Rideshare drivers protest at O’Hare for fair wages and working conditions

This week between the holidays is filled with news of protests, slashed valuations, startups and more. Also, DoorDash actually institutes some ‘penalties’ for customers who complain too much! Keep reading for more in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar.

Instacart Cuts Internal Valuation by Another 20% to $10 Billion (The Information)

Summary: Instacart, the grocery delivery startup that bankers expect will list its shares publicly next year, has cut its internal valuation to around $10 billion, according to two people familiar with the situation. The new valuation is 20% lower than the one it had in October and nearly 75% lower than the price investors paid for shares early last year, when its paper valuation was $39 billion.

The new valuation gives a sense of the price San Francisco-based startup could fetch when it sells shares to the public. Instacart, which has raised over $2.5 billion from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, spent much of this year meeting with over 50 potential investors ahead of a highly anticipated initial public offering, The Information previously reported. In October, Instacart finally put those plans on ice, blaming “extremely turbulent” markets. Shares of DoorDash, the publicly traded instant delivery company, have dropped two-thirds since the beginning of this year….

My Take: I’ve mentioned before that I don’t know much about Wall Street, stocks, and how all this works. But it can’t be a good thing that Instacart is continually slashing its valuation!

In May 2022, we reported on Instacart taking the leap to go public by the end of the year. It seemed like every couple of months, there was another issue that arose. Finally, they said going public wasn’t going to happen in 2022 at all. But at the same time, their valuation was slashed, and now they are cutting it again.

Three years ago, both Uber and Lyft went public.

Uber, Lyft drivers to protest at O’Hare for fair wages, better working conditions (Daily Herald)

Summary: Uber and Lyft drivers say they are getting a rough ride from the app companies and are demanding fair wages, job safety and health protections.

Several drivers plan to rally at 7 p.m. Tuesday at O’Hare International Airport, more specifically at TNP Waiting Lot Alpha near Balmoral Avenue and Mannheim Road in Des Plaines.

The rally is being organized by the Justice for App Workers coalition, which includes such organizations as Chicago Uber Drivers, Road Warriors Chicago, Independent Drivers Guild Illinois, Latinos Unidos Uber y Lyft, Rideshare Revolutionaries, Chicago Stolen Car Directory and SOS Uber y Lyft. Their members drive for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and GrubHub, among others.

My Take: Tis the season for protests, it seems. Last week, we reported on protests in NYC over a pay increase blocked by the courts. This time around, we’re in Chicago, specifically O’Hare International Airport.

This union-backed driver protest in Chi-town focused on unfair deactivations, low pay, and poor bathroom conditions (specifically at the airport waiting lot).

These are common complaints we hear from drivers across the country. And I personally can attest to poor bathroom conditions, at least at the MSP airport driver waiting lot. As a female, it was exceedingly difficult to use the facilities there when needed. It was better to hold it and hope there was a clean public restroom nearby after dropping off your passenger you collected from the airport.

Low pay is also a common complaint. Uber and Lyft used to advertise drivers receiving 80% of the fare. Now drivers are lucky if they see 50% of what passengers pay.

‘They don’t even be trying’: Customer says male Instacart shopper substituted onion for green apple (Daily Dot)

Summary: There’s a theory amongst Instacart customers that male Instacart shoppers are markedly worse than female shoppers.

The theory states that male shoppers are more likely to simply say an item is out-of-stock rather than look for it, misunderstand an order, or they will reject substitutions for reasons that are unknown to the customer.

Several users on TikTok have gone viral after sharing a similar sentiment. In one case, a user claimed that a shopper told her frozen meatballs were out-of-stock and rejected her substitution. When she arrived at the store the next day, the meatballs were in fact in stock, and an employee informed her that they had also been in stock the day before….

My Take: Unfortunately, these Daily Dot articles tend to be about customers with complaints against drivers/shoppers. It’s becoming increasingly common for customers to make these complaints. Whether or not they have merit is another story.

However, it would also not surprise me if there are some Instacart shoppers out there who will go through an order as quickly as possible, making poor substitutions without reaching out to customers, in order to finish up a shop quickly to make more money.

I remember once I ordered groceries and asked for a small turkey roast (about 2 pounds) since it was only going to be two of us for Thanksgiving. I was given a 20 lb turkey in its place. It’s highly possible that the store was out of the smaller roasts, but maybe next time, ask if I want something else before making me pay for a 20 lb turkey. That cost difference could make or break some people.

Also in the News…

‘Most of the time the food is messed up anyways’: DoorDash customer says she now has to sign for every delivery after getting too many refunds (Daily Dot)

Thoughts: While this may seem inconvenient to the customer, this should ease the minds of some of the drivers, at least. I find it highly unlikely that every single order this person receives is wrong, unless they make very strange requests and substitutions that confuse the restaurant and/or Dasher.

Uber is getting rid of the fuel surcharge on January 3rd (Reddit)

Thoughts: This surcharge has been around since gas prices skyrocketed over the spring/summer of 2022. Now it’s disappearing from one of the last platforms that have kept it going.

Woman shares Uber hack for dangerous situation: ‘So smart’ (Yahoo)

Thoughts: While these hacks could prove life-saving, or at least help authorities find your body, it always makes me sad to think that we as customers have to take it upon ourselves to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves at all costs.

Here are some of our suggestions on how to stay safe as a rider and driver.

Have you ever had to make odd substitutions for customers as a delivery driver? What were they?

-Paula @ RSG