Auckland Uber Eats order page
A page from Uber Eats Auckland

Cheat sheet: How the UberEats busy area fee affects your lazin’ and grazin’

Welcome to the Cheat Sheet, a clickable, shareable, bite-sized FAQ about the news of the moment. Today, we look at the UberEats busy area fee that has just launched in Auckland.

The what?

You know how you often pay more for a ride when everybody is heading out on a Friday night and Uber is in high demand? Well, the same thing now applies to UberEats orders – during snack rush hour, you may need to pay a higher delivery fee in order to get your kai.

I guess that makes sense… but what’s the main reason for it?

Basically, UberEats say they want to ensure you have access to your go-to joints, even during the busiest hours when the selection could otherwise be limited. They say a little extra cash money will help them maintain the speed, reliability and selection that ensures you get the best from your meals on wheels experience.

And, as UberEats country manager Andy Bowie told The Spinoff: “It’s getting cold, winter weather is settling in and we know it starts to get busy through this time, so being able to manage that reliability is really important.”

How considerate… when will this kick off?

It’s happening now! As of yesterday, your UberEats splurges could make even more of a dent in your bank account than they already do… but only during peak times.

So I’ve just got to be savvy with when I place my order…

If you want to avoid the busy fee, yes. But even if you have an insatiable appetite at the same time as everybody else and can’t resist splashing out, you won’t be tricked into accidentally paying more. The app always shows the delivery fee before the order is placed, and will alert you if the busy area fee applies.

What exactly will this alert look like?

A wee arrow will pop up below the restaurant name, with the higher delivery fee displayed above the menu and then also on the order receipt. Can’t be missed!

Is Auckland the only city implementing this?

Nope, Wellington has had the busy area fee since August 1st last year. As Bowie says, UberEats wants to “learn as much about these sort of products before we bring them in to market, so we’ve been testing and learning a bunch in Wellington and are now watching it in Auckland.” Also, many overseas cities already have this feature on their UberEats app, so Tāmaki Makaurau is a bit late to the party.

With all these updates, you may have heard of a delivery partner surge feature. So what is this and how is it different to the busy area fee?

“The delivery partner surge feature will mean delivery partners will get paid a surge increment per trip on certain areas. They’re not 1-1 with the busy area fee, but they are obviously pretty highly correlated in the sense that both occur when it’s very busy on UberEats,” Bowie says.

Wait, so will I have two extra payments to make?

No, you will only pay a busy area fee as part of your original order – which goes to the restaurant you are purchasing food from. That restaurant then takes care of the delivery partner’s charge, paying them out of the total fee.

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How much extra should I expect to pay during peak times?

“It all depends, and every situation is different. Just like on our Uber rides product, surge happens depending on different market conditions, so you will only expect to see it during peak times, and it goes up in 50 cent increments,” Bowie says. And if you’re wondering if you can cheat the system with a promo code – no such luck. Discounts are applied to the total order, which will include all fees and fares associated with your order (including the busy area fee).

Does this apply to me wherever I live in Auckland? 

Yup, it can’t be escaped – the reach of the busy area fee spreads far and wide. “This will be our entire service area, which stretches about to Papakura and up to around Albany,” Bowie says.


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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