Why some DoorDash workers aren't wild about delivery app's job swap idea

San Francisco-based delivery company DoorDash (DASH) announced this week that it will require all employees to deliver at least one order each month under its reinstated WeDash program, beginning in 2022.

However, the responses have been mixed at best from both corporate workers, and DoorDash drivers themselves.

The mandatory initiative — which includes workers at all levels and even the CEO — was first launched back in 2013, but was “paused for a bit” due to the pandemic. WeDash is partly designed to foster better appreciation for customers and food couriers, who have been under extreme pressure since COVID-19 reshaped the economy.

“Our WeDash program powers our employees by bringing them directly to the heart of the consumer, merchant, and Dasher,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Employees unable to participate can work in a chat support for customers, or with merchants instead. The delivery app’s goal is to allow employees to understand its customers, “be an owner and in touch” with its three-sided marketplace and “take pride” in seeing the operation first hand.

Meanwhile, some employees – including those in DoorDash’s corporate offices– aren’t fond of the idea. On Blind, an anonymous social media platform for white- collar professionals, one well-paid engineer expressed his frustration with the program’s return.

“I didn't sign up for this, there was nothing in the offer letter/job description about this," read the post with over 1,800 comments. A few other comments in the thread suggested that some sided with the company’s value of showing empathy for the delivery driver.

Despite the criticism, DoorDash will continue its plans to bring back the program. “The sentiment of the employee on Blind is not a reflection of the employee base at large. This is a valued program we’ve had since the company’s inception,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in a statement.

Reflective of the internal debate within DoorDash, the delivery drivers themselves have had mixed reactions to the idea.

“It is a good idea and let them do it for free. Matter of fact, cut their salary back and have them go out there and do those orders for free, because that's exactly where we're at,” Veronica Barnes, a DoorDash driver in Kansas City, MO, told Yahoo Finance in an interview.

The pandemic sparked a takeout and delivery boom, with restaurants eager to stay afloat with diners stuck at home. However, the global health crisis also exposed tough working conditions for gig workers, who at times have been forced to make deliveries in unsafe weather conditions.

Many sectors of the service economy are facing dire labor shortages, part of what's been called “the Great Resignation.” It's helped give remaining workers leverage to demand better pay and company culture.

But many gig-economy companies, especially delivery services, are workers with little to no power to negotiate. And some are lashing out at users themselves, who have become accustomed to the instant gratification that technology provies.

"America's becoming real lazy. Like I'm not understanding it, but I can't be a slave to the system. I can't afford it,” Barnes said.

Earlier this year, DoorDash drivers in California protested outside the home of CEO Tony Xu demanding for better pay and tip transparency. The protest underscores the issue around the pay gap between executives, and working class contractors whose livelihoods depend on these service apps.

“You sitting up there in your nice suit all pretty don't know what ‘cold’ is, you don't know what an address ‘unavailable’ is, you don't know what the third floor with a 24 case of water is,” Barnes added.

A good idea 'on paper'

A DoorDash delivery person is pictured on the day they hold their IPO in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A DoorDash delivery person is pictured on the day they hold their IPO in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (Carlo Allegri / reuters)

But other Dashers see "both sides" to the company’s reinstated initiative like former DoorDash delivery driver Stephen Reynolds, who worked frequently from July 2020 to April 2021.

“On paper, it's a great idea," Reynolds told Yahoo Finance.

"It shows that their employees are going to have to take initiative, but I think the practicality of it is when you put all their employees in this position to become Dashers, that they're only expected to do it once a month,” which doesn’t provide the full experience in his eyes, he added.

Reynolds believes the limited run isn't a realistic portrayal the full Dasher experience, who aren't “just doing one delivery, you're kind of getting into the flow, you're doing multiple deliveries," he explained. A once a month tour of duty won't let DoorDash employees "really get a grasp of how the whole process works.”

To that point, Sameer Sharma, a veteran DoorDash driver from Haywood, California, found some humor in the viral Blind post.

“I was laughing my head off at them that the one person could not do one delivery, but [is] getting half million wages a year. It's a very petty thing. They should do more than one delivery I believe,” Sharma said in a phone interview with Yahoo Finance.

“They might be lucky and get that one order and be okay, but what about all the other orders that we have to struggle [with] on a daily basis where we have to wait maybe half an hour [to] 45 minutes at a restaurant. We don't get any extra for waiting, ” Sharma added.

It's not reasonable anymore. Sit and wait for my food for a whole hour, I got $2.50 for you, period.Veronica Barnes, DoorDash driver

Yet Reynolds, who acknowledged that all employees weren't hired to do deliveries, suggested that a minimum of 15 deliveries day would "really make it worth your time.” On a typical day, he makes anywhere from $80 to $100 dollars in tips — on top of the pay which could be around upwards of $200 “if you had a really good day.”

But sometimes, “a good day” is out of the Dasher’s hands, he added.

The best experience is “when you're working and everything's running smoothly…. you're not really waiting on restaurants… you're finding the addresses…there's some days where they're not smooth and everything takes a lot longer and you don't make as much money as you want to," Reynolds explained.

According to DoorDash, base pay is calculated based on estimated time, distance, and desirability of an order.

The typical Dasher drives less than 4 hours a week and earns an average of $25 per an hour — including 100% of tips, with 90% of all Dashers delivering under 10 hours a week, according to the delivery service company.

Dashers can expect to earn a base pay between $2 to $10 plus. While some drivers have complained about a lack of transparency in tipping, DoorDash insists couriers get 100% of all customer tips.

Still, some drivers have complained about pay being on the lower end, or low-priced orders that simply aren't worth the wait.

“It's not reasonable anymore. Sit and wait for my food for a whole hour, I got $2.50 for you, period,” Barnes said.

“I can't afford it. I'll screenshot it and decline it. This order is too small, $2.50. Like really – gas is $2.89 and then if you go to California, gas is more than that,” she added.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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