The Untold Truth Of Deliveroo

It was once the case that the streets of the U.K. were simply empty lengths of pristine asphalt encroached only by the delicate flutter of flower petals and the tapping of excited children skipping their way to school. Then Deliveroo came along with its fluorescent green scooters, changing everything.

Deliveroo's inching dominance was started in 2013 by Will Shu, its founder and CEO, when he moved to London and leaped on a gaping hole in the restaurant industry. Despite London being a city crammed with thrilling and exquisite eateries, Shu recognized that few of them transported their meals to hungry customers. He set up Deliveroo to change that (via Deliveroo).

Headquartered on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of affluent London (via Companies House), Deliveroo operates in almost 800 locations across the globe, providing services for 140,000 restaurants with a platoon of 110,000 delivery drivers (via Deliveroo Newsroom). And while you may know it as the mode of transportation for your favorite Friday night take-away, there are quite a few little-known facts that you may have never realized about Deliveroo.

Deliveroo's founder still occasionally delivers food to customers

Will Shu traveled across the pond from America to England in 2004 as part of his role as an investment banker (via I News). As we know, there's no shortage of cash floating around the banking industry, so anyone contemplating leaving it would have to give it a great deal of thought — or just be really hungry, as it turns out.

According to Business Insider, the concept of Deliveroo formed in Shu's mind as he toiled away for endless hours analyzing data with only dreary supermarket meal deals to keep his hunger at bay.

Determined not to succumb to a life of bland food, Shu set up Deliveroo in 2013, initially delivering food himself by driving a scooter around the leafy streets of Chelsea for six hours every day (via Forbes). The Independent reports that Shu continued to distribute takeout meals himself on a bicycle even after the company had become a success.

Deliveroo's drivers manage some very weird requests

For a company as mighty and widespread as Deliveroo, it is not surprising that its delivery drivers can encounter pretty wacky orders and rude customers who refuse to give a tip, according to riders in the U.K. university city of Cambridge (via Mirror).

As well as unusual (and quite disturbing) options such as a gravy and fries cupcake (via Confidentials Manchester), requests have included a snack on a maternity ward and a lively rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song (via Her).

Perhaps the sheer breadth of restaurants served by Deliveroo has something to do with the bizarre requests. In addition to serving mainstream outlets such as Burger King, Five Guys, and Subway (via Deliveroo), the business has supported a garlic-only restaurant in the Netherlands, a Hong Kong eatery themed around a space station, and a London diner focused on kangaroo, zebra, and crocodile meat, according to Deliveroo's Newsroom.

The company has been tormented by concerns about workers rights

Deliveroo has faced much criticism about its treatment of delivery drivers. The most contentious aspect is that the company considers its riders to be self-employed individuals rather than fully on-board employees. This means that Deliveroo does not have to benefit drivers with the usual statutory requirements of a national minimum wage and holiday pay (via The Guardian).

The company operates as part of the gig economy, a method of business that involves offering workers one paid task at a time, meaning regular work and pay is not guaranteed (via Wired). It's a controversial tactic that has generated high-level criticism, leading to organizations refusing to invest in Deliveroo (via BBC News).

There are mixed views about what it's like to work for Deliveroo. While Indeed cites employee reviews promoting a fun and flexible working style, riders have previously gone on strike over poor work conditions and low pay — with Sky News reporting some riders earning as little as £2 an hour (just slightly under $3).

Amazon prevented Deliveroo from going broke

Despite being a major player in the food delivery system, managing Deliveroo's finances has not always been an easy task. In addition to turbulent times on the stock market (its share price has suffered a dramatic fall in the past, according to The Motley Fool), Deliveroo considered itself to be at risk of collapse due to a fall in demand caused by closed restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic (via Sky News).

The firm was subsequently saved by an investment of £440 million from Amazon. Although Amazon had been interested in pumping money into Deliveroo before the coronavirus outbreak began, it had been prevented from doing so by the U.K's Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), which had significant concerns about Amazon monopolizing the food delivery sector. However, Deliveroo's admittance of severe financial hardship led to the inquiry being dropped (via BBC News).

Amazon's venture allowed it to acquire 16% of Deliveroo, the BBC reported. But, even though it authorized the investment, the CMA warned Amazon that if it tried to increase its control of Deliveroo a further investigation would commence (via Wired).

Deliveroo angered the whole of France with an April Fool's prank

While many businesses take pride in portraying a permanently professional reputation, others like to occasionally indulge in a bit of mischief — and Deliveroo is no different. While it may not be a match for Burger King's constant baiting of its rivals (via The Drum), an April Fool's stunt performed by Deliveroo caused some serious backlash.

In this instance, Deliveroo decided to taunt its customers in France by sending them bogus bills for imaginary food costing hundreds of Euros (in some cases receipts tallied more than €450, BBC News reports). Unsurprisingly, many people were annoyed, leading to the company issuing an apology on Twitter, acknowledging that it had abused the trust of its customers.

Although enraging an entire consumer base takes some beating, other Deliveroo mischief has included a purported ban on pizza crusts (via Deliveroo Newsroom) and a claim that it had developed a system allowing food to be ordered just by thinking about it (via The Drum). If that was the case, we can only imagine the millions of people who would be bankrupted by the rampant purchasing of chicken nuggets.