Food delivery drivers say they aren't being tipped enough by customers to make a living

Food delivery drivers say they aren't being tipped enough by customers to make a living
A DoorDash delivery person.Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • Delivery drivers expercienced a boom during the pandemic, but many say that luck has run out.
  • Now, many drivers are focusing on picking up deliveries from high-end restaurants in hopes of a larger tip.

Delivery drivers experienced a moment in the spotlight during the pandemic — heralded for risking their health to collect, secure, and deliver food and groceries when many people were unable to leave their homes.

Now, many UberEats and DoorDash workers say, the tables have turned and tips are dwindling.

"People were almost applauded," Brantley Bush, a 56-year-old UberEats driver from California, told the New York Times. "Now we're just the bottom of the barrel."

Since the height of online ordering in the thick of the pandemic, delivery drivers have slowly seen their once-lucrative profits fade away. Last summer, some drivers began targeting high-cost orders in hopes of higher tips after DoorDash eliminated its fuel surcharge.

Now, drivers say they still have a hard time turning a profit unless the tip is worth it.


In some cases, drivers have even taken matters into their own hands, refusing to hand over food — or even eating the food they were supposed to deliver — if the tip is too low.

But for the most part, drivers are just trying to get by in an increasingly hostile gig economy.

"If they're going to take me for a cheap, glorified butler — that's not what I am," one delivery driver told the Times.

According to the New York Times, Uber and DoorDash drivers figure they're paid about $3.50 per order, plus $1 per mile they have to drive. But Uber told the Times pay was based on a more complicated formula than that.

For drivers, the difference seems to be negligible. They still have to find specific locations and methods that increase their chances of being offered a delivery from a restaurant — like pressing their phones up against the wall of a building or waiting in an alley near a popular eatery, the New York Times reported.


But even when drivers get an order, they can only see the amount they'll be tipped up to $8 — far below the big scores many drivers are looking for.

"It's like gambling," Bush told the New York Times of the hunt for a livable wage on tips.

According to DoorDash, the growing strategy of accepting only high-volume, expensive orders doesn't actually net more pay for drivers. A spokesperson for the delivery company told the Times it determined accepting more orders leads to better pay than accepting only high-cost ones.

"The data show that when Dashers accept more orders, they generally earn more during the course of their dash," Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, a spokeswoman for DoorDash, said in a statement to the Times.