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Domino's takes aim at delivery apps by surprising customers with free food

The $50 million free food giveaway is a response to food delivery apps that add surcharges.
/ Source: TODAY

If you've ever ordered ten dollars worth of food on a delivery app, only to find the total in your cart is almost double that when you go to check out, Domino's understands. Instead of adding fees to its online delivery totals, the pizza chain announced that it will be giving away up to $50 million in free food — which could be anything from pizza to lava cake — to customers fed up with questionable fees. The company's "Surprise Frees" program is a direct response to apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats and it's obvious the popular pizza chain wants to grab more delivery orders with this giveaway.

On Monday, Domino's posted about the promotion on Instagram, calling out delivery apps for surprise fees.

"Other delivery apps give you surprise FEES (like, what’s a city fee?), but we’re giving away $50,000,000 in Surprise FREES (including what u see above)," the company posted Monday, referencing the picture of a pizza pie and adding the hashtag #freesnotfees.

During the pandemic, takeout orders skyrocketed as people stayed home for safety. But even as restaurants began to open back up, Domino's still saw strong sales as Americans did not appear to be decreasing their desire for all things comforting and cheesy.

With the "Surprise Frees" program, Domino's is taking aim at the delivery apps that the chain says not only "increase the price of your order" but also can "hurt small restaurants by charging them hefty fees."

"We know it’s frustrating when you don’t know what your order from other food delivery apps will cost, until they add their surprise fees at the very end," Domino's said on its website. "At Domino’s, we don’t do surprise fees. Instead, we’re giving away Surprise Frees, because we think the only surprise you should get is free food."

The chain has resisted using third party delivery services and has asked its customers to "support your local restaurants by ordering and carrying out directly from them."

"It’s frustrating when you don’t know how much to expect in service fees and other charges from food delivery apps," a Domino's spokesperson told TODAY Food in an email. "We think surprise fees are wrong, and that you should get more food for your money."

If you're wondering how it works, Domino’s is surprising randomly selected customers across the U.S. with free menu items now through Nov. 21, 2021 when they order delivery online. The Surprise Free menu items include pizzas, boneless chicken, stuffed cheesy bread and chocolate lava cakes. Surprise Frees will be given to one in 14 existing delivery orders, the company said.

You'll know you're a lucky winner on the order confirmation page and in your confirmation email. Winners will also find a Surprise Frees sticker placed on the box containing the free item (and no, you can't exchange it for something else).

"We charge customers one straightforward delivery fee because we believe that level of transparency is what customers want and deserve," Domino's said on their website.