ChowNow Removes Tips from Postmates Couriers
[Update: You can Postmates Fleet Agreement here if you have any issues with this.]
I have recently started to deliver on Postmates. I moved to Seattle but I haven’t transferred over my vehicle plates to Washington State yet so I can’t work on Lyft or Uber. As I was looking for something else to do in the mean time, I found deliveries. There are many rideshare drivers who have tried out deliveries, so I am a bit behind the curve in trying it out. I’ll be posting a bit more about Postmates in the coming weeks, but I wanted to write about a rising issue among Postmates Couriers.
Deliveries offer a few advantages to rideshare:
- Less restrictions on vehicle: You can use almost any vehicle you want. You can even use a rental car but you may not be covered insurance-wise if you get into an accident during a delivery. As I still have Massachusetts plates, this was perfect for me.
- You don’t even need a car: in some cities, they have a bicycle option. In many other places, you can use a scooter or motorcycle. In Seattle, I was able to walk around and deliver food (and I netted $20 for the hour I spent walking).
- Much Faster Onboarding – I was able to signup for Postmates at 6:30am local time and attend an onboarding session at 11:30am the same day. I accepted my first job at around 12:15pm. You can’t do that with rideshare (or even Uber Delivery for that matter).
Tips are Crucial to Couriers
I have been delivering for a few weeks now and have realized that tips make up a major portion of a courier’s income. The base pay for jobs is usually very small, about $5 per delivery. I have been averaging about two deliveries an hour so that is $10/hr take home. I had a certain strategy so I wasn’t really driving all that much, but $10/hr is still pretty bad.
Once the tips started rolling in, I started to average $10 per delivery, so now I’m up to $20 an hour. About 50% of my earnings are from tips and customers tend to tip because we deliver it right to your door. I only drive during peak dinner hours during the week so there is often less traffic, more parking, and a ton of demand. I usually don’t have to wait long at all for a request. When I get rolling, I have orders almost back to back. I often have an early dinner with my wife and go out and deliver for a few hours at night. I normally stop when I don’t have another order right after the previous one. $20 an hour for driving a few miles an hour is pretty good. I estimate I now drive about 10 miles an hour delivering, much better than rideshare where I tend to average about 20-30 miles for just a bit more in pay.
Whats the issue with ChowNow?
ChowNow announced their partnership with Postmates last month. However, there have been isolated reports on the Facebook group that couriers are noticing $0 tip right after delivery. One Postmates Courier in Atlanta noticed that on the a ChowNow order, it says that the tips go directly to the restaurant and not the courier. Another courier had talked with their Postmates city manager and had confirmed that tips go directly to the restaurant.
How Can You Tell a ChowNow Order?
The most common observation of a ChowNow order is that the restaurant name will be displayed differently. Here are a few combinations that some couriers have noticed:
- Restaurant name will be in BOLD
- Restaurant name will include street address or location
All ChowNow orders have the orders placed already with the restaurant. To ensure that it is not ChowNow, accept jobs that require you to put in the order yourself. Of course, these types of jobs take longer, but it may be worth your time since now you will get a tip. You can also avoid jobs that are displayed like the ones above.
Once you accept the job, you can see that it is ChowNow under order details. It will say “ChowNow” and then the order number next to it. You won’t be able to see this until you accept the job though.
I have also started a list of restaurants that use ChowNow. Take a look at the below link:
Why Would ChowNow Do This?
I can see their point of view in deliveries. Couriers are merely picking up orders and delivering them so why should they get a tip? My response is that couriers are providing a service. When I order takeout, I don’t normally leave a tip for the restaurant because I tip for the service I receive in the restaurant, like the waiter taking my order, the server bringing me the food, the bus boys cleaning the plate and utensils I ate on, and the waiters cleaning my table and plates. When I order takeout, much of that doesn’t happen. I often leave either the change or round up to the nearest dollar or two when I order takeout. I try to tip about 5% when I order take out.
Couriers in this case is providing a major service in the food delivery process. We are coming to the restaurant and then delivering it to the customer’s door. Why wouldn’t couriers get a tip for providing that service? If the restaurant wants the tip to cover the expense of takeout or the chef’s labor in cooking the food, they should charge an additional fee for takeout. Also, the cost of the food should cover the only service in the process, which is the chef preparing the food. Some restaurants charge extra for takeout because now they have to provide a takeout container, utensils and a bag for the order. It is easy for the restaurant to add a service charge for takeout, but it is not so easy for couriers to ask for a tip. As a Postmates courier, we are encouraged not to ask for at tip as it can ruin the Postmates experience. However, Chownow has effectively removed any possibility of us getting a tip since many customers often tip with the application, and is encouraged by Postmates to do so.
Many Postmates customers know that they can tip their couriers with the app. However, now the tip from these orders go to the restaurant and not the couriers. I expect many people to continue tipping with the app, not knowing that none of it goes to the couriers on ChowNow orders.
- Tips from ChowNow Orders on Postmates go directly to the restaurant
- ChowNow order is that the restaurant name will be displayed differently. The restaurant name will either be in BOLD or will include street address or location
- ChowNow Orders will already be placed with the restaurant. To completely avoid it, only deliver orders you need to go in and place the order (much more hassle though)
For now, I would be very watchful for orders that look like ChowNow Orders. In some markets, couriers are noticing that all orders from a certain restaurant are ChowNow orders. Either use the method above in determining which orders are ChowNow, or be watchful of new restaurant deliveries are coming from.
I am hoping that Postmates will eventually create a workflow that allows customers to tip the restaurant and couriers separately. It is not fair that 100% of the tips go to the restaurant. The best thing for couriers to do is to try to avoid ChowNow orders, complain to customer service about this issue, or to tell your customer that we can’t get tips from these orders.
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