Do UberEats Scams Spell the End of Promo Codes?

Soulless Uber has a fatal flaw: it is customer friendly. By handing out free promotions for virtually every complaint on recent food delivery launch UberEats, they may have exposed the blueprint for their demise.

As we’ve discussed, Uber is a morally bankrupt, misogynistic, piece-of-shit company that will do anything to turn a profit. This includes bludgeoning itself into foreign markets by offering large incentives to drivers and free promotions for users. In London, this approach may have backfired. After promising food deliveries in 30-minutes or less with the launch of UberEats in the UK (a-la Domino’s), the company was scammed by opportunistic users. Writer Rob Price reportedly finagled nearly £200 ($255) in free food. After UberEats gave £10 to all users upon launch, Price combined promotional codes from friends, delivery delays, and order mistakes to rake in free meals.

UberEats=Free Food

UberEats=Free Food

If an order was incorrect or outside the 30-minute promised window, Price would email the UberEats support team to complain. They responded with additional promotional codes, essentially lining Price’s pockets with free food coupons. After the support team called his level of complaints “atypical” and refused to hand out any more vouchers, Price responded and was actually rewarded with more free food. His con was relatively light, as a woman referred to as Sonia earned £462 ($589). She even ordered a can of coke so that she could report it as late and reap a voucher.

How does this spell the potential end for UberEats? As Price reports, Uber relies heavily on promotional codes to launch their services in a new market. Although the more lucrative offers have ended in the UK—especially after the scamming went public—they are still likely to hand out free offers. The food delivery business is too competitive not to. Because UberEats takes the largest cut from restaurants out of all delivery startups, they rely on their user base to incentivize businesses to continue to partner with them. So an integral part of Uber’s model is maintaining strong user numbers. What if that user base were to complain about delivery time or order mix-ups and threaten to take their business elsewhere? Well, they would pretty much be forced to give out free coupons.

As we are living in the “golden age of promotional offers” with tech startups flush with venture capital funds, this is an issue for brands outside of Uber. Most food delivery companies are willing to hand out free orders, even if that means losing in the short term. When GrubHub launched an enticing offer, my roommates gamed the system for hundreds of dollars of free ice cream sandwiches. Our freezer is still full and none of them continue to use GrubHub, which is the root of the problem. If UberEats maintains the users they so generously provided codes to, the soulless company will continue to profit. But what if someone takes the scam further than Price or Sonia. What if every user plays the system? That could be the end of UberEats and the end of promo codes.

Image courtesy of Guillermo Fernandes/Flickr