Should DoorDash and Lyft merge into one company?

Is there a future where DoorDash and Lyft will become one and the same? Is that where we’re headed — rideshare and food delivery combined across the board? Let’s explore that along with Instacart’s solution to the tip baiting problems on their platform. Join senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins with this week’s roundup. 

Instacart will compensate workers who get stiffed on tips (Engadget

Summary: Instacart is doing more to limit the damage from customers who shortchange drivers (aka shoppers in Instacart lingo) through “tip baiting.” The service is introducing “tip protection” for shoppers that covers up to $10 if a customer eliminates their tip after delivery without reporting an order problem. This won’t always cover the full tip and suggests earlier initiatives (such as requiring feedback on zero-tip orders) weren’t effective, but should prevent couriers from suffering particularly severe financial blows.

The company is also making it easier for shoppers to collect their tips by shrinking the cash-out window from 24 hours to just two. The platform is also rolling out a previously-tested prompt that asks customers to consider increasing their tips when they give shoppers five-star ratings. This has led to a slight 6 percent increase in average shopper earnings during the pilot phase, Instacart claimed.

The tipping changes come alongside new batch types that let shoppers make the most of their travel time. Multi-store batches let them pick up orders from numerous locations, and they can accept new customers’ orders while they’re already in a store, not just before they start shopping. They might not miss out on as many income opportunities, to put it another way….

My Take: Tip baiting has been an ongoing problem for years. It’s nice to see a platform attempting to address it. It’s devastating for shoppers to think they are earning $20 for their batch just to have half of it taken away with no comment from the customer that there was anything wrong with the order.

Customers have used tip baiting to ensure their order gets handled quickly. No tip orders tend to stay untouched. So, customers put a high tip amount on an order to get the shoppers’ attention, then once it’s delivered, they pull the switch and remove most, if not all, of the tip. Leaving shoppers high and dry with significantly fewer earnings than they thought.

In 2020, Instacart attempted to stop tip baiting from happening, but it continued to be a problem. Previously, they allowed customers to change their tip amount within 3 days of their order being delivered. In 2020, they changed that to 24 hours. Now, they are covering up to $10 if a tip is removed with no feedback from the customer.

Driver feedback on RSG’s Facebook page was mostly positive:

“They righted a wrong. Good for the drivers!” said Michelle P.

Bryan P. agreed, “Love to see this for other gig workers/platforms.”

However, some comments indicated this isn’t the best way to go about it.

Jody D. said, “Not a viable solution. Everyone will just report a problem to be able to get the tip removed.”

And Donna C. suggested, “Why don’t they just remove the option to change tip altogether. Once they verify and activate the order, it should be locked in. They can add tip option for increases. Easy peasy.”

But others jumped in, saying if the IC shopper gives horrible service, customers do still need the option to remove the tip or at least lower it.

Only time will tell if Instacart’s latest solution will solve the problem.

I don’t think it will stop customers from continuing the practice, but it’s great that shoppers will be compensated in some way.

More than 50 gig workers have been killed while working in the US since 2017 (The Verge

Summary: Isabella Lewis was driving for Lyft on a Sunday in Plano, Texas, last August when she was carjacked and killed by her passenger. As her family tried to piece together what happened, they kept receiving calls from an insurance company they didn’t recognize, but finally realized it was Lyft’s insurer, who wanted to inspect Lewis’ car in order to determine whether it would pay to fix the damaged windshield and clean up her blood.

To date, however, her family says it has not had any communication from anyone with Lyft’s corporate office.

“The only thing we have heard from Lyft is when they said in the Dallas newspaper that their hearts were with us,” Lewis’ sister Allyssa said in an interview with The Verge. “I wish [Lyft] had handled the situation with more empathy. We didn’t feel like anyone had our back, as her family.” The fare for the ride was only $15, Allyssa added. Her family had to raise money for Isabella’s funeral service on GoFundMe….

My Take: Any death is too many. But, in all honesty, I would have expected this number to be much higher than 50, especially considering it’s spanning 4-5 years. It’s a bit of a relief that the number is that small in the grand scheme of things.

However, with carjackings still running rampant across this country, I would still practice safety while doing rideshare and delivery driving.

DoorDash and Lyft Should Merge, Analyst Says. This Is the Logic. (Barrons)

Summary: DoorDash should merge with Lyft. At least, that’s what New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu thinks.

In a research note published Wednesday, Ferragu lays out the case for why the food-delivery giant and the ride-sharing service would be a perfect match. The logic isn’t hard to see.

Ferragu says combining the businesses would keep drivers…

My Take: Let’s take it straight to RSG’s Facebook readers’ reactions.

Matt L. said, “They’re both frauds, imo. Trying to get drivers to deliver someone or something for free. It could be a match; then again, another driver may be closer and switch mid-trip. Best of luck to them.”

In a similar vein, Danielle H. said, “No, the last thing I wanna do is drive up and down the 205 freeway with someone’s food, while Lyftdash tries to decide which order actually goes to which person.”

This, of course, is in reference to Lyft’s habit of reassigning drivers when they are almost to their pickup spot, claiming another driver is closer or that you’re the closest one for your new assignment while making you drive another five miles in the opposite direction.

Sandra mentioned that the only way she’d be ok with this pairing is if they keep the divisions separate. But overwhelmingly, the response was “No.”

I understand that Uber and Uber Eats/Postmates need to make it work. But, I don’t think Lyft and DoorDash make sense as a pairing. I also think DoorDash would be shooting themselves in the foot.

Lyft doesn’t have most of the market share for ridesharing, but DoorDash does for food delivery. They’d be leveling themselves down if DoorDash paired with a company that is overall less successful at gaining and keeping customers than DoorDash is.

Also in the news…

Hertz partners with Polestar to expand EV rental fleet (New Atlas)

Thoughts: EVs are becoming more and more viable options for rideshare drivers, delivery drivers and the general public. They are becoming more widely available as well as more affordable.

Interested in learning more about driving EVs for rideshare? Join RSG’s Uber & Lyft EV Drivers Facebook group here!

Uber, Flywheel Technologies nearing deal for San Francisco taxi partnership: report (Fox Business

Thoughts: More news about Uber bringing taxi options to passengers, this time in San Francisco. This isn’t exactly ‘new’ news, as Uber has done this in other cities for years, but it does bring up questions about how Uber always positioned itself as “not a taxi service.”

Build Back Better for the Gig Economy with Herb Coakley, CEO of Courial (Elemental Excelerator

Thoughts: I like the idea of “redesigning” the rideshare system to make it better. But I also feel like it’s been tried and doesn’t seem to catch on, partially because Uber and Lyft are so well established. I’ll be curious to see what Herb Coakley is able to accomplish.

Take a breather during your next Ride Streak (Lyft Hub

Thoughts: Lyft has followed in Uber’s footsteps, allowing their drivers to “pause” their driving without affecting their ride streaks. Sometimes you just really gotta go to the bathroom, or many other incidentals that happen throughout the day, but then you’d miss out on the streak you’re in the middle of. It’ll be nice to be able to continue streaks without sacrificing your needs.

What do you think of Instacart’s attempt at keeping tip baiting out of the equation? Have you been affected by tip baiting? 

-Paula @ RSG