Using food delivery apps can add up to 44% more to your bill than ordering direct from restaurants, a study found.

That means customers could be paying almost £13 extra, consumer watchdog Which? said.

And it is often more difficult to lodge a complaint when orders go wrong. Deliveroo was found to be the dearest, with a bill for a £31.65 meal up by 44%, or £12.29. Uber Eats is 25% more expensive and Just Eat 7%.

The research found while apps offered restaurants and families a takeaway lifeline during lockdown, food ordered through a delivery service cost an average of 23% more.

Deliveroo was found to be the dearest with the food bill up by 44% - or £12.29 - compared with calling the restaurant itself to place a order.

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Uber Eats is another popular online food ordering platform
Uber Eats is another popular online food ordering platform

A snapshot look at prices of meals using Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat for up to four people from five restaurants revealed a mark up of the menu by 25% when using Uber Eats and 7% for Just Eat orders.

Prices on apps are generally set by restaurants but they argue they need to raise the cost of the “appy meals” to cover commissions between 15-35% charged by the delivery services.

But in a counter argument, the apps told Which? the fees were essential to pay for delivery drivers, insurance and customer services staff.

According to a Which? survey of 2,000 Brits, seven in 10 use delivery apps for takeaways or groceries at least once a month now compared with six in 10 pre-pandemic.

Just Eat was the most popular with 39% using it, 26% opted for Uber Eats and 20% for Deliveroo.

Overall, more than half of those using any of the apps had encountered problems such as items missing from the order, cold food, late deliveries - or no delivery at all.

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In this file photo taken on December 18, 2017 a sign for Just Eat, a food delivery service is pictured outside a restaurant in London
Just Eat has made itself the middle man between restaurants and customers

Of those who hit glitches with their orders, 53% of Deliveroo customers found it difficult to lodge a compliant compared with 46% of those using Just Eat and 42% of Uber Eats users.

And while Uber Eats offered customers cash refunds Deliveroo and Just Eat users were given a credit note or voucher.

Which? said: “Some of these credits and vouchers come with expiry dates, and if consumers are not regular users, they could lose their money.”

Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “Next time you fancy a takeaway, you should be aware that the undoubted convenience offered by a delivery app comes with a hidden additional cost. If something goes wrong with your order, you might also find yourself caught between the restaurant and the app.

“Food delivery apps should do more to make the responsibilities of the restaurant and themselves clear so consumers are not caught between the two if there’s a problem with their order.

“If customers are owed a refund for a delivery which has gone wrong, they should remember they may be entitled to a cash refund under consumer law - they don’t have to accept credit or a voucher if it isn’t what they want.”

Deliveroo said it aimed to offer value-for-money as well as boost trade for smaller restaurants.

A spokesperson said: “We encourage restaurants to set the same menu prices as they offer customers when dining in, and the commission we charge is then reinvested back into our business, paying for riders’ fees, customer services and upgrading our services for restaurants.”

Just Eat said: “We believe our commission rates are aligned with the value we provide to our partners and we have a track record of helping restaurants prosper.

“Whenever we’re made aware of any customer experience that falls short of the high standards we hope to deliver, we will always investigate and take appropriate action to ensure we find a suitable solution.”

An Uber Eats spokesperson said: “We have a dedicated customer service team to help customers who have issues with their orders, and we would encourage anyone who does have an issue to reach out in the ‘help’ section of the app.”