Back in 2019, order online buttons were added to Google My Business (GMB) restaurant profiles and knowledge panels through partnerships with Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Delivery.com, among others. These additions to GMB was apart of its evolution, which went from a static directory to a increasingly “transactional” platform.
For consumers, this was meant to be convenient, but at the same time, it created problems for a number of restaurants. California decided to do something about it by introducing a new bill (AB 2149) that aims to “protect restaurants from being undercut by food delivery platforms, such as DoorDash, Grub Hub, Postmates and Uber Eats, that make it impossible to build strong customer relationships.”
When the GMB order online call-to-action was implemented, it was done with out authorization from the restaurants, which meant that traffic was being siphoned off and compelled restaurants to pay delivery fees to third parties. On top of that, delivery apps, which found themselves under intensifying competitive pressure, had to add restaurants to their directories and rosters without getting permission from the business itself.
One could say that because of addition of delivery apps, it disrupts the direct relationship between consumer and restaurant. Also, it seems that there has been other ethically dubious conduct by some delivery apps, which has resulted in lawsuits. After several complaints from restaurants and SEOs on behalf of clients last year, Google added an opt-out form for food ordering. Even then, California felt that it still had to step in and take action.
If AB 2149 passed, it would require delivery apps to share customer inflammations with restaurants in order to provide the restaurant with customer data. It would also prohibit restaurants from being presented on delivery apps without explicitly agreeing to do so, according to the bill’s author, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
The idea behind the proposed law is to redress the perceived power imbalance between independent, small restaurants and “big tech.” This is similar to Gonzalez’s previous bill, the controversial AB 5, which explicitly sought to rein in the “gig economy” (read: Uber and Lyft) and turn independent contractors into employees.