CookUnity Meal Service: The Food’s Great But the UI Needs Some Help

By Published On: June 22nd, 20225.5 min read

I have finally accepted that I hate cooking, and that is the reason why I end up not eating as well as I should. When I lived in NYC and fresh meals were just steps away, I ate (and felt) much better. Now that I’m in a car culture in Portland, it’s not so prevalent or convenient. I have tried meal prep kits, but that takes away the only fun part for me (picking up the ingredients) and it’s still cooking. So I decided to start using a service where the meals are already cooked.

After a little research I decided to start with CookUnity. Everything is “chef-based” these days but this service got good reviews for the taste of food. Plus, they had a 50% off coupon for my first order! So I picked eight meals for the week, and felt good about myself. Here are the issues that left me feeling not so good.

System Was Charging Me Sales Tax in Oregon

On the payment page, I noticed that it was charging me sales tax. I live in Oregon, and we don’t have sales tax here. I have done much ordering online, and usually the system is smart enough to realize what to charge (or not charge) for sales tax by zip code.

No Apparent Way to Change Plan for First Order

A few days after the order, I realized if I’m getting a 50% off coupon for my first order, I should double up on food and put half in the freezer. I hadn’t gotten my first order yet, so I didn’t yet see a “change plan” option. I had to contact customer service. I logged in, and while I could find a way to change which meals would be sent, I didn’t find a way to switch “plans” for the coming week. So I had to contact customer service.

Their “Live Chat” Isn’t Really Live

Cook Unity’s has a “live chat” link on their site. But it’s not live. Well, it’s “live” in the sense that when you hit the chat button/link, a chatbot answers you immediately. But if you need the help of a real human immediately, you won’t get it. The chatbot passes your issue to the support queue, and you have to wait for someone to get back to you. It took a few days for someone to get back to me, and they contacted me over text. They sent me a link to be able to switch plans. I did, and I saw the “invoice” and it was again charging me sales tax. Then I accidentally closed the tab in the browser with the order. When I logged back in again, it had lost my plan switch, so I had to start over. This time, it let me switch the plan and pick more meals, but it never showed me the invoice page again.

I again contacted their support, and I asked how I could view my current order, to ensure that the 50% off coupon was applied, and to see the tax. I was told I could not (bad UX!!). I was assured that the 50% off first order coupon was in fact applied, and when the order was placed the following Thursday, that the tax would not be in the invoice.

50% Coupon Not Applied

Well you can guess what happened next: my order day came, and I saw a charge of $176.23 on my card. They’d charged me the whole amount, no discount applied. I contacted them and they said “sorry” and said they’d refund me the 50%, but then had to wait for a refund. They didn’t even offer to give me anything for my trouble. I had to ask, and then they gave me a 25% off for a future order.

Desktop and Mobile UI Are Different

Now that I’ve ordered something, I can see my invoice under “Past orders” but I still can’t see an upcoming order invoice. And even that is different between desktop and mobile. On desktop past orders are found under “past orders” but on mobile it’s found under “history.” I suspect engineers are doing UX at this company.

Delivery Issues

When I initially set up my account, these were my delivery options.

First, what is the difference between “deliver to my door” and “leave at my door?” They sound the same. I suspect that “deliver to my door” means “leave it with a person.” If so they should say that.

I wouldn’t be home at the delivery time, and I didn’t want to them to leave it because I live in an area with many porch pirates. I live in an apartment complex that has delivery locker system in the main building, so I have to select the only remaining option, “leave with doorman.” You can tell that CookUnity originated on the east coast (they didn’t even deliver to the rest of the country when they started). Doormen are ubiquitous in buildings on the east coast, but are rare in the rest of the country. This button would be better named something like “leave at office/mailroom/lockers.”

Now, when I originally set up this account, there was a field for “delivery instructions” so I did write in, “check into package lockers in office building.” Oddly, this information doesn’t show up here, under “delivery info” where you’d expect it. It’s hidden under ADDRESS INFO, but only is visible if I click Edit.

So, the day of the delivery comes, and soon I get a notification from Cook Unity that my package has been delivered. Since I didn’t get a notification from my package locker system, I suspected that the food had in fact been delivered to my door. So another round with customer service, and they sent me the picture the driver snapped of the package in front of my door. Customer service talked to driver, and sure enough, he got confused as there wasn’t a doorman, so he just left the package at my door. Why didn’t he see my delivery instructions? Maybe they didn’t appear to him in his app.

Soooo…..Is It Worth It?

So, after all that, I was hoping the food was going to be worth the trouble and….it is! I’ve had three meals so far, and all have been very tasty. And I’m happy not to have to cook!

I told Cook Unity about the UI suggestions, and hopefully they’ll fix them going forward.

Charlene Jaszewski

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