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Postmates Customers Are Frustrated With Delivery Costs Estimates

Postmates estimates the cost of delivery when customers place an order, but some say they end up spending way more than they planned.

Posted on May 25, 2016, at 10:49 p.m. ET

John Phillips / Getty Images

Founder & CEO at Postmates Bastian Lehmann during TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015.

Lots of people seem to be having the same problem with the on-demand delivery service Postmates.

After placing an order, the company quotes an estimate for what it will cost. But after the goods are delivered, people say they end up getting charged way more than they originally agreed to:

An estimated $57.85 became $95.17 after delivery:

Alright @Postmates, what am I missing here? Estimated total - $57.85 Actual total - $77.90 (not including fees)

@kathleen_warner @andrewchen @Postmates one reason I stopped using them. Never had any transaction come anywhere close to the "estimate"

People mostly associate Postmates, which is valued at half a billion dollars, with restaurant takeout, but the company has a lot of partnerships, including 7-Eleven and Walgreens, that allow customers to get pretty much anything delivered. While the convenience is a bonus people are willing to pay for, the frustration over being charged more than you expected to pay is a major turn-off:

Like the other week when my Postmates order estimate was $108 and the actual bill was $160? Good times.

Just tried @Postmates for the first time and shocked that people use their service. Got charged 25% more than the estimate they gave! #WTF

Has anyone been given an estimate by @Postmates and then had the actual charge be $20 over what they quoted? I feel like I've been scammed.

Disappointed with @Postmates today! The price estimate was $59 and they charged me $87 and also got the wrong dish!

Postmates acknowledged the problem to BuzzFeed News, saying it's caused by out-of-date prices for the thousands of restaurants its delivery team picks up from. "We show the price estimate, based on the menu that's in our system," wrote Postmates spokesperson April Conyers in an email, "but there may be some discrepancy."

In some cases, when there's more at play than changing menu prices, Postmates ends up giving a refund to customers — for example, when Postmates failed to inform customers that a restaurant would be charging a special fee because of the app:

@ceodonovan @Postmates yep they refunded it. they were unaware the restaurant was charging a postmates fee

@csimamora We refunded your card $23.74. Sorry about that!

Postmates offers delivery from many restaurants, some of which — unlike the partner vendors that Postmates works closely with — don’t even realize they’re on the platform at all. This can cause problems with food quality and supply, as well as kitchen timing.

Restaurants that don't want to be available for Postmates delivery can request to be permanently removed, Postmates said; others, like San Francisco's popular Blue Barn, charge a fee. "Last year we delivered from 100,000 merchants," said Conyers. "You can imagine, things come up."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.