I am absolutely disgusted right now. And I’m angry. On behalf of all delivery drivers everywhere, I had to share this experience and explain why this should never happen again.

Driving For Uber Eats is Necessary

Many of our nation’s workers have been left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have not received our stimulus checks or unemployment benefits forcing us to find ways to survive. In this sense, Uber Eats is wonderful because it helps put some much-needed cash in our pockets. However, Uber Eats drivers are barely making minimum wage after factoring in gas, maintenance of the car, insurance costs and wear and tear on the vehicle. 

There are other basic risks involved as an Uber Eats driver. Research shows that the more you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in a car accident. Being on the road for hours a day is mentally exhausting as driving requires 100% focus. Plus, there are negative health outcomes from sitting in a car for hours a day, multiple days a week. I am only doing this part-time to break even and cover my daily expenses, but many drivers are doing this for more than 40 hours a week. 

These are the basic risks that have always been a part of being a delivery driver and ones that are just part of the job during normal times. But these aren’t normal times. There is a global pandemic that is encouraging everyone to stay at home, maximize social distancing, and wear personal protective gear (PPE). As delivery drivers trying to survive, we can’t stay in our homes, we can’t practice social distancing, and the only PPE we have is whatever we can find or make. And many of us never planned on being delivery drivers, but it’s the only possible source of income right now making driving for Uber Eats quite necessary.

Uber Eats Response To Covid19

Uber Eats has tried to do a few things right amidst the coronavirus pandemic. They’re encouraging “no-contact deliveries” where delivery drivers leave food at door. Generally, I think this is a good idea, except for when the customer lives inside an apartment … or a hospital. 

Uber Eats No-Contact Delivery
No-contact deliveries work until they ask you to deliver to a hospital room

You see, when delivery drivers have to enter an apartment building that they’ve never been to before, we’re asked to enter what is essentially a maze. We need to find the elevators and find the apartment. Sounds easy until you have to deliver to luxury buildings that are unnecessarily complicated. We’ll often come across other residents that live in the building. Plus, consider how many residents are using the elevators and hallways and leaving germs behind. The more time we have to spend inside of a building, the more exposed we are to germs. We are being asked to enter a risky environment, and generally for less than $5 while praying that we receive a decent tip (which I define as $5+). 

And for the record, I still haven’t received any PPE from Uber Eats (and the PPE that Postmates sent is an absolute joke). Yes their app encourages drivers to “consider wearing a face cover,” but have they made any attempt to provide us with any? Absolutely not. This alone is corporate greed at its finest. Uber Eats should be ashamed of themselves.

Postmates PPE
The mask that Postmates sent its drivers is an absolute joke. Tissue paper is thicker than this (Photo by Miles Meyer)

Uber Eats Had Me Deliver To A Hospital During The Coronavirus Pandemic

I just accepted a $5 delivery order from Starbucks to an address I haven’t seen before. Generally, we don’t google the addresses of the customer as 99% of the time, we’re delivering to a someone’s house or apartment. It wasn’t until I arrived at the address did I realize that the address was a hospital. I imagine that the worst place for a healthy person to be right now would be inside of a hospital. Unlike medical workers, being inside of a hospital is not a risk that we signed up for. And of course, the customer checked the “leave at door” option with the note “please come to 2nd floor suite, pharmacy department.”

I stood outside of the hospital confused that anyone would ask a delivery driver to go inside a hospital during a pandemic. It was a catch-22: do I call and ask an essential medical worker to meet me outside to prioritize my personal safety or do I take the risk and enter the hospital with minimal PPE and do my job and support the essential medical worker? I chose to honor my commitment, enter the hospital, and deliver the medical worker her twin chai lattes.

I made sure my personal face mask (pictured below) covered everything but my eyes and not to touch anything on the way in or way out. Fortunately, the hospital wasn’t busy (#emptyhospitals anyone?), but I did see two elderly patients (one in the lobby, and one sitting outside of the hospital entrance). I avoided both to the best of my ability.

Coronavirus PPE
I’ve been using my dog’s t-shirt as a mask

After the delivery, I turned off the app and went home to change my clothes and shower. The last thing I need to do is carry hospital germs around with me. Just trying to do the responsible, healthy thing here (unlike Uber Eats). Oh, and doing a load of laundry costs $4, so I risked my health for the grand total of … $1. And the customer still hasn’t tipped yet. 

Here’s my issue with the entire transaction:

Under no circumstances should a delivery person be asked to enter a hospital. We didn’t sign up for this. Most of us are likely underinsured. And none of us are receiving any hazard pay. We’re barely making minimum wage. Any damage or maintenance to our vehicle can ruin us. And until we receive our stimulus checks or unemployment benefits, we don’t have the financial safety net to not work. We have to work. Because we need money. Because we need to eat. And we need to pay rent. And thus, we need to deliver for Uber Eats, the necessary evil.

So what can Uber Eats do?

  • Send high-quality PPE to every delivery driver nationwide. Masks, goggles and gloves would be a great place to start.
  • Offer hazard pay. Add a few dollars to each delivery we make. It will add up over the long run.
  • Encourage all customers to tip via in-app message as delivery drivers are risking their health on behalf of the community. Around 80% of my customers tip, some as low as $1, but most in the $3-4 range.If Uber Eats isn’t going to pay us hazard pay, the difference must be made up somehow. 
  • Ask all restaurants to meet delivery drivers at the door so we don’t have to wait 20+ minutes at the drive through. This eats into our productivity and minimizes our potential hourly earnings. My income would likely double if I could skip drive-through lines.
    • If Uber Eats can expedite pick-ups, then they can give us other pick-ups and deliveries while we’re in the middle of a job. This will also help us maximize earnings. 

What can customers do?

  • Meet your delivery person in front of your building. This will save your delivery driver valuable time so they can immediately get started on the next delivery. The only way we have a chance of making a decent income is to complete trips as quickly as possible.
  • Tip your drivers, especially if you’re still employed and collecting your salary. Think of how much money you’re saving by not being able to go to bars or restaurants. We are out here risking our health to serve our communities. And let’s not forget that delivery apps remains a convenience and a luxury, even during a pandemic. You can always pick up your own food as this is considered an essential task. Instead, you’re asking us to take the risk on your behalf. Tip accordingly.
  • Order from restaurants closer to your home. I’ve gotten orders from McDonald’s that were 8 miles away from the customer’s home when there were other McDonald’s closer by. The faster the delivery, the more money we can make per hour.

My Uber Eats customer service rep who I called immediately after my hospital delivery said he was going to write up a report about my complaint but I told him that as a blogger, I would do it for him. Here you go.

So Dear Dara Khosrowshahi,

You make something like $45 million a year. Must be nice! You’re doing far better than the $10-20/hour your workforce makes. Please read the above and consider making these changes and get back to me. If you can’t pay us more, at least fix the infrastructure so we can earn more. My inbox is always open and I’ll check my e-mail between deliveries. Unless it’s to a hospital because I’m never delivering to one again.

Yours Truly,

Adam, Kind of Essential Worker

***

For those of you who want to deliver for Uber Eats and maximize earnings, here are my top tips.

Follow me on Instagram @adamfrancisco

Subscribe to my YouTube @adamfrancisco