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Here is my experience delivering food for Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub from 2017 to 2019 in San Diego, California.
While food delivery services and apps change often, my experience highlights the challenges of making money delivering food.
While food delivery can help you make a little extra money, it’s really not a great side hustle and definitely not passive income, because your base hourly pay is set by the company you’re working for and you can only drive for so many hours a day.
Food Delivery App Job Reviews
Postmates Delivery Job Review
I delivered food for Postmates from January to July 2017.
Overall: When I started, the base pay was $4.80 per trip. It was later lowered to $4.10. Customers added the tip on the app after the delivery was complete, but they did not always tip.
The good: In the case an order was cancelled, Postmates would chip in a dollar or two to compensate the driver.
The bad: I didn’t know where the drop off was until I picked up the food (blind pickup). Tips are unreliable. Having to go in the restaurant, order, wait and pay with the “Postmates” credit card is inefficient.
What I learned: Not knowing where the delivery was until I got the food got very old. One day after I first started in January 2017, I did 4 runs. Three of those turned out to be deliveries to La Jolla from my neighborhood.
Two of the orders were Thai food and the other Mexican food, as if there are no Thai or Mexican restaurants in La Jolla. I put over 100 miles on my car that day, which I consider extreme. This shows me how inefficient the Postmates’ system is.
Tips are hit or miss with Postmates. Some customers just never tipped or closed out their order at all so all I ever saw on the app for those runs were “tip pending”.
Uber Eats Delivery Job Review
I delivered food for Uber Eats from May to September 2017.
Overall: The Uber Eats delivery job base pay was $3.25 per trip unless there was a “bonus” area or promotion going on.
The good: Customers would meet me at the curb to collect their food. No gig “credit card” required. All payments are made online by customers.
The bad: Customers rarely tip if at all. Uber encourages them not to. I didn’t know where the drop off was until I picked up the food (another blind pickup).
What I learned: I didn’t stick with Uber Eats for very long. The low payouts, rare cash tips and unknown delivery destinations did not financially benefit me.
Grubhub Delivery Job Review
I delivered food for Grubhub from July 2017 to July 2019.
Overall: Grubhub was decent money until about July 2019.
The good: The app displays where the pickup and drop-off is as well as the total payout (tip included) before the offer is accepted. No gig “credit card” required. All payments are made online by customers.
The bad: The most recent pay and dispatch changes in June and July 2019 forced me to give up this gig. (Grubhub does not compensate the driver for cancelled orders either.)
What I learned: In June 2019 they changed their mileage pay from .50 a mile in a “straight line”, to .20 a mile on the “actual estimated route”. The base delivery pay was lowered from $3 per trip.
Grubhub considers these changes a “raise”. According to the “heat map” on the app, I live in the middle of the hottest (central county) area for ordering in my region, however, I would constantly be sent offers to north county, east county, Coronado Island, Imperial Beach, downtown… anywhere but the “hot area” where I already was. If this wasn’t bad enough, the dispatch had other changes as well.
When a driver “rejects” 10 (either low paying or too far away) offers, that driver is placed in “timeout” for over 3 hours even when on a scheduled block. My Grubhub driver specialist would not admit to a “timeout” in the dispatch system. She only said “more rejects means less offers.”
Clearly, the changes do not benefit the drivers. The system keeps drivers online who accept most orders, no matter how low the payout or how far the drive is. Obviously, this is how Grubhub is cleaning house with their drivers, to bring in lower pay drivers, instead of accommodating them. As a result, these changes ran me off.
What I learned about food delivery in general
I am aware that some people in food delivery do this full time, so good for them! They do what they have to do! The blind pickups of Postmates and Uber Eats as well as the rare tips and low payouts did not encourage me to stay with either of them.
Grubhub was a decent gig for awhile, until they made the recent pay and dispatch changes.
Gas is about $4 a gallon in San Diego, so that along with these changes discouraged me completely. Corporate greed while shorting the drivers has me disgusted with this industry.
There are better things to do out there than waste my time and gas being a “charity” driver for these gigs. I have moved on! Peace out Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub!
Can you make money delivering food?
After keeping close records of expenses, I was marginally profitable. This type of gig work requires extra gas and puts more wear and tear on a car, which in turn results in more repair bills that eat away at profits.
There are expenses I would pay anyway however, such as insurance, cell phone and registration.
Still, putting these expenses aside, gig work can make some money, depending on how much you want to drive and spend on gas. There are more environmentally and economically friendly ways out there to earn money.
I have personally learned about the value of tipping. I always tip for a haircut or waiters in a restaurant (double the tax).
People working in these areas are doing you a service, so reward them with a little something extra! I did not comprehend or appreciate this before as much as I do now! To learn more about whether you can make money delivering food you can check out my appearance on CBS.
How can these gigs improve?
I recommend more transparency. The driver should be not only be able to see the pick-up, drop off and total payout, but should be able to reject an offer without penalty.
An efficient dispatch system sending drivers to areas they are already in instead of areas miles away would also be a bonus.
Mileage should be calculated from where the driver accepts the offer until the food is delivered. Base pay from the gig should be at least $5 per trip (being the multi-million industry it is, they can afford to pay their drivers).
All gigs should require mandatory tips to the driver, as well as compensation for cancelled orders when the driver is already en route.
Tips for food delivery drivers
I have heard the best way to be profitable from this is to “multi app”. This gets around the Grubhub “timeouts” and could work if you don’t mind the blind pickups (which I consider a safety issue) via Postmates, Uber Eats and DoorDash in larger markets, while spending extra money on gas.
These gigs also do not track or pay you for mileage correctly. I learned to track my own mileage for tax purposes, through a separate app. In fact, I learned to track everything else that applies to include gas expenses, cell phone bills and any car repair bills, all for tax purposes.
Also depending on your area, you should find out if a business tax license is required. As independent contractors we get 1099’s and have to report our income from each gig (when you earn over $600 in a year).
Your county or city may fine you in time, if you do not take care of this. It is better to pay for a license up front then get fined later on. The gigs do not tell you about this since they are not concerned with your tax situation.
Tips for food delivery customers
Please tip your driver! The delivery fee does not go to the driver or the restaurant, it goes to the gig! Either 20% or $5, (whichever is higher) is a good place to start for the driver tip.
In the case of Grubhub, If you enter $.00 in the app for the tip, it will bounce around from driver to driver until someone accepts it, which causes delays in the delivery. If you intend to tip cash, note that in the app for the driver. This may keep the driver from “reassigning” the delivery, which also causes delays.
If you order at night, please leave your porch light on. It is very difficult to see addresses in the dark.
Drivers are independent contractors and pay for their own insurance, registration, gas, repairs and cell phone bills. Please do not stiff your delivery driver! The better you tip, the better the service will be, such as with any service.
This article originally appeared on my personal blog here.
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- My Experience Delivering for Uber Eats, Postmates, & Grubhub - October 3, 2019