Five things food delivery drivers wish customers knew

OK before we jump in, let me express my gratitude to all the great customers I've encountered over the past few years.

I've actually never had an incident that could be considered a horror story but after 2,000+ deliveries of my own across DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub and Instacart and talking to my fellow gig economists on those platforms, I've noticed recurring issues that if remedied could make the delivery process smoother. 

Please bear in mind that not all of those may apply to you but I know the delivery instruction issue applies to many, even my favorite repeat customers. I know my tone is a little harsh but I hope the underlying humorous tone shines through. I'm German after all so there is bound to be some yelling.

Without further ado, here are the five things deliver drivers wish you knew.

1. Your low/no tip order does not take priority

DoorDash no tip order humorous picture of pennies in a cart

OK, this is one of those areas that I don't really get caught up in because I stay away from low/no tip orders in general but I do see them pop up frequently and they prevent many of us from making more money, especially on DoorDash since it has a Top Dasher program that essentially forces deliver drivers into taking those orders, thereby perpetuating the cycle of crappy orders.

It's mind-boggling to see how many people don't tip during bad weather. My area recently had a blizzard and there were hundreds of no tip orders on DoorDash.

Really? You don't want to go out in a blizzard and get your Chick-fil-A? Well, neither do I if I have to risk my life for the $2.75 DoorDash will pay me. 

Yes, we see how much you tip and I'll show you what that looks like on my end in just a minute.

I mean I get it, the budget is tight but spending money on restaurant-prepared meals and having them delivered isn’t exactly the budget-friendly route so I do assume you have a couple of bucks to spare so I can wait for your food at the restaurant, put it in my car and deliver it to your front step. I make anything from $2-$4 an order without tip so if you think I’ll drive 10 miles for that, you’re mistaken.

What the delivery apps don't tell you is that you are essentially responsible for covering the mileage your food will travel (the standard rate is 56 cents per mile). Yes, some of the apps will add a buck here or there for mileage but if you don't add a decent tip, you're most likely not going to get your order or the food will be cold and soggy.

I have created a guide to tipping your food delivery driver that goes into more detail, here. Or tipping your Instacart Shopper, here.

Distance matters too

Just because you can order from a restaurant that's 14 miles away doesn't mean you don't have to cover the extra cost. It used to be that places like Domino's only delivered within a certain radius but since the rise of delivery apps like DoorDash, UberEats and Grubhub, this has now been extended to 10+ miles.

Someone has to cover the gas the delivery driver has to travel and that someone is you because it certainly isn't the delivery apps. I selected small mileage orders as examples but as you can imagine there are orders with 10+ miles that are like this and that's just rude on the customer's part.

Small DoorDash order
Small UberEats order

As I said, most of us won’t touch a no tip order but because many will, delivery apps won't have to change their pay structure.

These aren’t just one-off, especially on DoorDash and UberEats, I often have to decline 5-10 of these orders before I get a decent one. 

Grubhub is slightly better as they do pay a little bit more to consider mileage.

2. We don't know where you live

Food delivery driver map

Personally, I'm not a cab driver in London who has to memorize the entire city before going on their first drive. I rely on Google Maps and sometimes Apple Maps and whatever atrocity Uber Maps is to get me to your place, but many condo complexes don’t show up correctly. Which you probably know since you got lost going to your place when you first moved there.

Therefore, if you live in a place you know GPS doesn’t recognize, please take five seconds to put that in the delivery instructions. Many condo complexes have names so please just put the name and maybe which way to turn since your number won’t match what the GPS has in mind.

I live in a condo complex like that and I see delivery drivers drive in circles all the time. I once had a very polite but flustered delivery driver come up to me because she had been driving around in a circle and I pointed her in the right direction.

She was incredibly grateful. This could have been avoided if customers had instructions. I leave step by step instructions including the name of the condo complex so my food gets to me in good shape. Yes, I'm a customer too!

I always assume people are like me and want their food as quickly as possible and in edible condition but after thousands of orders, I have concluded that food is secondary only to watching delivery people drive around in circles. I get it, you’ve reached the end of Netflix.

