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NYS Division of Consumer Protection

NYS Consumer Protection: beware of hidden costs in grocery delivery apps

By Press Release
Mar 15, 2021, 2:18pm

Press release:

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is alerting consumers about the hidden costs in grocery delivery apps and providing tips to help save money when opting for delivery services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers more than doubled their use of food delivery services. Unfortunately, most consumers do not see the additional fees on grocery deliveries until checkout or when they directly compare prices in-store.

Stores frequently charge more for items they offer for delivery and replace items for something more expensive when an item is out of stock.

“Grocery store delivery has been a critical service many New Yorkers have relied on for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “To avoid being surprised at checkout with additional fees, consumers should check their delivery orders carefully when they receive them and follow basic tips to save money.”

“As a result of the expansion of retailers across New York State that accept Supplemental Nutrition payments for online food purchases, an increasing number of SNAP recipients are ordering groceries for delivery or pickup," said Mike Hein, commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees SNAP.

“While SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery fees or gratuity, all shoppers should be aware of these charges in advance before they place an online order.”

Grocery delivery apps incorporate their fees in a few different ways:

  • Shopping List: Charges for food can vary across apps for the same item, at the same store. Grocery store apps tend to get most of their fees by charging more for different items.
  • Delivery Fees: These depend mainly on your total bill. Generally, the more you buy, the less the cost; however, this is not always the case, particularly if there are promotions. Many stores are charging standard delivery fees for orders over a certain amount and then a premium when less is purchased.
  • Fuel Surcharge or Service Fee: Some apps, depending on your location and total delivery, may charge a fuel surcharge or service fee in addition to the delivery fee.
  • Pickup Times: To save money on delivery fees, curbside pickup is offered at some stores. Pickup times closer to your order time may charge a premium.
  • A gratuity is typical for restaurant food delivery, and most grocery store delivery apps offer it as well. The requirements for tipping and the amount that goes to the driver can vary.

The Division of Consumer Protection recommends the following tips to save money when using grocery delivery apps:

  1. Make a list -- Food is one of the top national impulse purchases across all age groups and can contribute to 20% or more of a grocery bill. If you shop on the app with a list, the bill will likely be lower because you are not walking through the aisles.
  2. Choose store pickup, next day -- Curbside pickup allows consumers to save money on delivery fees, but some stores charge a premium to pick up your items close to your order time. Place your order a day before you need it, to keep fees down.
  3. Shop around -- If you are ordering food from one grocery store, see what the same order would cost you on another app or grocery store in the same area. Searching on “grocery delivery near me” is a good way to find out what stores and apps will deliver to your location.
  4. Search for more -- Availability may vary, depending on the app, so consumers may have to look for those items elsewhere online. Consumers should be aware that shopping on multiple apps results in separate fees and delivery charges.
  5. Confirm the gratuity policy -- Often the grocery delivery people work as independent contractors and are not paid an hourly wage; instead receiving a per delivery stipend. Thus, the gratuity added is an important part of their income. Some delivery companies keep a portion of the gratuity charge rather than passing it on to the drivers in full. Check the app’s policy to understand what portion makes it to the driver – you may want to choose to cash tip the driver directly.
  6. Become a member -- Some grocery delivery apps are charging a fee and giving members additional promotions. Depending on the fee and the amount of actual deliveries a member utilizes, it may be beneficial for a frequent user to become a member. It is important to read all the terms and conditions for membership before signing up to ensure membership does not end up costing more over time. For more tips on membership programs, click here.
  7. Look at reviews -- If you have never ordered from a grocery store before, check out reviews to see what to expect. Also check out the delivery services reviews in your area since delivery services are based on individual drivers and can vary greatly in different locations.
  8. Check your order upon receipt. Stores may substitute items for more expensive alternatives. To save money, consumers should understand the store’s return policy and return the items to the store, if less expensive options are available.
  9. Separate services, separate complaints. If there is a problem with your groceries, the delivery person is not necessarily connected with the grocery store. When you have an issue with your groceries, try contacting the grocery store first.

To learn more smart shopping tips, consumers are encouraged to sign up for a free webinar hosted by the Division of Consumer Protection entitled, "Savvy Shopping Tips for Smart Consumers," which is taking place on March 25 at 6 p.m. Register to participate here.

Consumers who encounter problems with grocery delivery services are encouraged to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers.

For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 1-800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or visit the DCP website at The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at

BEWARE: NYS Division of Consumer Protection warns consumers about coronavirus scammers

By Billie Owens
Mar 26, 2020, 2:01pm

Press release:

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is alerting consumers about scammers taking advantage of the novel coronavirus.

Scammers are using techniques that typically arise with a major global event such as: falsely claiming to be online sellers of popular goods; setting up fake charities; sending fake emails and texts that contain harmful links designed to steal your personal information; and using robocalls to pitch novel coronavirus treatments and work at home schemes.

People should be on the lookout for scammers looking to take advantage of public fears surrounding this issue.

“Unscrupulous scammers never take a break and they are now trying to cash in on the news of the novel coronavirus by trying to lure people into unknowingly providing their personal information,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “During this public health emergency, there are simple steps you can take to avoid novel coronavirus scams that can help protect your hard-earned money and your identity.”

“New York State’s coordinated multi-agency response to managing the novel coronavirus includes raising awareness about deceptive and dishonest attempts to take advantage of people during this outbreak,” said Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. “The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses involve proven precautions, like washing your hands, sneezing or coughing into your elbow and staying indoors when you feel sick to help prevent the spread of infection all year.”

Below are tips to protect yourself from novel coronavirus scams:

  • Research online sellers before placing an order. Check out the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card and keep a record of your transaction.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t knowIt could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and antivirus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Be aware of emails coming from unknown senders. Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in New York State, visit the New York State Department of Health website.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the novel coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Be aware of emails asking for donations. Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding Don’t let anyone rush you into donating. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert of high prices on critical goods. Any New Yorker who sees excessively priced consumer goods and services that are used primarily for personal, family or household purposes to prevent or respond to novel coronavirus should file a complaint with DCP. New Yorkers can now report sudden and unexpected increases in consumer goods such as hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, or other health and sanitation related products by calling the consumer hotline toll free at 800-697-1220.
  • Hang up on illegal robocallers. If you receive a call about scam novel coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes, hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

New York State is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus. For up to date information on the novel coronavirus, visit the New York State Department of Health website or call the Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or visit the DCP website. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook.

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