Uh oh. Seamless' credibility just went right down the toilet.
What this means for you: Where you think you're ordering from might not actually be where you're ordering from.
These so-called “ghost” restaurants often operate out of homes or out of established kitchens as a way to fly under the health department's radar.
In one case, the I-Team identified a ghost restaurant called “Really Chinese,” listed on GrubHub at 235 E 31st St. But when they visited that address to see the restaurant, it wasn't there; in fact, there was no trace of any establishment called “Really Chinese” in the Health Department's records.
The team later found out “Really Chinese” was a fake restaurant operating out of Abby Chinese, a nearby eatery with a B grade. According to records, health inspectors noted evidence of rats or roaches six times in the past two years in Abby's kitchen — something Seamless customers would never know about otherwise.
According to Abby Chinese manager Gary Chen, ghost restaurants give establishments a way to attract more customers.
He told NBC News,
When we have one line, it's hard to compete. We know how many lines some of the other restaurants have. It's an open secret.
Though neither Seamless nor GrubHub is required by law to verify restaurants before listing them, the I-Team's investigation (fortunately) prompted the companies, which merged in 2013, to re-evaluate their practices.
GrubHub spokeswoman Abby Hunt says,
We take the accuracy of our restaurant listings seriously. We are partnering with New York's Department of Consumer Affairs to address the issue and remove inaccuracies.
Hunt added GrubHub and Seamless are working to verify all listings on both websites, and encourages anyone who spots an inaccuracy to email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on this report, head to NBC New York.