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Iowa restaurants looking for protection from third-party vendors adding them without permission

The Iowa Restaurant Association wants a bill passed to create a contract between third-party vendors and restaurants so both share liability if a problem arises.

NORWALK, Iowa — The Iowa Restaurant Association wants to pass a law to change the relationship between restaurants and vendors, by adding a contract. 

Senate File 2213, which was introduced this week, could help make that a reality. 

Iowa Restaurant Association CEO Jessica Dunker said the contract is something they have been working on for a while. It outlines making it unacceptable for third-party vendors like Uber Eats or Grubhub to take menus of restaurants they do not represent and place them on their websites.

According to Dunker, 40% of members in the Association have had to deal with the problem of third-party vendors using their menus or representing them as a partner without their permission.

The proposed rule would help prevent owners like Steve Taylor of Pyra Pizzeria in Norwalk from experiencing what he did.

"We had an issue with Grubhub and Uber Eats …They had us listed on their websites as a participating or implied participating restaurant and we weren't," he said.

Taylor noted before those sites removed his business from their pages, it caused a lot of problems.

"I mean we had people wait an hour and a half for food that would call us repeatedly like we don't know we don't control it."

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Other areas they want the contract to specify: other people should not be in the car with the driver when delivering a customer's food, and a time limit should be set for delivery.

Some restaurants have complained drivers take a long time to get to the restaurant to pick up the food, so they no longer feel comfortable sending it out and end up making a new meal, according to Dunker.

"So those agreements between restaurants and what is safe for the restaurant is one of the things that they'll talk about ... In addition to that, some of the liability is transferred legally then to the third-party delivery service," she said.

Even if the legislation does pass, Taylor does not plan on ever using a third-party vendor for his restaurant. Next week is the last week for SF2213 to make it through subcommittee.

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