Shop smart with food delivery services

Having groceries brought home by delivery service - that sounds very tempting at first. But the service can also have disadvantages

No time-consuming searching for a product in the supermarket, no long queues at the checkout, no lugging heavy shopping bags - there are delivery services! Many supermarkets and retailers offer such a service. Couriers bring the goods ordered via the Internet to the customer's doorstep.

“Such a delivery service can be an advantage, especially in times of the Corona, if the customer wants to reduce their contacts due to the pandemic,” says Annett Reinke from the Brandenburg Consumer Center in Potsdam. But there are not only advantages to shopping through delivery services. It can also have its pitfalls.

It starts with ordering. Customers are sitting comfortably at home on the sofa, surfing the provider's website - and the temptation is great to order more than necessary. “Because you often think to yourself that someone is coming and bringing goods, then the effort must be worth it somehow,” says Reinke. As a result, customers sometimes spend more money than they want.

Place shopping list next to your PC or smartphone

"In order not to fall into this trap, just like when shopping in stores, consumers should put a shopping list next to their PC or smartphone," advises Reinke.

Her tip: Never order from delivery services when you are hungry - because even then you often order more than you want.

What can be a disadvantage when buying groceries via delivery services: "Naturally, goods cannot be checked for their condition before they are bought," says Luise Molling from the consumer protection organization Foodwatch in Berlin.

What are the bananas like - green, ripe or even fully ripe? Or are the tomatoes, for example, firm or not, as desired? "The customer has no influence on this and in such cases has to take what comes," says Molling.

She points out that there are often deficiencies in labeling. For example, do the grapes come from India, South Africa or Namibia or are the tomatoes from Belgium, Spain or the Netherlands? And what if conventional meat is delivered instead of organic meat? Molling considers the likelihood of this to happen to be comparatively low. "Usually when you order online, you will see that organic meat is currently out of stock," she says.

Complain about wrongly delivered goods immediately

If it does happen, consumers should complain directly to the retailer - for example via the customer hotline or by e-mail. This also applies to goods that are no longer fresh, such as moldy yoghurt or products such as frozen goods that were delivered half-defrosted because the cold chain was interrupted during transport.

"Products that need to be cooled are always a risk," says Reinke. This is especially true if the time window in which the courier delivers the goods to the customer is broad - for example, the delivery service says: "We deliver between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m."

This can be bad for the maintenance of the cold chain of certain goods if the customer is not at home because of the indefinite time and the food is temporarily stored with the neighbor. But there are also providers with whom a fixed time can be agreed. If the delivery service then rings on time, everything is fine.

And then: Check the goods right at the front door? "That should be problematic, especially with larger deliveries, because it is time-consuming," says Molling. With some food delivery services, there is the option of giving the messenger cool boxes and other packaging elements right away. But that's far from standard.

Annoyance about disposal of the packaging

If the goods are made of cardboard in the postal package, the packaging cannot be returned. It is not just the cardboard that needs to be disposed of. In addition, there is often a large number of films made of plastic or packing paper as well as cooling packs with which the goods are protected.

“As a result, compared to regular shopping in the supermarket, this can be a huge amount of packaging waste that pollutes the environment,” says Reinke.

By the way: Consumers also have a 14-day right of withdrawal when shopping for groceries on the Internet. There are exceptions to this: "These are, for example, perishable or sealed goods," explains Reinke.

The same applies to products that were specially made to customer specifications - such as a birthday cake that was decorated according to the customer's specifications. So you can't just send it back if you don't like it. However, if there is evidence of a defect, the goods can be complained about.

Delivery service hopping destroys time savings

If you decide to have groceries delivered to your home, you should stay with one supplier and not change them all the time, advises Reinke. Because registering with the new provider - for example with name, address and preferred payment method - can take a lot of time - "and that's exactly what you want to save by ordering from delivery services," says Reinke.

But be careful: "Some providers ask for completely unnecessary data and sometimes there is a lack of data protection," warns Molling. Those who prefer to shop anonymously should ultimately go to the supermarket and pay in cash - and not by card.

nutrition Lose weight eating disorder