'Unspoken rule' in online take-out
By Liu Wenbo
People's Daily app


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With a growing number of people ordering food take-outs, China's takeaway platforms, including Meituan, Baidu Takeaway and Eleme are introducing discounts to draw in customers. That's according to reporters from China National Radio. Yet the prices of food ordered for take-out are much higher than those for dining in.

They said many merchants offer discounts and other promotions on their take-out platforms, like giving offers 15 yuan off 30 yuan purchase, but in at least one fast-food restaurant, prices for in-house dining were lower than ordering online. In one example, a set dinner labeling 22 yuan online sells some 10 yuan in stores.


It still costs more to order take-out despite a discount, which is largely a result of the push money deducted by those platforms, and then the dealers pass on the cost to consumers. 

"Every business does this, you can sell at the original price, but we cannot make money by doing that, so we have to offer discounts whereby we get favorable terms from the platforms while the customers fall for it,” a restaurant clerk said.


In interviews with pedestrians, the reporters were told that ordering food for delivery on mobile phones is more convenient though they mostly did not pay attention to the discrepancy between the platform price and the store price. They claimed that slightly higher prices were acceptable had they been told the truth in advance for their pursuit of convenience.

Faced with such "unspoken rules," legal experts said China's price law clearly provides for the merchants to sell goods or services with marked prices. Were the price of takeaway higher than that in stores, consumers should be alerted or else it would be an infringement of their right to know and even regarded as price fraud.