According to our correspondents as well as internet sources from other journalists, Grubhub consumers reported down servers and closed restaurants during the free lunch promotion on Tuesday.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, the food delivery service Grubhub offered people in New York City a free lunch with a special promotional code. Many consumers reported the app malfunctioning due to overloaded servers as NYC residents and office employees used the code FREELUNCH at checkout. Others discovered that establishments in their region were closed during the giveaway hours.

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Grubhub announced the initiative on May 11 after a survey revealed that 69 percent of New Yorkers admit to skipping lunch throughout the workday. In a statement, Senior VP Ariella Kurshan stated, “As the city’s best meal delivery service, this is just one tiny step in our bigger mission to connect local eateries with hungry diners.”

“People in New York City can use promo code FREELUNCH at checkout in the Grubhub app for up to $15 off their order subtotal between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 17,” the business said. “Plus, for those who missed out, Grubhub will be running a $5 off special in NYC until May 31.”

Many diners, though, appeared to have missed out on the free lunch offer. Grubhub became the top trending subject on Twitter when people complained the app crashed, their discount code expired, or local eateries refused to participate.

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“Who could have guessed that Grubhub’s offer of free lunch to the entire city of New York for a three-hour period would be a complete disaster?” Kevin Ryan, a journalist, remarked

“The app is crashing 3 minutes into @Grubhub’s free lunch promotion. “So much hype and marketing, just to fumble out of the gate,” Twitter user Lee-on Pedahzur remarked.

Another user complained, “Why did @Grubhub offer free delivery in NYC and then the restaurants all shut off their delivery?”

“Fav this tweet if you were on the nyc Grubhub battle field fighting for your free lunch,” one person joked, while another quipped, “Grubhub said free lunch and all the restaurants said no.”

Is COVID19 affecting the foot service industry?

Yes, according to the New York State Department of Labor, the Covid-19 epidemic has had a severe impact on the food service industry, with employment plummeting by 35% between 2019 and 2020. According to the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, there were more than 40,000 food enterprises in NYC in March 2021, employing 500,000 people. However, employment in full-service restaurants is “more than 1/3 lower currently than pre-pandemic.”

While many Grubhub users complained about the app’s servers, others criticized the firm for launching a free food promotion in the wake of the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the food service industry.

COVID19’s Impact on the Foot Services Industry

In NYC, an estimated 80,000 workers distribute meals, as the epidemic heightened demand for no-contact food delivery via third-party services like Instacart, Postmates, and Grubhub. Approximately 65,000 of these “gig workers” – self-employed individuals – deliver for food delivery apps across the city.

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“Today, my heart breaks for every food service worker in New York City. “God only knows why Grubhub thought a free lunch promotion in this city would be anything but CHAOS,” one Twitter user said.

Another commenter added, “A minute of silence for the NYC front line food service workers that lost their jobs today as a result of the Grubhub $15 dollar free lunch deal.”

One waitress said that their Brooklyn eatery was swamped with “30 cold orders not picked up by drivers” and ringing phones from irate customers. Another New Yorker revealed that they decided to eat lunch at a neighborhood establishment instead, but that it was also overrun with Grubhub free lunch orders.

While the official Grubhub Twitter account has responded to consumers who have received their free lunch, the company has yet to respond to the majority of complaints from users who have had problems with the app.