Grubhub offered people free lunch but it turned into a disaster

Grubhub Sued by DC Attorney General For Alleged Deceptive Trade Practices

On Tuesday, food delivery service Grubhub ran a promotion offering discounted lunch to New Yorkers, but due to high demand and poor communication, the rollout went horribly wrong.

Earlier in May, Grubhub announced they would be running a promotion that gave 'free lunch' to New Yorkers who placed an order between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 with the code 'FREELUNCH'.

The promotion was part of a campaign to get more people to eat lunch after the food delivery service conducted a survey indicating many New Yorkers don't eat lunch because they are too busy.

Using the code, people would get $15 off a meal but were still responsible for additional taxes, fees, and the option tip.

As word spread about the lunchtime promotion, New Yorkers quickly placed lunchtime orders hoping to snag their favorite meal for less. BuzzFeed News reported that an average of 6,000 orders were being placed every minute during the three-hour timespan.

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The sudden surge in users caused complications for the Grubhub website/app which began glitching.

"The overwhelming demand initially caused a temporary delay in our system, which was quickly fixed, and ultimately were able to fulfill more than 450,000 orders connected to the promotion," Grubhub said in a statement.

But the larger problem seemingly fell on delivery drivers and restaurants who were unprepared for the high demand.

With so many orders to fill, understaffed restaurants were unable to complete orders and forced to cancel some orders or stop taking additional orders.

It also seemed there were not enough drivers to pick up and drop off the number of orders placed.

Grubhub says they "gave advance notice to all restaurants in our network, which included multiple forms of communications across various platforms (e.g., email and in-platform)" and "increased driver incentives to help support demand."

However, even Grubhub could not anticipate the demand.

"We [knew] 72% of New Yorkers call lunch the most important meal of the day, but the demand blew away all expectations," Grubhub said in a statement. "For context, we executed a similar promotion last year, which had a higher promotion value and our redemption rates for this promotion was 6X higher."

Grubhub said their customer care team was working with customers who had orders canceled to credit the $15 back.

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