MORELAND HILLS, Ohio — Weichaun Dong was left with nearly $1,000 in unexpected repairs at his Moreland Hills home after a food delivery man backed into his yard and destroyed his underground sewage system. The entire incident was captured on video by his home security system on October 26.
Watch this report at 11pm on News 5
Dong and his wife told News 5 Grubhub’s delivery driver apologized for the damage, but their car had to be towed from the scene and Grubhub initially refused to pay for the repairs.
“We both noticed that our sewage treatment plant’s cleaning pipe was broken, and we thought it might be a minor damage,” Dong said. I had to fix it immediately or it would do more damage. Because it’s our septic system, we were concerned that we might not be able to flush our toilets or something.”
Dong said he later found a more reasonable estimate of $900 for the repair, but after four days and multiple phone calls, said Grubhub fired the delivery driver but still refused to compensate him for his property damage.
“The driver and Grubhub, each of them should be responsible, not the property owner,” Dong said. “After an hour of talking they said oh it’s not their fault and I should contact the driver for a refund. The delivery driver agreed that if I got her job back, she would give me $100 a week for nine weeks.”
Ericka Dilworth, director of operations for the Cleveland Better Business Bureau, told News 5 that not all delivery companies have the same policies when it comes to driver injury liability. Dilworth said it’s crucial for homeowners to do their homework and thoroughly document property damage with photos, videos and multiple written damage repair estimates when attempting to recover damages.
“Documentation is incredibly important,” said Dilworth. “A lot of companies want to do it right, but some companies may have established in their policies that they are not responsible for the actions of their drivers.”
“In most cases, these drivers are independent contractors and not actual employees of the company, which also complicates things a bit,” added Dilworth. “You just need to know what your options are if something like this happens. She would certainly want to get a police report to document that it happened. Many consumers will not want to include this in their own homeowners insurance.”
Dilworth said taking the driver and delivery company to small claims court is an option, but there is no guarantee it will produce results.
“You can certainly try to trace the driver or the company and even get a verdict. But again, even if you have yet to seek judgment, it can be difficult,” Dilworth said. “They should find out what the business policy is, they should try to reach the driver or at least get the driver’s number plate so that when they report it to the police they have all the information.”
News 5 contacted Grubhub headquarters in Chicago about the case and the company responded quickly, promising to cover the cost of the repair. The company issued the following statement:
Providing the best experience to everyone who interacts with our brand is our priority and the vast majority of our orders are fulfilled without incident or complaints. When things don’t go as planned, we work hard to make things right again. We require all delivery partners to be insured and make deliveries in a safe manner and our team have reached out to Mr Dong to remedy the situation and compensate for the damage.
Meanwhile, Dong said he’s happy News 5 can help, but said it shouldn’t be necessary for the media to intervene to get a company to do the right thing.
“Thank you, thank you for News 5,” Dong said. “Immediately, shortly after two hours, they contacted me and said we agree, we will gladly reimburse you for the damage. I think your intervention is fantastic. You were my last resort for something like this. I think maybe Cleveland, News 5 would do me a favor, but I didn’t expect you to come and fix everything for me.