DoorDash introduces new safety features/fewer notifications

This week wasn’t your standard news week in the gig business. DoorDash and Lyft have announced changes to the tech sides of their platforms, and delivery companies can now charge San Francisco restaurants more. Keep reading for the full scoop in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar.

DoorDash introduces new safety features for riders, including reduced notifications (TechCrunch)

Summary: Delivery company DoorDash is introducing new features for riders, including reduced notifications, a request for customers to not text them while they are on a trip and messaging promoting one-tap replies.

DoorDash is updating its iOS app (for iOS 15 or above) to reduce notifications sent to delivery partners while they are on the way. They will only get some notifications like a change to the delivery address, messages from their customer or if an order has been reassigned after being timed out during a trip. Other notifications will be muted and delivery partners can only see them when they indicate they have reached their destination.

The company is rolling out this feature to all riders across the globe using iPhones with plans to extend it to Android in the coming months….

My Take: I just want to make one quick note before diving in. I think it would be more accurate to say “drivers” or “dashers” in place of “riders” throughout the article and headline. That being said, these sound like great changes for drivers overall.

Dashers have complained for a while about how often they have to touch their phones and respond to customers or notifications while on the job. While driving, this is dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible. Obviously, they would need to click accept or decline as a ping comes through, but drivers have complained about having to go through 4 or 5 different pop-up windows to fully decline a request.

I also like that they will send all Dashers through a demo delivery as part of the signup process so they know what to expect before accepting their first order. I know as a first-time Uber driver, I didn’t know anything about anything…I ended up not starting the trip properly. I just asked the person where they were going and plugged the address into my navigation app and went from there. I was such a newbie, but that’s similar to what a lot of others might experience. Giving any insight into what your experience will look like before you have to actively do it on your own is always a good thing in my book.

I think a lot of Dashers will also appreciate the ability to give single-tap responses to customers instead of having to juggle holding a conversation with customers while trying to complete the order.

Inside Lyft’s years-long effort to give its drivers better maps (Fast Company

Summary: The overwhelming bulk of mapping services have been built with the average consumer in mind: Plug in a destination and instantly get a route, with the option to stop at a Starbucks on the way.

But the services have been less than perfect for ride-share drivers, who pick up several riders per day and sometimes multiple people along routes. Of course, dealing with dozens of people per day leaves loads of room for confusion for all parties involved: Where should the rider stand to get picked up? What is the best way to get around construction?

It’s a problem Lyft has been working to solve for years: determining what mapping functions would most help drivers focus on road signals, and in the process make it easier for riders to get picked up. And now that it’s releasing those revamped maps to a growing number of people in the coming months, the world will get a better glimpse at what next-generation ride-share mapping looks like.

My Take: Everyone has their favorite navigation app. Everyone. Even those not in the rideshare industry. I love Waze. My parents swear by Google Maps. I remember the good old days of MapQuest and printing off directions. We’ve come a long way. But yes, I agree, there is always room for improvement.

For general driving, Google Maps and Waze and any other standard navigation is going to suit you just fine. But ridesharing is its own beast. In cities with many one-ways, navigation can be a bit difficult, and throwing a passenger into the mix makes it a mixed bag. Should they stand on one side of the street versus the other? On standard streets, should the navigation put you where you’ll be on the “correct” side of the street every time to pick up your passenger? I mean, that would be great.

I know there were several times where I didn’t have a safe place to make a U-turn to get myself corrected and the passenger might wonder where their Uber/Lyft is going if they decide to go around the block to better position themselves. Also, it could be dangerous for the passenger to cross the street, depending on traffic, crosswalks, etc.

But I feel like it would be almost on the edge of a miracle if there were a navigation app or platform that could take care of those kinds of issues.

DoorDash, Uber Eats can now charge SF restaurants more for delivery (SFGate)

Summary: The 15% commission cap that went into effect last year to limit the fees San Francisco restaurants pay to delivery app companies has ended.

As of Jan. 31, food delivery companies such as San Francisco’s DoorDash and Uber Eats can now charge restaurants up to 30% commission — nearly double the 15% commission cap instituted last year. Restaurateurs aren’t too happy with this decision, and many feel handcuffed to these tech companies for delivery service options in San Francisco.

“The ugly truth is you do have to partner with these delivery services,” said Jessie Barker, owner of Media Noche, a fast-casual Cuban restaurant in the Mission. “It’s necessary in order to go along with the evolving face of restaurants in San Francisco.”…

My Take: Wow. Doubling the commission cap?! That’s got to be making some restaurants reconsider their partnership with these food delivery platforms. While I’m sure it’s super convenient and good for businesses to utilize these well-known companies, that has to be hurting their bottom line.

What a tough decision. I imagine the business owners are feeling backed into a corner. They could either continue offering these services at a steep cost or losing a large chunk of business. But also, customers are very sensitive to rising prices, so I also imagine it would be difficult to raise prices to offset the commission fees.

Obviously, each experience is different; some may be able to afford these fees and swallow the difference with relative ease. I just fear for the smaller, independently-owned businesses trying to stay relevant.

Who Is Gary Levin? Everything We Know About Missing Lyft Driver (Newsweek

Summary: Florida police are continuing to search for Gary Levin, a 74-year-old Lyft driver, who was last seen on January 30.

On Thursday police recovered Levin’s red 2022 Kia Stinger, which was being driven by Matthew Scott Flores, a 35-year-old who was being sought in connection with an unrelated murder.

Following a chase through a number of North Carolina counties, Flores was arrested, then taken to a local hospital as officers suspected he was under the influence of drugs….

My Take: Just another instance of “what is the world coming to?” While this article indicates the driver is still missing, it broke later this week that he was found dead.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand situations like this. It’s so pointless and painful to think about. This person was mostly retired and just doing Lyft to earn some money and keep his life entertaining.

My heart goes out to his family.

DoorDash’s new effort to continue to support Dashers with gas prices

Summary: During the summer, gig platforms such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others added a gas stipend or other gas saving measures to help out their drivers and couriers with the inflated gas prices. Most companies have either phased this out or stopped helping drivers with gas altogether. 

DoorDash has recently announced a new in-app feature to help Dashers save on gas prices. The delivery platform is partnering with GasBuddy to help drivers find the most affordable gas in the area. 

“Dashers come to DoorDash to earn how, when, and where they want. We’re proud to support Dashers through partnerships that help them keep more of their earnings so they can pay bills and save for the future,” said Trevor Reader, Head of Dasher Marketing. “Our new partnership with GasBuddy will help Dashers find and save on gas at a time when many of their other bills are rising.” 

“This is extremely helpful for us Dashers, especially with skyrocketing inflation occurring in our economy,” said Anna Faalogoifo, a San Francisco-based Dasher. “Because I drive so much with DoorDash, I’m always looking for the best gas prices in San Francisco, and sometimes catch myself driving around for 15-30 minutes to find a gas station with the cheapest gas, many times going outside of San Francisco to fill up. This program will help me find one without going out my way.”

My Thoughts: Saving money on gas is always a good thing; every driver can agree on that. With having this feature built right into the DoorDash app, it should make it easier for Dashers to use as opposed to having a separate app open to do the gas station search.

However, drivers should keep in mind that this integration does not mean that they will be getting discounted gas prices. Instead, it’s a simple way to find the cheapest gas near the driver while dashing.

Hey Dashers! What do you think about the new updates coming from DoorDash? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

-Paula @ RSG