Beware of Hotel Pizza Flyers — Are They a Scam?
For the past week, my wife and I have been staying in Orlando, Florida… and mostly spending time in our hotel room (well, actually a timeshare unit, but same difference). A couple of days ago, as I headed to the kitchen, I noticed that a flyer for a pizza delivery place had been slipped under our door. Being a bit familiar with the Orlando area, I was immediately skeptical of this piece of paper — but why? Well, it could very well be a scam.
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll likely come across various horror stories involving Orlando pizza flyer scams. To be fair, these tales actually reflect various levels of scamdom. In some cases, the victims report that their pizza was never delivered and that fraudulent charges began showing on their cards shortly afterward. Meanwhile, some hungry tourists did receive (often subpar) food but were hit with unexpected fees in the process — with subsequent fraudulent charges also sometimes being added to the mix. This is likely why, when we stayed at the Caribe Royale hotel near Walt Disney World, there were signs in the room warning of these flyers.
So was this particular flyer we received a scam? Well, it’s hard to say since I sure as hell wasn’t going to try to place an order. However, there are some sketchy elements to it for sure. First, despite this place advertising take-out and dine-in options along with delivery, there’s no physical address listed on the flyer. Second, when running a search for the restaurant’s name, no results came up (the name is also a type of pizza, making it difficult to search for in the first place).
However, when I Google’s the phone number, results for a different pizza place in the area came up. Elsewhere, the flyer’s small text discloses a $2.99 card processing fee, which seems pretty high — and the note reading “Please call from your cell while placing your order” struck me as a bit odd. Finally, I also found it funny that the bottom text names the service that printed the flyers, but also says “[name of company] does NOT distribute flyers.” In other words, “Don’t blame us!”
Ultimately, if I had to guess, I think that this particular pizza place is somewhat legit… but probably not great quality. That would explain the different names as they likely want to prevent people from coming across their low Yelp score. Incidentally, on that Yelp page, I saw some people noting other pseudonyms apparently used by the location as well. Meanwhile, although the card processing fee feels a bit dirty to me, I guess it’s good that was disclosed, right? And, for the record, this place was also available on Grubhub, so it has to at least be kind of real.
Considering what the past year has brought, I wouldn’t be surprised if tourists were even more willing to support small businesses and restaurants while traveling. Plus, with “ghost kitchens” becoming quite a craze, the whole “alternative name” thing and lack of physical address on the flyer might not be as big of a red flag for some people. Alas, these realities only make it easier for scammers to pull one over on unsuspecting (and hungry) vacationers. So while I’m not sure whether or not I just dodged a scam attempt, it’s a good reminder to be vigilant and protect yourself from bad actors in Orlando and elsewhere.