In the midst of some not-so-great news for DoorDash (or Dashers), DoorDash has been trying to improve its image and be more transparent. Dasher extraordinaire Dash Bridges recently took part in a discussion about DoorDash pay, transparency and more. He shares how the discussion went and how it may impact Dashers going forward below.
Recently, DoorDash founder and CEO Tony Xu wrote a blog post about improvements to the Dasher Experience. It was newsworthy enough that I wrote about their attempts at pay transparency here. Xu’s post contained a defense of its controversial tipping payout policy, so we assumed it was full steam ahead.
Then on Wednesday, July 24, us Dashers woke up to an email that said, in part:
“While we continue to hear from Dashers that the model generally works for you, to serve Dashers well over the long term, we also have to serve the consumers who use our platform. I did not think that we could continue to do right by you if there were some customers who felt like their tip did not matter.
So what does this mean for you? It means we will soon announce a new pay model where any customer tip will be independent of DoorDash’s contribution for that delivery. It also means that we’ll need your input as we develop other details. Stay tuned for ways to continue to have your perspective heard.”
Apparently the tips-as-DoorDash-subsidy narrative filtered its way to enough customers that it created a problem on the consumer side. And THAT, as opposed to Dasher outrage, led to the policy revision. Weird how the world works, right?
Interested in learning more about DoorDash? Check out our latest articles, including:
- Sign up to drive for DoorDash
- DoorDash Pledges Pay Transparency
- Can Dashers Really Make $17.50 an Hour?
DoorDash Puts Out the Bat Signal for Dashers
On Saturday, July 27th, a member of the DD Operations Team emailed me, among many other SF Bay Area Dashers, to “get insights from local Dashers TODAY at DoorDash HQ at 4 pm”. The email included a link to a brief questionnaire. It asked a couple of demographic questions, as well as how we’d want the pay method to work. It also said they’d pay $75.00 plus transportation fees for our time. I filled it out right away and submitted. About 30 minutes later, I received a call inviting me to participate. I’m going to be an influencer!
I arrived right around 4 pm. A DD regional guy let me into the building right there in downtown San Francisco, on Market Street. Yes, the offices look like a startup you’d see on TV. Minimalist industrial layout with youthful flair, couches and chairs in common areas, fridges with free drinks inside, etc.
I was led into a conference room that included eight local Dashers, representing a variety of ethnicities and ages. I think there was a second meeting happening concurrently, as late arrivers were led elsewhere. There were three DD employees in our room. One was adjusting the presentation according to the discussion, one was observing, and a product manager led the meeting.
The PM led by referencing the emails and saying he wanted feedback on some ideas they had for a new payment structure. He wanted direct responses, positive and negative, and for the conversation to be directed at him, as in no shooting down others’ ideas. Among the big ideas for changes are:
- Acceptance bonuses for less-desirable deliveries
Everyone replied, “Cheesecake Factory!” So under consideration, they might give a boost for restaurants that traditionally have difficulty getting acceptances. Certainly DD can utilize the data from the post-delivery report every Dasher gives, and use it to determine what restaurants need further incentives.
- Hard-dollar amounts for time and or distance
Yes, a great development! All Dashers want to tear down the mysterious algorithm variable by variable and see how we’re getting paid. We were shown combinations of per minute and/or per mile calculations on how much we get paid. They were:
- Total estimated minutes + total miles driven
- Minutes in store + miles driven
- Minutes in store + miles from restaurant to delivery
Our group tended to favor the first option, though it didn’t seem like these were necessarily final choices. I had the impression the PM just wanted to know what Dashers felt were the most important earnings standards.
New Structure NOT About Decreasing Pay
By the way, the PM wanted to be very clear when telling us that these changes WOULD NOT DECREASE our pay, and that it wasn’t their intention to do so. He was adamant that DoorDash had a goal of paying out the same amount, but they needed to use different methods of compensation to regain Dasher trust.
Finally, he revealed the best change of all:
- Customers have the ability to tip post-delivery
Hooray! DoorDash customers will soon have the ability to tip both before and/or after their delivery, if they so choose. All you Dashers who exhibit outstanding customer service may get compensated for your additional effort!
Customers will not have the ability to pull their tip after the fact, either. Only add. The only downside I can imagine is if a customer decides to hold their normal tip until they receive their food, then forgets or flakes on the tip they originally intended. I think Dashers will accept that risk.
Concerns Over Misunderstood Pay Rates
Now, before you go and celebrate with a handful of fries, this brings up a tricky and POSSIBLY MISLEADING issue that concerns DoorDash corporate. We were shown a number of screens that they could use upon acceptance request. Currently we see:
That “$6.36 Guaranteed” includes the minimum amount DoorDash will pay, which may or may not include a tip. NOW, with a post-delivery tipping option, there are other ways to describe the earnings potential. Let’s imagine that the above order was paid for as follows (though not shown to us):
$1.00 DoorDash base pay
$2.00 Customer Tip
$3.36 DoorDash Additional Pay
In theory, here’s how it could look now:
- “$4.36 + possible tip”
- Only shows DoorDash’s guaranteed amount. No tip representation.
- “$7.00: DoorDash plus expected tip” (italics mine)
- Similar to Caviar’s system, it shows DoorDash’s payment plus the anticipated average tip based on a number of factors.
- Adds the DoorDash and existing customer tip with no mention of a possible post-delivery tip.
Our group overwhelmingly preferred Option 1. Two of us noted we’ve used Option 2 with Caviar and they routinely overestimated customer tips, which led to disappointment.
Read more about how to get started and earn with Caviar here.
One drawback of Option 1 for the DoorDash team was that they were concerned YOU will think ”$4.36 + possible tip” is a $2 pay decrease from seeing “$6.36” under the old version. They’re worried about backlash for the lower initial number, even though it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Even in the group discussion, one woman complained that she doesn’t want to do all these calculations in her head. She wants simplicity so she can accept/decline without much thought. She likes the current method.
So even among our eight-person group, speaking directly with a product manager, we had challenges with the explanation. Now imagine that in emails and social media posts among hundreds of thousands of Dashers. It’s a huge reason for concern!
While there were additional pay options and ideas in the initial presentation, as focus groups go, conversations went long and sideways and we only heard a fraction of the anticipated topics in our meeting. Furthermore, one or more Dashers kept referring to ‘getting screwed on tips for the past two years’ and insisted any new program can only begin after Dashers had been paid for ‘the tips you took from us’’.
While this PM was in no position to agree to such a payout, he graciously allowed the Dasher to bring it up again and again. Multiple times, the PM told us that DoorDash is NOT DECREASING PAY and that his goal is to build and regain trust with the Dasher community. And how can he do that?
Dashers’ Key Request: Transparency
Time and time again, the group came back with ‘transparency’. Show us where the money is coming from. Once we have transparency, we can adjust details from there.
I think the DD team wanted to go about an hour. The meeting lasted about 80 minutes, at which time they thanked us and we left. Within a couple of hours, the $75 payment plus parking money was added to our weekly pay report.
I wanted to share this experience to demonstrate what I thought was a genuine effort to reach out to the Dasher community. To be clear, they don’t know ‘Dash Bridges’ nor did I receive any special considerations. I just happened to be one of the locals they contacted for this last-minute meeting and they didn’t make me sign an NDA 🙂
Again, I thought their intentions were both genuine and sincere. And if DoorDash implements the transparencies we asked to see, we’ll see a better partnership.
Interested in getting started with DoorDash? Sign up for DoorDash here.
What do you think of this effort by DoorDash to increase transparency? Are you surprised or not?
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-Dash @ RSG