You may know where you live but I don’t so I’m already on the clock to deliver on time and accurately so please help me out by taking 5 seconds out of your life to leave delivery instructions. You’re already outsourcing every part of your meal so please make it an easy process. I need to move on to the next order so I can pay my bills. Plus I’m on the hook for timely delivery.

This goes for businesses that are on a busy strip. Please just put the name of the business, not the address. This happens to me all the time. It says 1832 XYZ Turnpike and there is no way to see the address on this 10-mile strip of restaurants and businesses, so please, in addition to the actual address, just put in xyz healthcare or whatever the business is in the delivery notes. This quite literally saves you and me minutes.

I usually know exactly where a business is by the name of it but if you just put the address without the name of the business, I risk driving around for longer than we both want, often having to wait until I can make a U-turn. I often look at street view before I start driving  if I know it’ll be hard to find but that’s also not always super accurate so just help me out, will ya?!

3. Please show up if you selected meet at door or hand it to me

If I finally find your place, I expect you to be there if you selected meet at door or hand it to me. I literally have a tracker on me that shows you my every turn prior to my arrival (which you know because you’re probably gleefully watching me drive in circles) so if you choose meet at door or hand it to me and you’re not there, you get the doorbell because meet at door means you’re at the door or I’ll alert you that I’m at the door.

If that wakes you up from a cozy slumber, that’s too bad because you’re I’m just following your instructions. If you don’t want me to ring the bell if you choose meet at door or hand it to me depending on which app you used, just leave a note saying text when here don’t ring bell, text. Again, all of this takes less than 10 seconds on your end.

If you know you need to nap or will be on a call, just choose leave at door. That way I’m off the hook and you can let your food sit outside as long as you want without cutting into my time.

Make sure your delivery instructions match - it's so annoying when they don't

DoorDash delivery instructions

If you selected "hand it to me" or "meet at door", don't leave a note saying leave at door, there is an option for that on the apps which is contactless delivery that reads "leave at door".

It's incredibly annoying when customers don't take the time to change this. You get to rate us and sometimes you decide to leave a bad rating when things don't go as instructed... and often your instructions simply suck.

When you select "leave at door", I'm able to take a picture to confirm I delivered your food, which is insurance in case you say otherwise.

When you select leave at door (i.e. contactless delivery), you can add additional instructions saying "leave at door but ring bell" or "don't ring bell" but it's important that you don't select an in person delivery if you just want me to leave the food at the door.

That's why there is the leave at door option across platforms.

I encounter many of these and it's just so strange. You took the time to leave a note saying "Contactless Delivery" instead of changing it to "Leave at door"... why though?

4. Turn on the lights, extra bright please

This is a big one for those of us who go out at night (or anyone going out past 4PM in the winter time).

If you don’t have a mailbox with reflective numbers, please have the courtesy to leave a light on at the front door so I can see your house number.

Again, every minute I drive around, I lose money and your food gets soggier and soggier.

Plus, it’s just common courtesy. I’m not a FedEx driver who might show up at random times, you specifically ordered food and were given a relatively exact time frame so my arrival should not be a Gene Parmesan-like surprise.

5. Don't let the dogs out

As someone who got nipped in the back of my knee by a customer’s dog delivering a DoorDash order and subsequently researching if this was a common occurrence, I found out that it is.

Unfortunately, there are also stories about delivery drivers accidentally running over customer’s animals so for your pet’s sake and mine, please bring in your pet if you’re expecting a delivery.

I know your Fido is the best Fido in the world and wouldn't harm a fly but I also smell like food and don't want to do paperwork because your Fido decided to jump for your Arby's order but instead got my hand.

That's all I got! But one more thing...

I know as customers who order from these apps (myself included) we've also had some atrocious experiences with food delivery drivers. I have a special page where you can submit your horror story from either a delivery driver or customer perspective. I limit experiences to DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub and Instacart since that's what my site focuses on.

Your story will be visible to others on the page so make it a good one! Go to the bottom of the page here to submit.

Again, this page is just for reference based on my relatively extensive experience across delivery apps. I think some of these also apply to Amazon delivery drivers and your run of the mill mail person!

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