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Checklist: 9 Questions to Ask Before You Order Food Delivery Online

Ordering food online is a great way to try new places and support your long-standing favourites. Are you after a late-night bite? Maybe you’re exhausted from a long day and craving sushi or some really good pasta from that spot down the street, but you just don’t feel like going out. There’s no justification necessary — the stomach wants what it wants. And with so many delicious eats at your fingertips, curbing the growl is easier than ever.


With new online food delivery apps and websites popping up all the time, there’s a lot to take in. Here are the Qs to ask so you can order like a pro.

October 29, 2020 in Life

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Q1: Should I use an app or go through the restaurant directly?

Well, this really depends on what you’ve got a craving for. Some restaurants require you to order directly through their own channels, while others use external app-based food delivery services. Sometimes you’ll have both options, but a quick peep at a restaurant’s website should direct you to the right spot. If you’re in doubt about the best option, give them a call.

Q2: How much is the delivery charge?

Your online food delivery fee should be very clear, but it can vary by location, time of day and where you’re ordering from. Here are some hacks you can try.

Filter by the delivery charge

If you’re ordering from an app, you may be able to filter by the delivery charge you’d like to pay. Local spots that meet the criteria would pop up.

Follow your favourite restaurants and apps

Sometimes restaurants and apps will offer promo codes and deals via social media, so make sure to follow your go-to spots.

Sign up for emails

If you’ve signed up for emails, you might receive promo codes and special offers, such as free delivery, if you spend a certain amount. Keep an eye on your junk mail folder to make sure these aren’t hiding out there.

Time your order

The time of day you order food might matter. When it comes to food delivery, surge pricing may happen when there is great demand (think lunch and dinnertime) and fewer drivers available.

Q3: How much should I tip?

If there are extra factors at play — think terrible weather or other conditions that might make being out and about more risky for the delivery person — consider tipping more to show that you’re thankful for the folks who are bringing your food (and letting you stay home).


How and when you apply this tip depends on the platform you’re using to order food delivery. Most of the time, apps will prompt you to leave a tip and have you confirm that amount once you’ve successfully received your online food order (along with leaving feedback on your food and experience). After making your purchase, you can also monitor the amount charged to your Card through purchase notifications on the Amex App1.

Q4: What is the delivery process?

Placing your food delivery order is done; now it’s time to wait for the goods. The process is the same whether you used an app, the restaurant’s website or your phone: Your order will be accepted, prepared and delivered to you. Some apps will send you updates so you can track your food from the time it’s ready to the moment it arrives. There’s often room to leave notes for the driver, as well — maybe your building has a buzz code, a special number to call on arrival or a convenient spot to do contactless delivery, like a side door or a concierge desk.

Q5: What about food allergies and dietary restrictions?

Just like you’d let your server in a restaurant know about an allergy or food restriction, there’s open communication for restaurants to receive special instructions within food delivery apps and websites. If you have an allergy or special-diet requirements (such as nut-free, vegetarian or vegan), it helps to do some menu research ahead of time. A pizza restaurant might not be the best bet for your celiac friend due to the risk of cross-contamination. Picking up the phone and asking about substitutes and ingredients is important if allergies are severe.


You might even discover secret items that aren’t on the regular menu. Do some searching online, read reviews or browse social media feeds. You’ll find that sometimes these hidden options aren’t so hush-hush. Apps might have limitations on offerings, though, as some businesses reserve special menu items for dine-in only.

Q6: Can I add or subtract an item after hitting Order?

This one comes down to the app or service that you’ve selected, and how much time has passed since you placed your online food delivery order. When using an app or service, contact its support team to see what they can do. (Getting in touch with the restaurant directly may not be helpful and could cause confusion unless they own the business that’s doing the delivering.) If you’ve phoned your order in directly, simply call back. Every business has different policies, so a little research will go a long way.

Q7: What payment forms are accepted?

Most major credit cards are accepted but it depends on the app you are using, so check to make sure. The same goes for restaurants. If you’re calling for delivery or using a restaurant’s website and are not sure, ask before you complete your order. Using a points-earning credit card is an easy way to earn rewards for later. For example, the American Express CobaltTM Card helps you earn 5X the points for every $1 in eligible food purchases made on the Card in Canada, up to $30,000 annually2. American Express Membership Rewards® points can be redeemed for a variety of things, such as restaurant gift cards3.


On the topic of gift cards, most third-party apps won’t take restaurant-specific vouchers, but they may offer their own gift cards for use on their platform. If you have a restaurant gift card, you may need to save it for dining in, or call and find out if it can be applied to a direct delivery order.

Q8: Is there a delivery time guarantee?

Hungry and in a hurry? On some apps, you can filter by delivery times, such as options that are available within 30 minutes. Though, remember: much of this depends on factors like where you’re located, the traffic, the weather and how busy the restaurants are. Guaranteed delivery times are a nice incentive, but not all places offer them. Rather than a delivery guarantee, some apps and restaurants offer perks via emails and promo codes. If you’re a planner, try an app that allows users to schedule their orders for later.

Q9: What if my order is wrong?

Incorrect or missing items can be frustrating, but mistakes sometimes happen. It’s important to communicate via the channel you used to order. Some apps offer you a chance to review and comment on each item to ensure quality control. Leave notes about what’s missing or what went wrong, and you might be issued a refund. If your order came from a restaurant’s in-house delivery team, contact them online or call in to let them know. Just like dine-in clients, delivery customers should be happy, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

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