Food Fight

Following Merger, GrubHub and Seamless Hit with Temporary Antitrust Rules

You know, to keep things competitive between them and all those other online delivery services whose names escape us.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Photo: oag.state.ny.us)

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Photo: oag.state.ny.us)

Two of the city’s biggest online food delivery companies merged in May — but New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is hoping to keep the online food ordering game competitive with a few new rules (well, for now).

Mr. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with GrubHub and Seamless. The agreement┬ástates that the companies will no longer be allowed to form exclusive agreements with certain vendors, a release from Mr. Schneiderman’s office states, and they must sever any existing ties within the next 45 days.

The agreement “ensures that no single online platform will have a monopoly on access to Manhattan restaurants, and it allows consumers and restaurants the freedom to do business with the website or app of their choice,” Mr. Schneiderman is quoted as saying in a prepared release.

Except after the restrictions expire in 18 months, at which point the new mega-company will once again be able to form exclusive agreements willy-nilly, the only caveat being that they must notify the AG’s office of such agreements for a six-month period.

Yelp also recently announced it will enable consumers to order food online, “in a partnership with two smaller competitors of Seamless and GrubHub,” the release says, failing to name the two also-rans while insisting that the new restrictions create a “level playing field” within the online food ordering game.

Also, Seamless and GrubHub’s merged company will be prohibited from creating exclusive agreements with Yelp, but they can still form business agreements with the company. After the 18-month period, this rule expires, too.

Hopefully, the merger won’t kill competition too much, because we like our plastic-containered pad thai as cheap as possible.

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