Takeaway customers in Fallowfield have been claiming that their orders were never delivered and demanding refunds - despite delivery drivers taking photos of the food on the doorsteps, a restauranteur has claimed.
The man, who has asked to remain anonymous to prevent more people trying the trick, wants people to realise the impact it is having on local businesses at a time when they are already under immense strain.
He says that the issue has become much more widespread in the last year and seems to stem from the student population.
As a former student in the area, he says he's aware of the method being shared as a 'hack' and a way to 'cheat Deliveroo'.
He says that people falsely claiming that their order is missing or damaged need to understand the impact the scam has on independent businesses like his.
He says: "I'm getting calls (claiming food hasn't arrived) every single day now. It's 10 to 20 phone calls a week and it's always the same postcodes, it's the student areas. It's something that's really picked up since lockdown.
"I've had to deal with nearly so many claims this year already, it's quite a chunk of time. If all those refunds had happened I'd be an extra £2000 down, and we're already 70 per cent down.
"It upsets and p***es people off, and it completely ruins the morale in the kitchen.
"Chefs are proud of what they make and our drivers work for me full-time - it's their only source of income. Most of them are music industry people I've hired since their industry went down.
"They're all people who need the work and for them to be told they've not delivered to the right address or something's not up to scratch, it shocks the whole team."
He says that as a a result of bogus claims he's implemented a system to prevent fraudulent claims, but it's still left the business with a mountain of admin.
His drivers share their route, take photos of the front door, and ask the customers to confirm their name before handing over the food.
As Deliveroo have agents dedicated to resolving refund claims between customer and restaurant, evidence like this is vital.
When the M.E.N. approached Deliveroo for comment, they said that customers are flagged in their system if they claim a refund on a high percentage of orders, that they investigate thoroughly before awarding refunds, and have the ability to block certain addresses who are repeat offenders.
"We go through a series of checks to find out what happened once the order left the restaurant," they said.
"For example, we look at whether the rider was in the vicinity of the customer’s address, or if the rider contacted the customer to let them know they arrived."
The platform says in its restaurant FAQs: "On occasion, like many other businesses, we experience ‘bad actors’ that use our platform for fraud and abuse. We’re continually evolving our systems to detect this activity to benefit our partners.
"We have a dedicated team of agents assigned to resolving refund claims and a decision-making tool to detect harmful activity. We aim to block re-offenders and have introduced SMS verification to aid this."
The Fallowfield business-owner doesn't know if refunds have been awarded until he gets his monthly invoices from Deliveroo.
He says it's not an issue he experiences when people order from him directly, which makes him believe people think they are 'cheating' Deliveroo.
"As soon as the restaurant calls, they hang up the phone," he says.
"They seem to think it's not affecting an independent restaurant, that their actions are affecting Deliveroo.
"So when they get a phone call from the restaurant, because we want to investigate and make sure we get their food to them, every single one of them goes silent and hangs up.
"People thinking it's an option to order takeaway and not pay for it is fairly wrong.
"It really upsets me, because as soon as I contact the team in the kitchen I can tell they get really worried.
"I'd never accuse anyone of anything, I take a neutral ground and just want to investigate it.
"I could be doing 100 hours a week quite easily in the kitchen but instead I've brought in as many staff as possible so that people have jobs.
"I'm doing my best to build a reputation of having great food and a reliable service.
"I don't know how people can do that to a small independent business."