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Food app drivers take more deliveries, but they aren't seeing higher pay

Patrick Cooley, The Columbus Dispatch on

Published in News & Features

Drivers for third-party delivery apps such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub experienced a flood of orders at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as restaurants closed for in-person dining and patrons largely decided to enjoy their meals at home.

Carryout and delivery orders have surged, but the spike in demand for their services hasn’t resulted in a windfall, drivers said.

More orders initially meant higher pay for many, but as more drivers joined the apps, competition increased and customers seemed less willing to sign for a tip, drivers said. Services pay commission based on the cost of an order, but drivers said that many orders aren't worth taking without a gratuity.

DoorDash added 1.9 million new drivers between mid-March and September of last year, a spokesperson said.

“I feel that there was quite an upswing in people signing up for these services,” said Nate Vanderhoof, a 42-year-old Uber Eats driver from Columbus, Ohio. “It’s fairly easy to make money. You go out and drive when you want, stop when you want. There's no set schedule.”

Drivers said they are making just as much money as they did before the pandemic, despite a surge in business.


“It’s been better and worse,” said Alyssa Jones, 26, of Ashville, Ohio. Drivers get “more offers, but no one wants to tip.”

Tips are crucial

Food delivery drivers for third-party delivery apps are independent contractors who get paid per delivery, making their salaries dependent on the volume of deliveries — and tips — rather than hours worked.

“I'm on a couple of the Uber Facebook pages, and that's one of the complaints, that there’s a lot of rideshare drivers,” Vanderhoof said. “They talk about the good old days when there weren't as many drivers, they were a lot busier and they would make more money.”


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