There was a time, before I started delivery driving, when I was a frequent delivery customer (which I still am, but I tip a lot better these days). I imagine this is true of most drivers.
During that time, I had some assumptions about the delivery drivers’ experience that turned out to be erroneous, and there were other things that I just didn’t even really think about in that experience. Today, I’d like to share some thoughts on those things.
Drivers don’t see fees at all
Every time you order from one of these apps, there are always various fees associated. Small order fee, delivery fee, service fee, etc. None of these fees go to the drivers. I always assumed that at least the delivery fee went to the driver, until I started doing the driving myself.
What’s really interesting is that when I order from a specific restaurant’s website, it tells me this on the website. The restaurants want you to tip their drivers, and often recommend that you do so.
This is simply not the case on DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates, or GrubHub.
They tell you what the fees are, but they never actually say, “This fee is not going to the driver. You should tip your driver.” Why? I don’t know, but it seems like a whole other article could discuss theories on why delivery apps don’t want you paying the drivers too much.
Drivers only see one order at a time
Maybe this is just the gamer in me, but I always assumed that the driver apps would look similar to picking up quests in various role playing video games. I figured there would be a map showing restaurant icons that drivers could tap for order details. Drivers would then be able to assign those orders to themselves, but with a limit of maybe two at a time so people couldn’t troll the whole system by picking up every order.
But no, it’s nothing like that at all. Drivers are shown one order at a time and asked to pick it up or decline. They have no idea whether or not there’s a better order waiting to be picked up, which means they might feel pressured to pick up whatever orders they can get.
Tips are often garbage
There are a lot of jerks out there who just don’t tip, or who don’t tip very much. And it doesn’t even seem to matter if you’re delivering to rich neighborhoods or from expensive restaurants.
Good and bad tippers exist in every demographic.
What’s worse, in my opinion, is that the apps don’t even show you how much someone is tipping. They just give a total dollar amount of what you’ll make on the order (if you’re lucky).
This is relevant because your customer rating dropping can get you deactivated, and the garbage tippers are also the most likely to find something that they think you did wrong and give you a poor rating.
Also, on UberEats, customers can actually change their tip after you accept the order. So I can go on UberEats right now, order food, say I’m gonna tip $50, get my order picked up really fast, then change the amount to $3.
The driver won’t even know the amount has changed until after they complete the order and see what they’re getting paid. And it’s not like there’s anything the driver can do to report a customer for tip baiting, so I’m sure a lot of people do this.
If a customer is unhappy, the driver will likely be punished
Let’s say I go to a restaurant and pick up an order. I walk in or go through the drive-through, and I get handed a sealed bag by some employee.
I have no idea what’s in it, and I’m not even allowed to check. Even if I could check, I don’t work at that restaurant. I don’t know their menu items at a glance. All I can really do is ask the employee if the right items are in the bag. And honestly, they’re just gonna say yes, possibly even feel offended that I’m questioning their ability to do their job.
Now let’s say that when I deliver that order and the customer opens the bag, it’s completely the wrong order. I, as the driver, had no control over that, but that customer will still probably give me a 1 star rating. Why? Because they’re rightly pissed, and honestly the driver is the only person at whom they can lash out.
Base pay is super low
Without tips, the money drivers make per order is pretty low. We don’t actually even know the pay formulas for each app because they’re not public knowledge which does not inspire confidence. Also, we don’t actually get paid per mile that we drive.
We get paid for the mileage from the restaurant to the customer, which means we don’t get paid for our mileage to the restaurant in the first place, and if the customer is way out in the middle of nowhere, we also don’t get paid for the mileage back to civilization so that we can pick up another order.
That mileage for which we’re not getting paid still consumes gas and puts wear on our vehicles.
Navigation apps are about 85% trustworthy
Now maybe this is just Google Maps (which is what DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates link to), but there are definitely times when the driver has to be smarter than the app.
Some routes are inefficient, and some addresses are just plain wrong in there.
As a new driver, I trusted it a bit too much and got a lot better at the job once I started taking a few moments on each order to review the route from the restaurant to the customer.
What’s really a pain is when you know you’re at the right place, but the app doesn’t believe you, so it won’t let you pick up or complete the order you’re on because it thinks you’re nowhere near the location.
I’ve had to learn which restaurants in my area have wrong locations in Google Maps and just decline those orders because I don’t want to have to call customer service to get them to fix the problem. And don’t even get me started on customer service, maybe that can be a future article...