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Reddit has been flooded with posts of DoorDashers begging customers for tips, highlighting the bleak economics of working for a gig work platform. There have been dozens of posts in recent weeks of drivers saying they will cancel orders if customers don't add additional tips and of people asking for cash tips on top of any tips added within the app.One person posted on Reddit, for example, that their Dasher had asked them to add a tip since their order was delayed by the restaurant. The Dasher then began spamming the user with question marks.
“When the first message popped up, I was honestly just shocked at the audacity of asking for an extra tip,” the user wrote in the post. “But then the extra messages rolled in and I started getting really peeved with this dude.”Another post shows a Dasher asking for a higher tip, and then saying they would “go ahead and cancel this order if not.” A Doordash spokesperson said that, “While nothing in our guidelines explicitly prohibits Dashers from asking a customer for a tip, we have a zero tolerance policy for harassment by any member of our community on the DoorDash platform. This includes instances where Dashers harass customers for a tip.” Two full-time Dashers who Motherboard spoke to also agreed that they don't ask customers for extra tips. Both Dashers requested to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns for speaking out about company pay. “They shouldn’t be doing that in the first place,” said one Dasher from Maryland about other drivers harassing customers for tips. “They accepted that job knowing that they'd be getting at least X amount of dollars and then they have the audacity to ask the customer, ‘Oh I know you just overpaid for a bunch of food and a delivery fee that I'm not seeing. And you graciously gave me a tip, but can you please give me more?’”But DoorDash, in practice, is an entirely tip-based platform. The driver from Maryland said that working for DoorDash was similar to working as a server in a restaurant—where workers are almost entirely reliant on tips.
“[Servers] get paid $2, $3 an hour and they rely on tips. This is the same type of job, except you're serving with your car, and it's a lot more risky,” they said. “And I don't think people really realize that. You're working for tips.”A second driver said that, even though they worked 40 or more hours per week, most of their income came from tips. “I work a ridiculous amount of hours because that's what my situation currently demands of me,” the second driver said. “From DoorDash alone, I would say I make anywhere from $150 to $200 a day, and about two-thirds of that is tips.” The company told Motherboard in a statement that tipping was one of three pay components for Dashers. A second component is the base pay for each order, which is “DoorDash’s base contribution for each order and depends on the estimated time, distance, and desirability of the order,” the spokesperson said. The third component is any promotions for peak hours or holiday work. “For each order the base pay starts out at $2 to $3, regardless of mileage,” the second Dasher told Motherboard. “You could easily scroll through the subreddit and see a lot of ridiculous orders that will say $2 to $6 for 10 miles or more.” “The majority [of my income] is tips,” said the Maryland driver. “The other week, I had a good week. I brought in $1,000. DoorDash was $326, customer tips [were] $643. But that doesn’t account for gas, or miles. I put around 30,000 miles on my car since October.”
Restaurants also generally require their servers to rely on tips. The federal minimum cash wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. But servers, at minimum, have the advantage of working for a specific business. They have a relationship with their employer, who can handle any difficult situations with dissatisfied customers. DoorDash fundamentally uses a model that puts the delivery person and the customer in direct contact at the customer’s house, shifting the risk of a potentially volatile situation—drivers asking customers for bigger tips, for example, or customers blaming drivers for incorrect orders out of their control—onto both of those parties, instead of through a business intermediary. The delivery driver directly relies on the customer for their basic income, which creates an unusual power balance. Although DoorDash increases the base pay for longer mileage, Dashers in more rural areas also have to compensate for gas prices.“It’s $40 out of whatever I make that day,” said the second driver. “It would be nice if DoorDash raised the base pay just to help compensate for the cost of gas.”The DoorDash spokesperson said that most of the workers delivered part-time to earn “supplemental income.” But for drivers who make DoorDash their full-time job, customer tips is how they earn their living, because DoorDash does not pay them much on its own. “I own two restaurants that both have DoorDash,” wrote one Reddit user. “It’s ridiculous that you guys are mad at customers for not giving you 10 dollars out of their pocket to drive a cheese burger and a soda to their house when they are already being over charged by your employer for the service being provided.”“I'm thankful to the customers I deliver to because they are the reason I'm able to do everything I'm able to do,” the second driver said. “If people didn't tip, I wouldn't be able to do this.” In 2022, DoorDash was worth $6.58 billion.