An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I LIKE THOSE SKIP THE DISHES television commercials in which Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame plays a slightly over-the-hill actor discovering the joys of Canadian food such as pineapple pizza.
The commercials seem a bit vague at first but they grow on you. Hamm even does a YouTube riff on the names of Canadian cities including Chilliwack, Moose Jaw and such.
It all leaves a folksy impression of Skip the Dishes, much more favourable than the news coverage the food-delivery company has been getting in B.C. during the past week.
After the provincial government temporarily capped the fees that food-delivery companies can charge at 15 per cent, Skip the Dishes came back with a temporary 99-cent “B.C. fee.” Now, instead of Skip charging struggling restaurants extra, the company simply charges foodies direct.
The wordsmithing used by Skip the Dishes to justify the extra charge is masterful. It is, according to the explanation, being done “to continue to provide you with the food you love from your favourite restaurants while providing learning opportunities for independently contracted couriers….”
Complaints about the new fee have come more from politicians than customers. When both the BC NDP and BC Liberals agree on something, you know an issue is a political hot potato. The NDP government even says it will look into legalities.
But when people are spending hundreds of dollars a month to have burgers and fries delivered to the door step — I recently patronized a local fast-food restaurant and had to line up behind all the Skip the Dishes drivers waiting for orders — the issue is likely to remain more important to politicians than customers.
Skip the Dishes isn’t the only food-delivery game in town and customers can vote with their feet but it’s unlikely much will change from the current competitive market place. Until the pandemic ends, the 99 cents is likely to be more of an annoyance than a deterrence.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.