Thanks to its affordable prices, convenient delivery, and fun stunts like guest meals from top SF chefs, Sprig has become a major player in the burgeoning local food-delivery app market. In fact, its popularity has crested so high that it's taking a page out of competitor Uber's book, by introducing surge pricing for food deliveries. Valleywag caught Sprig CEO Gagan Biyani's Medium post on the subject, in which he touts the company's new "dynamic delivery fees." Quoth Biyani: "Dynamic delivery fees will adjust up or down throughout Sprig's service based on how busy things get and how far away a delivery is. While delivery fees will go up during the rushes , like at 8pm in the Marina, they will also decrease when things are slower, meaning you may even see free delivery!" The surge pricing will be accompanied by another new fee: Sprig is charging California sales tax for the first time (instead of including it in the price), which they're spinning as a necessity for continued sourcing of farm-fresh produce.
Uber has gotten a lot of flack for surge pricing rides during periods of great demand for cars, whether rainstorms, Giants games, or music festivals. But considering that a large number of Sprig's users will likely want their lunch in the noon to 1 pm range, and their dinner around seven or so, this definitely has a whiff of price-gouging, which may backfire, given that diners have quite a few other choices for satisfying their hunger. There's a reason why restaurants don't charge 10% more at prime hours, or let customers who pay more for their Chinese takeout get bumped to the top of the delivery queue. (Memo to Y Combinator folks desperately seeking an app to develop: don't get any ideas.) Will the price hikes allow Sprig to "sustainably grow, bringing the service beyond San Francisco to the rest of the Bay Area, and the country," as Biyani writes? Or will they kill Sprig in its crib? Only time will tell.