A popular Vancouver-based online grocery delivery service is adding delivery fees to customers' bills for the first time.
In an email to customers, Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery—better known as SPUD.ca—cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the catalyst behind the change to their operations. Since launching more than two decades ago, the company has been bringing groceries to homes and workplaces locally, as well as in Victoria, Calgary, and Edmonton, but has faced unprecedented demand for its services since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.
While customers old and new have long been able to load up online carts and receive the orders to their doors at no extra cost, that's set to change Monday. Beginning Nov. 9, any new orders below $84.99 will be accompanied by a $6.25 delivery fee , while those whose bills' total between $85.00 and $124.99 will pay an additional $4.25. Customers placing orders worth $125 or more will receive free delivery.
Those fees will not apply to orders delivered on Saturdays or Sundays. "To preserve your spot on the weekends, we suggest creating a subscription as that guarantees your spot each week," SPUD CEO Peter van Stolk advised customers in the letter.
The fees will cover costs of "critical areas brought on by this pandemic," according to van Stolk, including extra packaging and recycling costs , increased sanitization and safety protocols and increased compensation for SPUD's employees.
In the letter, van Stolk acknowledged that "2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us; as a company that has been in business since 1997, this year has been the most challenging."
Like all businesses, SPUD has had to adapt to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has created, he continued.
"Over the last seven months, we have had to add increased safety measures throughout our entire operations. Like all of us, we have been continually adapting to this new paradigm. We have taken these safety measures and made them a permanent part of our business," van Stolk wrote.
"To adapt to these adjustments and set a new standard for our customers and team members' safety, we have taken the initiative to introduce a delivery fee. We have gone 20 years without needing to implement fees on our grocery delivery services. We know that adding fees is something that is not easy."
In the email, the company compared its new fees to those of other local food delivery services, like Doordash, Thrifty Foods, Real Canadian Superstore, and Save On Foods. SPUD's fees come in below these competitors, by a few cents in Save On's case and by around $1 - $3.50 in others.