Beck Taxi has made it easier for restaurants, businesses and customers to coordinate deliveries, announcing a $10 flat rate for three-kilometre deliveries, plus an extra $2.50 for every additional kilometre.
By standardizing and publicizing the flat rate option, Beck is making it possible for restaurants in particular to take a customer’s delivery order and calculate the cost by taxi in advance.
“Most deliveries are within a three-kilometre radius anyway,” says Beck’s operations manager Kristine Hubbard.
Hubbard points out that the service and rates are not particularly new: Food, grocery and pharmacy deliveries have traditionally accounted for 15 to 20 per cent of Beck’s business long before the pandemic.
But the company has noticed more interest in its delivery services since the lockdown began – particularly over the last couple weeks, after more restaurants began pushing back against the commissions charged by food delivery apps like UberEats.
Hubbard adds that in some cases, customers pay more than $10 on delivery fees through other apps. That doesn’t include the commissions restaurants also pay, which in the case of UberEats adds up to 30 per cent. Restaurants like Il Fornello have begun weekly boycotts against UberEats on Wednesdays in protest, even if it means losing some business.
“There’s a bit of a hostage scenario that these apps have presented for restaurants,” says Hubbard, recognizing that despite the exorbitant commissions, restaurants also rely on apps like UberEats to bring them traffic. “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
Hubbard says some restaurants just eat the Beck delivery cost because it’s more favourable for the customer – and significantly less than the 30 per cent they would be paying otherwise.
Beck is currently operating with 300 cars at work. Their fleet has been reduced by 75 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, with drivers staying home either because they’re immuno-compromised or because they don’t want to risk infecting family members.
Three Beck drivers have tested positive for COVID-19, though there’s no telling whether they contracted it on the job.
“They’re all showing mild-ish symptoms,” says Hubbard, who worked with Toronto Public Health on the requisite protocols and contact tracing.
“Drivers are installing shields. The vast majority are wearing masks. And there are not multiple drivers working in any taxi the way you would see outside of these circumstances. So it’s a lot easier to help with tracing.”