When Wag! doesn’t pay dog walkers on time
Deciding whether to become a professional dog walker for Wag! or Rover
Update: At 12:34 p.m. CST today, Wag! did finally send a (vague) email stating that they were working on the issue. By 7:10 p.m. CST, a follow-up email (and a phone call from a supervisor) confirmed all payments were processed. Although the explanation for the Nov. 8 payment delay came down to “the tech team fixed it, but they don’t tell us why,” Wag! walkers should receive all payments by Tues., Nov. 12, due to the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend. There will also be a “Nov 8th Delayed Payment Apology Credit” for 5 percent of the Nov. 8 total credited on Fri., Nov. 15.
I knew how the call was going to go as soon as I picked up my smartphone to call Wag! My checking account was missing its usual Friday deposit from the dog walking company. And in Wag!’s usual lack of empathy for people’s bills, the company didn’t send one email, text message or Wag! app alert to let users know it was aware of the payment problem.
Instead the app just quietly says “On its way” when you click on the “Earnings” tab. Two phone calls to their customer service line left me completely convinced that the customer service representatives were neither trained nor concerned about handling this issue. The responses I received were this: “The supervisors are going to tell you the same thing I did” and “We are aware of the issue” and “We don’t know.”
Can these representatives or the supervisors tell Wag! walkers how the delay happened? No. Can they tell Wag! walkers whether it will happen again? No. Can they even confirm that payment will be sent on Saturday, as the app now specifies? No, they’re not sure of that either. But for regular Wag! dog walkers, this is not much of a surprise.
Earlier this summer, the dog walking company switched its payment account from Payable to Stripe, although there never really was a clear understanding of why the switch happened. This business decision not only left dog walkers waiting about two weeks to get paid in full — without any regard to the dog walkers’ expenses — but it also made Wag! vulnerable to Wag! scammers who claimed that the company was using Zelle and Cash App instead.
So why do Wag! dog walkers stay with the company?
There are definitely perks of working for dog walking companies such as Wag! (and Rover too). One of the biggest ones for me initially was that my condo association did not allow pets when I first bought the place. I could not convince my parents to get a third dog (our first two have passed on), so the Uber/Lyft version of dog walking made absolute sense. If I couldn’t get a dog of my own, why not enjoy on-demand dog walking? Initially it was supposed to be a hobby that I would do once a week and hopefully last me longer than my short stint (100 total rides) as an Uber/Lyft driver.
Recommended Read: “Highs and lows of being an Uber and Lyft driver”
But 313 completed dog walks and 52 dogs later, this clearly is not a hobby for me. It’s now a second job, and sometimes I care for dogs more than I do my full-time job as a journalist/editor. I have been asked on multiple occasions why I don’t just start my own dog walking business outside of Wag! and Rover, and one client I found on my own preferred paying me directly through PayPal and skipping these two companies altogether. Initially I just didn’t want to put the work into researching the local regulations and Illinois licensing procedures. However, considering clients I have found on my own are recommending me outside of Rover and Wag!, I’m now leaning in that direction.
In less than a week, I was walking for Wag! My first job with Rover took five months.
Why should dog walkers try Wag! or Rover first?
Dog walking sites such as Rover allow you to create a profile showcasing your expertise with dogs (and cats), along with photographs, past jobs and a little about yourself. Unfortunately, the dog walkers do not get to prove themselves first in the way that Wag’s on-demand-walker business motto does. With Wag!, someone who is inexperienced in dog walking can build up clientele. After passing their initial background check, taking the collar and harness test, providing previous dog experience and a minimal assessment for dealing with difficult dogs, you’re in. Rover operates more like a traditional job interview in Corporate America. Dog owners sift through “resumes” (i.e. your dog profile) and read previous reviews to decide whether they want to give you a shot.
In less than a week, I was walking for Wag! My first job with Rover took five months. But that one couple who gave me a shot on Rover opened the floodgates. For the month of August, I lived in my own home for a total of nine days. And sometimes crossover jobs happen — I completed a dogsitting job via Wag! and ended up getting hired for a Rover job about five houses down. The latter client recognized my Wag! dog on my Rover profile. So the networking between the two apps and the clientele boost are worth the $25 background check for either dog walking app.
Neither Rover nor Wag dog walking sites offer medical benefits and insurance should there be property damage to your belongings or you get bitten.
What are the drawbacks of working with Wag! and Rover?
The easiest answer is issues like the one that’s happening right now: payment complications. If you have your own dog walking clients, you’re not worried about a third-party site (Stripe) paying you. You don’t have to deal with customer service representatives blaming Stripe for Wag! not making payments on time.
If you’re working directly with clients, there is also no need to take a 20 percent pay cut that Wag! and Rover make for simply existing.
You don’t spend time debating with Rover about why their mobile app won’t allow you to modify dog walk/dog caring assignments to dog sittings, without canceling the entire job and hoping the client will rehire you while (s)he waits on a refund. Debating with Rover about the $20-off promo code is a nonexistent issue on your own. If you’re working directly with clients, there is also no need to take a 20 percent pay cut that Wag! and Rover make for simply existing. Wag! and Rover don’t pick up behind the dogs. The sites don’t pet or care for the dogs. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night to walk early bird dogs or dogs that have fallen ill. But they get paid for you doing so.
There are also health concerns. Neither Rover nor Wag dog walking sites offer medical benefits and insurance should there be property damage to your belongings or you get bitten by the dog(s). But I can play devil’s advocate here and say that if you’re a dog owner yourself, you risk dealing with a dog biting you. (I’ve never been bitten by my own dogs or the 52 dogs I’ve walked/cared for, but I’m fully aware it could happen.) I would strongly advise every dog walker to invest in health insurance regardless. Even a dog that pulls can lead to you tumbling to the ground. It happens. Protect your own body before you consider walking any dog.
How do I know if dog walking is for me?
The short answer is you don’t. You’ve got to at least try it to see if you like it. Although I am leaning far more in the direction of just creating my own dog walking business, there’s a pretty significant chance that I will continue to walk at least a handful of dogs on Wag! Why? I love 49 out of 52 of those dogs, and I can identify every single dog by name off the top of my head. I know their highs and lows, wacky quirks, and the things that make me smile about them most. I bore people with endless funny dog stories at Toastmasters and Do Not Submit. I’m a dog lover to my core.
While the odds of getting rich off of sites like Rover or Wag! are slim, if you love dogs, it’s worth it for that alone. Walk on, walkers, walk on!