Ruth Jones opened Monty’s Cafe on Westmoreland Street in downtown Wakefield six years ago and has worked steadily through the pandemic, at one point placing 70 online orders each day.
However, with the cost of living crisis firmly entrenched on us, Ruth has now closed her business due to rising gas and electricity prices as well as the amount charged to her customers for delivery as the fuel remains at an all-time high of nearly £. 2 per liter.
Ruth said her electric bill had to rise from around £500 to £1,000 a month, which she “just can’t afford”.
She said that on Sunday – her last day at the cafe – she only received eight orders on Just Eat and just one order last Tuesday.
She said Just Eat charges her 33% on all orders placed through the website and customers have to shell out nearly £5 in delivery and service charges before paying for their meals.
She also said the current cost of fuel means she can’t afford to hire her own drivers and other delivery services aren’t viable as Just Eat is the ‘grandfather’ of food platforms in line.
She employed three people but they were made redundant because she couldn’t afford to continue running the business as it went from £3,000 a week to just over £400.
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Her generous landlord even offered her free rent for a year to keep her business going, but she says that’s not enough to keep the business afloat. She said she had contacted the food delivery platform “a number of times to try to resolve the issue” but had received no response from them.
She said: ‘I closed on Sunday. It’s soul destroying, it’s not just me. My landlord has offered me free rent to help me out but it’s still not enough. Just Eat charges places like Costa Coffee and McDonalds £2.49 per delivery, but costs us £5.99 for delivery, which means we don’t receive any orders.
“We usually get around 70 orders on a Sunday but I took eight this weekend and just one on Tuesday last week. During the pandemic I was making £3,000 a week but after all expenses I haven’t earned only £400 last week.
Ruth asks the government to reduce fuel tax and VAT so more businesses don’t go bankrupt.
“Where are you going with the cost of electricity and fuel?” she said. “The government could help, but it hasn’t. Instead of giving people money on their bills, why doesn’t the government reduce fuel tax or VAT?”
Other cafes in the center are also struggling.
Sarah Padden, the owner of Cafe 19, said she was working longer hours and operating with reduced staff due to the cost of living crisis.
Sarah uses her own drivers and therefore pays 14% of her total orders to Just Eat, but after VAT she only sees around £650 for every £1000 she earns. She said she had to dip into her savings to “run the business”, but other businesses don’t have that luxury.
She said: “Day by day it gets worse and worse. The problem with Just Eat, the bus strikes and the lack of support, it’s just continuous, it’s just a matter of survival now.
“It’s a battle, we work alone to survive. We are understaffed but we cannot afford to hire more staff, we work three hours more every day. It was great during the pandemic. I only reopened in October 2020 because I lost my father, but until January of this year it was fine. I have children and staff to support, but we are living in really difficult times. »
However, Just Eat said delivery costs “may vary based on a variety of factors,” including delivery distance.
A Just Eat spokesperson said: “Just Eat operates a delivery service for restaurants that do not have their own delivery fleet and charges a nominal delivery fee to help defray the costs of providing this service.
“Delivery costs may vary depending on various factors, including delivery distance or the time it takes to deliver the food, but we offer a number of promotions such as free or reduced delivery costs to help customers make against this cost.