Uber Eats vs DoorDash for Drivers: Two College Students’ Ethical Expedition
We, Ella and Jack, are two college seniors based in the Bay Area. As aspiring engineers, we took a CS class that focused on technology and ethics. We then became curious about the ethical challenges faced by food deliverers employed by companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash.
In order to add our own perspectives to this topic, we each drive or bike for Uber Eats and DoorDash extensively over the period of two weeks. Ella is the driver, and Jack the biker. We are going to give an ethical score to several categories for each company, which evaluates in general how drivers would feel about their experience, encompassing ease of use, fairness, being respected, etc.
The sign-up is purely online. The sign-up page requires the new driver to enter basic information such as name, phone number, email, and SSN. Then the page requires the applicant to upload a photo ID and a profile photo. The background check takes several days, and after the check finishes, the process will be different for drivers/bikers. For bikers, an activation pack will be mailed to the applicant for starting. The instructions in the activation pack were clear and easy to follow. Drivers, on the other hand, will be required to upload car insurance proof. After it gets approved, they will be ready to go online at any time and take orders.
While the entire process was pretty short and took less than a week, there is hardly any instructions/tips on how to deliver, what to expect, how to earn more, etc. You are pretty much expected to roll your own.
The online sign-up process is similar. DoorDash does not require the applicant to upload a profile photo. The difference is in that Doordash has an option of going to an in-person orientation, which is offered in several offices around the Bay. There are offices in Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Francisco. The orientations for each office spread over the week. Every day there are multiple orientations, including the weekends.
During the orientation, an experienced “Dasher” (the reference to deliverer in Doordash) verifies the applicants’ document, goes through the usage of the App with delivery tips and distributes the “RedCard” which is used for transaction in restaurants to get food. They also have optional branded gears for purchase, such as T-shirts and hats. They also have thermal biker bags that is much cheaper than the ones on Amazon, which is a big plus for bikers. Besides the option of attending the orientation, the option of mailing activation pack was similar to UberEats’ bikers process, where you get a big red thermal bag for food.
When deliverers get pushed for an order, all they can see is the approximate location of the restaurant, but not the location of the eater’s. As a result, it is extremely hard for deliverers to estimate how long it’ll take to finish an order as their distance to the eater is unknown, especially in a bad traffic. Even worse, you have no idea how much you could earn with this order. Deliverers could accept or decline an order within about 15 seconds after it shows up, and that is a very short time window when you are on the run.
When deliverers arrive at the restaurants, sometimes they could just pick up the to-go bag and go, but sometimes they will have to wait up to ten minutes for the restaurants to finish up the order. Deliverers won’t get paid for the time they wait.
The dashers who are closer to the restaurants will have a higher chance to get an order. The App marks out “hot spots” such as town centers to suggest busy places where it is easy to get an order. Once dashers receive an order, they will see the locations of both the restaurant and the destination, expected travel time, the type of delivery (such as whether you need to buy food in line or not) and the minimal earnings for the order. If the route is convenient, they might receive bundled delivery, which is to get food from multiple stores and deliver to multiple destinations in one run. The dashers are free to decline an order, but once the dasher accepts, they are committed to the delivery. When the dashers are at the restaurant, they need to show their identification and order, and they will swipe the RedCard to get the food.
DoorDash has the same problem where dashers sometimes have to wait at the restaurants for more than ten minutes. DoorDash is better in that it gives dashers 90 seconds to decide whether to accept an order or not. The big plus is dashers can see where the eaters will be and how much they could earn, which are quite crucial factors.
It usually takes the driver much longer to deliver an order than to pick it up. Since the destination is not shown when an order is accepted, it is thus difficult for the driver to know when they will be done with an order. This is relevant as many Uber deliverers do this because it is supposedly flexible, which is not quite the case in reality especially for drivers, on whom traffic could take a huge toll. No one wants to be stranded in traffic with a hot pizza you cannot touch. Deliverers also do not know the eater’s name or contact information until they get the food. They also do not have any other information, such as photo or gender, of the eater besides the name. On the eater’s side, they can see the deliverer’s name, car model, plate number and the current location of the driver.
Once the dasher gets the food, they can start off for the delivery. The dasher will see the delivery notes from the customer. During the delivery, the dasher can call and text the customer through the company, so neither party will have the other side’s real phone number. Dashers do not have the customer’s location or photo. They only have the customer’s name, address, delivery notes and contact information. The customer’s app has the dasher’s status (heading to the restaurant, at the restaurant or on the way) and location if the dasher is heading to the customer’s place. The customer cannot see deliverer’s car model or plate number. Once the delivery is done, both sides can rate the other side. DoorDash protects drivers’ information better as it exposes less information about the drivers to the eaters.
Deliverers receive pay plus bonus based on the number of miles they have driven. The time they have been driving is not under consideration. Thus, drivers receive the same pay regardless of the traffic. After the delivery, eaters can choose to add a tip to an order when they are reviewing their orders. No one in our experience tipped as the tipping page was quite inaccessible and this action requires some extra efforts. Deliverers could deliver about two orders in an hour, which would give them around 10–15 dollars per hour.
Dashers will see their actual earnings after delivery. Base earnings only depend on the number of food items and distance traveled. Traffic is not in consideration. The tip system for Doordash is different from UberEats’. Customers enter the tip before delivery, and the tip is claimed to be only for the dasher. The advised amount on the webpage is 10%~20% and 3~5 dollars for usual deliveries. After the delivery, the customers do not have a chance to edit their tips. On average, a dasher can deliver 2~3 orders per hour in a popular area, and depending on the items in the orders, a dasher can earn around 10~20 dollars per hour in our experience.
We give them the same score as we found out that we earned about the same delivering with each.
For eaters, the rating page is hidden down in the app after delivery completion. When they do rate, they will only give a thumb up or down to the deliverers. Out of all of the deliveries Ella has done, she has not received a single rating from any eater.
The good thing about UberEats in comparison to DoorDash is you’ll get your bonus regardless of your acceptance rate of all incoming orders.
A dasher has several ratings. Two primary ratings are the customers’ rating and the delivery completion rate (the ratio of accepted and finished deliveries). If the combination of these two ratings drops below a point, the dasher will be deactivated. Other ratings such as on-time rate do not matter much but do give the dashers a sense of urgency.
A catch in dashers’ pay is that dashers only get the bonus shown on the map below if their acceptance rate of orders is above 80%, which is quite high. After each delivery, the dasher can also give the customer a thumb up or down, the function of which needs future investigation. The rating page is quite obvious for both the dasher and customer. Doordash will send the customer an email urging them to rate once the delivery is finished.
During one of Ella’s trips, she has been yelled at by an eater when she tried to contact the customer by phone. She reported this incident to Uber’s deliverer support immediately but have not heard back since. UberEats also doesn’t seem to care about drivers’ wellbeing in general, unlike DoorDash.
DoorDash seems to care more about its dashers. Emails like this one below comfort us dashers when it’s a bad day. We haven’t run into any support issues with DoorDash, but our experiences as eaters indicate
Overall, we find both UberEats and DoorDash have a lot of space for improvement. However, if you are going to choose to deliver with one of them today, we would go with DoorDash because our experience with it has been more ethically positive in general.