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12 min read

    12 min read

    Delivery drivers have been busier than ever thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. We surveyed over 100 delivery drivers about their experiences delivering for companies like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats. Below, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins spills the beans on all of the delivery driver stories!

    Do delivery drivers really eat out of your to-go bags? What’s the strangest thing a delivery driver has ever delivered? Are delivery drivers experts in knowing the best (or most efficient) places to eat? I’m breaking out all of the interesting facts and stories RSG drivers shared with us on our recent delivery driver survey.

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    Congratulations to delivery driver Rogelio – for his participation in the Delivery Driver Survey, he received a $250 Amazon gift card! If you’d also like to share your opinion and be entered to win, you can take our Presidential Survey here.

    Quick summary of our results:

    • Best app to receive tips? Uber Eats!
    • Are delivery drivers eating your food? 76% said this!
    • 56% of drivers have received non-cash tips – and you won’t believe how weird some of them are
    • You never know who you’re going to meet while delivering: delivery drivers have met famous football players, musicians, and even the oncologist who helped treat one delivery driver’s Mom
    • Thinking about becoming a delivery driver with DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats? McDonalds has to-go packaging down to a science, but avoid Taco Bell or bring your own to-go carriers!
    • Drivers wish more customers knew: they need tips – and it’s not their fault if your order is taking a long time!

    All About Tips

    Earnings for drivers have been pretty good lately, but we all know tips are a big part of that. We wanted to know: on which app do customers tip the best?

    delivery driver stories

    According to our results, drivers report that Uber Eats is the best app to receive the most tips, with DoorDash coming in second by a wide margin.

    Several drivers stated they have received a $50 or more tip. One said, “I got 3 $100 tips within 2 weeks on small fast food orders!”

    Another said their largest tip was $221. One driver claims they get a $50 or more tip about once a week—where do they drive?!

    “Yes. On Easter Sunday 2019, a very lovely young family tipped me on the app and when I arrived at their house with Easter breakfast (in bunny ears no less!) they were at the front door windows waiting for me. Due to COVID they were unable to go have their meal in person at the restaurant. They left a mini easter basket with treats and an envelope containing a card with a $50, thanking me for helping them keep their annual tradition alive.”

    Some said that they received these higher tips while rideshare driving, not delivering:

    “My largest tip was honestly $40 cash tip (I almost cried when they handed it to me) from a couple that likes to visit the husband’s parents for weekly dinners but apparently other drivers tend to cancel on them since both the pick up and drop off spot are in extremely rural areas with bad roadways. I was shocked to hear that they had that happen literally weekly. They really were a delightful, uplifting, and encouraging married couple who I would be honored to drive anywhere, anytime day or night.”

    Ever Eaten Any of the Food Delivered?

    You know you’re wondering: has my delivery driver ever eaten some of my food – even just an errant french fry?

    It’s gotta be tempting to try the food you’re delivering, especially if you haven’t eaten yet or or it’s near lunch/dinner time. Many said no, but some answers may surprise you.

    delivery driver stories

    “Guilty! I once ate a tortilla chip that was about to fall out of the bag! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”

    I’m confused about how this happened, unless it was because the order was cancelled: “One time I ate half a pizza and drank a coke.”

    This makes sense: “The only times I have eaten food I was delivering (or rather intending to deliver) is when I tried to contact the recipient and they were not answering calls or texts, and the order eventually timed out. In one case the person ordering the food forgot they were no longer in the city I was delivering in and did not update their address. I didn’t find out until I called them.”

    “Yes! One time delivering for Uber I had this huge order from a popular sports bar. At least 6 entrees. The address to deliver it to was a small bar. So I show up and ask for the dude’s name ..someone finally remembers the guy and says he headed home. Had too many drinks. So I call him. He doesn’t answer and at that point we’re already at 10-13 minutes of waiting. So I canceled the trip and was in the clear as it had been 10 minutes. It took me 3 or 4 days to eat all of the food and it was delicious! That and I still got paid. No tip haha but 3 to 4 days worth of food was arguably better!”

    Luckily, it looks like most of the drivers have only eaten the food after it was given to them or was unable to be delivered. Many of the drivers surveyed said they never have and never will. One stated they would never do it because they wouldn’t want it done to their food if the tables were turned.

    5 Craziest Non-Money Tips

    If you thought people only tipped in cash, think again. 56% of respondents said they had received a non-cash tip from passengers!

    delivery driver stories

    1) An Expensive Guitar

    This delivery driver shared an incredibly memorable tip he received:

    “My best tip. I drove 5 Hollywood entertainment industry guys around Palm Springs all night. Finally took them to Morongo Casino just after midnight and they said they’d catch another Rideshare when they were done. Got a call at 3:00 am saying they couldn’t get a Rideshare to come get them. I got dressed and made the hour-long drive to pick them up. One of the guys tipped me a $1,200 guitar. Sweet!”

    2) A Bag of Shredded Bills

    This delivery driver technically received a cash tip – of sorts:

    “I had a regular who worked for the Denver Mint. Anytime I saw him, which was quite often, he would toss me a novelty bag filled with shredded bills. He always said, I bet there is at least one $100 bill in there! I miss that guy.”

    3) Toilet Paper

    During COVID, when getting toilet paper was as rare as finding gold, this driver received an invaluable non-cash tip:

    “Toilet paper. She worked for Kimberly-Clark.”

    4) A Haircut

    One driver got a strange, although pretty helpful and very unique, non-cash tip: a hair cut.

    “I got a free haircut on the spot. The rider had brought a big suitcase and folding chair.”

    5) Dog Treats

    This driver received a tasty treat from a passenger – for the pups!

    “A rider who worked for an animal feed manufacturing plant once gave me a bag of dog treats for my pups.”

