Gig workers are tricked into working for below minimum wage

Gig workers are tricked into working for below minimum wage

I will never forget my first Grubhub delivery. 

It was from a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn and I was beyond excited. I even planned what outfit I was going to wear that day. Back in 2015, the gig economy was new to me and new to my area. I needed to make some money and Craigslist boasted that you would earn a guaranteed $12 per hour delivering food. “I can handle this,” I told myself. 

That first order went well and so did every order that I did that week. I completed 18 orders and made $404.11 my first week. It was the easiest money I had ever earned at the time.

There on out, I hustled as much as I could to earn the max amount of extra income that my schedule would allow. My eyes were open to the endless opportunities that the gig economy had to offer. Eventually, I expanded my arsenal of apps. I knew when to work and how to work smart. The distances were short and the drop-offs were easy.

Somewhere along the line, the market became saturated, the distances were farther and the pay decreased. I bounced from one app to another but eventually, the outcome would be the same.

Fast forward to 2021 and not much has changed. Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates all seem to follow the same blueprint. ‘Get the most out of the drivers, while paying them the least.’ 

The distances went from a max radius of 5 miles to some drop-offs being 20+ miles or more. All for a whopping $3. The $12 per hour guarantee is no longer available and if you do not take the time to learn the algorithm you would be working for below minimum wage, especially when you factor in maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle.

Each app has its means of deception. 

DoorDash will not reveal the full pay on certain orders offered. Grubhub will show you the pay, but not the total mileage to get to the customers' house. Postmates is the absolute worst. Nothing is revealed, not the mileage, or the payout... Heck we are lucky that they tell us which restaurant we are picking up from. UberEats is the most transparent of them all. You will be shown the restaurant, the full pay, mileage, and cross streets of the drop-off. It has not always been this way, but we welcome the improvement.

This makes me think, why the trickery? Who does it benefit to pick up an order and deliver it 40 minutes away for pennies on the dollar?

Not the customer, drivers will continue to decline their orders and the food will sit at the restaurant for over an hour sometimes. Not the delivery drivers, who live by the motto “time is money”. The companies are benefiting. They are winning! The top priority for them is their bottom dollar.

One thing for sure is you cannot squeeze water from a stone.

Drivers have no more to sacrifice, without working for free. Bring back better business practices. Delivering food should never be as difficult as it has become.

I miss the ease of pick up and drop off. Now I have to analyze the distance, payout, and neighborhood all within 20-30 seconds. Not to mention, you have a constant fear of being deactivated if your overall rating falls or if a customer claims they did not receive their food, even though some of us have photos and body cam footage. 

The customers are always right and the drivers get the short end of the stick most of the time. I do not mind working but I truly miss the simplicity of that first order I ever did.

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