Ever wondered why GrabFood delivery fees differ for the same order? We find out

It’s all about timing.

| Tan Min-Wei | Sponsored | September 25, 2023, 05:56 PM

It’s lunch time in the office, and everyone wants to order in. 

Someone asks: “GrabFood?” and is met with quick nods in every direction. 

As everyone opens their Grab app and tries to get orders, they notice that different people have different delivery fees.  

But why?

Mothership investigates

Some have wondered if this is the case of getting better delivery prices when not using GrabUnlimited.

In fact, this was the accusation Grab faced in March 2023, when a GrabUnlimited subscriber showed the result of his experiment: a S$2.50 service fee difference in favour of the non-subscriber, despite ordering the same items from the same location. 


Back then, Grab said the difference was due to a difference in the times the orders were started. 

There was a one minute difference between the start timings of the two orders, and as a result, the GrabUnlimited subscriber was hit with surge pricing. 

Yet, one can’t help but wonder how true the statement is.

And so Mothership decided to investigate this, conducting three experiments to get to the bottom of this.

We put these three variables to the test during the ordering process to find out what causes a difference in delivery fees: 

  1. Using GrabUnlimited
  2. Manually entering the address
  3. Different order times

Test #1: Non-GrabUnlimited vs GrabUnlimited

First, we lined up two phones: on the left we have a normal user, and on the right a user with the GrabUnlimited subscription:

Image via Mothership

For each test, we changed one variable at a time.

In this case, it means that the order, destination, and timing have to be exactly the same, and that it's even the same person operating both phones.

According to Grab, the delivery fee is calculated the moment the user presses the Food tile in the Grab app.

Pressing the tile at the same time should lead to an identical delivery fee.

As is shown, the delivery fee was indeed the same amount:

Image via Mothership

Test #2: Saved address vs Manually entered address

Once again, we used identical orders, timings, and delivery locations.

But this time, we tried one account using a saved address, while we manually typed in the address for another account:

Image via Mothership

Again, we found no difference:

Image via Mothership

Test #3: 10 minutes time difference

For the final test, we used the same order, same destination, but now pressed the Food tile 10 minutes apart.

Image via Mothership

Sure enough, there was a price difference of S$0.20.

Image via Mothership

What does this mean?

To find out why some users were facing a discrepancy between delivery fees, we went to Grab for an explanation.

Image via Alvin Philemon, courtesy of Grab

Basically, Grab explained that delivery fees were calculated by Grab’s algorithm based on a number of factors such as demand, weather, traffic and availability of driver-partners in the area.

Delivery fees are calculated the moment a user taps on the Food tile in their Grab app, which checks out with the results of our “experiment”.

Across all three tests that we conducted, the difference in delivery fees only came about when we placed our orders after a 10-minute interval.

TL;DR, The time at which a user taps the Grab app’s food tile is the key driver of fee differences.

Time stamped

In the interest of more transparency and to highlight the importance of timing, the Grab app now displays the exact time that a user’s delivery fee are calculated:

Image courtesy of Grab

If you’re wondering what these changes mean for you, we’ve got you covered:

  • The timestamp helps to log the start time of your order when you tap on the Food tile. 
  • Grab also holds the delivery fee for a period of time,  giving you ample time to scroll and place your orders, assured that your delivery fee will not fluctuate. 

And there you have it. 

Now you can enjoy ordering GrabFood, safe in the knowledge that whether you are a GrabUnlimited subscriber or not, you will be getting the same delivery fee with anyone who clicks on the food tile at the same time as you.

Time to get a GrabUnlimited subscription and start saving on delivery fees. 

This sponsored article by Grab made the writer adopt a Hulk approach to ordering food: ALWAYS HUNGRY. 

Top image via Mothership