    Others said they were offered various drugs, food or unique cash such as casino chips in Vegas, or even a bottle of wine.

    Strangest Delivery Orders Ever

    Deliveries can be run of the mill and frankly boring sometimes, but here are some driver delivery experiences that shook things up a bit or at least made the driver wonder why.

    One driver delivered something that I, personally, would never do – but not because of the distance:

    “I delivered a juvenile boa constrictor and about 50 spiders from Beverly Hills to Phoenix. I cleaned the car very carefully afterward.”

    I can relate to the customer in this story, “Drove 45 minutes to deliver some Chinese food because the customer loved this particular restaurant.”

    This sounds like a fun experience:

    “Not with Uber but with Amazon Flex. I was delivering packages in a way out suburb of Philadelphia on a weekend when I stumbled on an outdoor party/BBQ that ‘the address’ was having. I mentioned that we have to keep our ‘social distancing’ as I was wearing a mask and one of the attendees said to the host to give me ‘a to-go soda!’

    I was expecting a Coke, Sprite or a Dr Pepper when a 7 oz Coronita Extra was given to me! The host said to me, enjoy it after you have delivered all of your packages and are sitting at home. Anyway that was very cool! (In more ways than one!)”

    Other fun ones include 6 bottles of water from McDonald’s, 32 Taco Bell fire sauces, 1 pack of cigarettes, a painting of a nude woman, 20 packages of apple slices from McDonald’s, a pregnancy test and condoms, and a raw squid.

    Heartwarming Delivery Stories

    Not every delivery story is about guitars, boa constrictors, or toilet paper. Some delivery drivers encountered some serious ‘good karma’ experiences, too:

    “Ordered food then told to keep it. It was a child doing a “pay it forward” project for school. Also delivered to a semi-truck driver off a highway at night…little sketchy but did it because my bro is a distribution driver – I get it.”

    This story brought me chills: “A routine food order turned out to be to the oncologist that took care of my Mom for a year 12 years ago as my Mom was dying of breast cancer.  I had the opportunity to tell her and her 2 teenage children how much we appreciated everything she did for my Mom.  I especially enjoyed telling her kids what a great person their Mom is.”

    Once in a Lifetime Experiences

    You never know what might happen during your gig job. Here are some experiences drivers shared that I’m sure they’ll remember for years to come.

    I picked up a guy who plays (won’t say name) for the Texans on Super Bowl Sunday in Miami. He and some other players had rented a yacht but after I stopped for him to buy 200 chicken wings, we still got to the yacht basin ahead of the boat and his teammates.

    He asked if I would stay with him and the wings until the others got there and he would pay me. He asked what would be fair. Not sure how much he would have paid but I just told him he could give me what he thought was fair. He gave me a $50.00 bill and I was happy with that.”

    Delivering in Vegas is definitely a unique experience, probably only rivaled by maybe Hollywood or LA!: “I delivered food to a stripper who wanted me to bring the food to the locker room. I ended up watching the free show walking by the stage and also ran into hundreds of naked girls at the world’s largest strip club in Las Vegas. Delivering or driving in Vegas was really fun. I’ve got so many crazy stories to tell.”

    This experience was more common than you’d expect: “Found a new burger joint in town that I had no idea existed. It was a small mom & pop hut buried near a beauty college that makes burgers from fresh ground beef. It smelled so good when I did the Uber eats delivery, that my wife and I went back for dinner of our own — several times!”

    This driver sums up why they continue to deliver, even during COVID: “I have probably already ‘overshared’ some would say, but I have to say that in the short time (only 9 months in now started December 2019, added Eats in March to help income drops) have had so many rewarding, insightful, comedic, heartwarming, all kinds of experiences and rides.

    Some trips honestly with riders, not negative at all just indescribable/rendered me speechless type situations that by the end of the trip I just kind of out loud say ‘did that just happen?’/ ‘wow what just happened’/’omg! I can’t even believe that totally just happened in real life’…again nothing bad but I have had more memorable moments from doing this than anywhere else and there is never an uninteresting, boring, dreadfully long, time-crawling shift/day of what I can’t even consider it work because I feel like it’s just a privilege to have added this new aspect of life to my…well life! Love every minute!!!”

    Tips, Tricks, Frustrations and What Drivers Want

    If you’re a delivery driver or considering signing up for DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats, here are tips, tricks and what drivers want you to know about delivery driving.

    One suggests, “Get a dash cam!!”, and we agree. Find the right dash cam for you with our article Best Dash Cam for Uber & Lyft Drivers (Ultimate Guide).

    Make sure you wear your walking shoes!: “It’s more exercise than you think! I’ve gained 20 pounds since March when I stopped working!”

    Always get a drink holder – and be careful!: “It’s hard to deliver drinks. one or two isn’t an issue but when you get three, four or more, even with the drink holder, it’s a precarious situation.”

    Several drivers shared what they wish delivery companies would acknowledge: “I’ve completed 5208 deliveries – feels like we should have more perks/acknowledgement from DoorDash. Also, we should have the choice on enforcing OUR rights to no contact deliveries or having to wade through multitudes of non-mask wearers every day. I already spent time in the ICU.”

    Drivers wish more customers understood – they need tips!: “If the delivery platforms continue cutting base pay, at least create an expectation that drivers are like servers & bartenders…a “minimum” 20% tip is customary.”

    Customers, don’t be mad at drivers when your food isn’t ready: “The most frustrating problem is that restaurants make me wait 30 minutes or more for the order past pick up time and customers keep calling me about their order not being ready and because of that is greatly affecting my tips.”

    Who has the worst to-go packaging?: “Stop using such poor packaging! Taco Bell is the worst! McDonalds has it down to a science.”

    Do you drive for a delivery service? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever delivered? Share your best and worst experiences below!

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    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.