As drivers, we’re asked to deliver all sorts of interesting people to and from destinations. But have you ever been asked (by your Uber app) to deliver an item and not a person? In some markets, Uber drivers are now seeing requests to pick up and deliver items. RSG contributor Paula Gibbins outlines what to look out for and how to handle an Uber Connect delivery request.
If you’ve been driving for a while, you know how to handle passengers (and maybe Uber Eats, if you drive for both!). But do you know what to do when a request for delivering an item to a person comes through?
In this article, we’re going to walk through what that may look like as well as talk a bit about why it’s unusual for Uber to support this kind of thing. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing for drivers right now:
Recent News About Uber Connect
Since rolling out in April 2020, Uber Connect has now expanded to be more than “just” dropping off local packages. In order to speed along the delivery process (suffering now due to supply shortages, among many other reasons!), Uber recently rolled out some new features to Uber Connect, including:
- “Meet at door” pickup and dropoff option: Instead of only offering curbside service, customers can now select to meet couriers at the door
- Free form notes – As a courier for Uber Connect, you may now see instructions from the customer, like “please handle with care, fragile ornaments inside!”
- Expanded availability – Uber Connect is available in over 6,000 cities and towns, including New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego
Uber expects more packages to be shipped in years past, which is why they’ve recently added new features to Uber Connect. If you’re wondering what a request from Uber Connect looks like, keep reading!
What Does a Delivery Request from Uber Look Like?: Uber Connect
As mentioned above, in April 2020, Uber rolled out Uber Connect. According to Uber:
Uber Connect is an option that allows you [a passenger] to request a driver to help you transport your package(s) to the person waiting at the designated dropoff location.
Here’s an example of what Uber Connect looks like from the passenger’s side:
Basically, with Uber Connect, you are a courier for people who don’t want to use the regular Post Office.
Recently, Uber announced an expansion of the Uber Connect feature. It will now be available in 6,000+ US cities and towns, including NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
Driver Experience with Uber Connect
This exact thing has actually happened to my husband Adam twice so far in his Uber career. The first was a small car part that fit inside a legal sized envelope. The requester called him right away and said what the situation was.
Adam went into the parts warehouse and said he was there for the pickup from X mechanic (as instructed by the requester). In less than two minutes, he was on his way again. When he dropped off the item, he walked into the front door of the business to say that he was dropping the item off for the requester. He said overall, it was very similar to Uber Eats drop offs he’s done in the past.
The second one was dropping off for another local business. The technician needed a part. He was already on the job site, so the business set up an UberX request for Adam to pick up the part and drop it off at the job site.
It was a drawer and drawer components, so still well within the means of a regular sedan to pick-up and drop off; it was smaller than a suitcase. He picked up the stuff from the warehouse. The requester met Adam outside when he pulled up, verified the address he was taking the part to, and when he arrived at the drop-off point, the technician was there to meet him. It all went very smoothly.
For both instances where he did deliveries, Adam got a tip on top of the actual fare. The first was about $5 and the other about $7. Our theory for this is because the business was already saving money by using Uber for delivery instead of a courier that would charge extra if the delivery needed done within an hour. So, they likely tipped Adam as a thank you for taking care of something and saving them money in the process.
Overall, this process is easier than Uber Eats. You typically have to wait at the restaurant for the food to be ready, plus you have the hassle of delivering the food on time. If it’s late, it likely cuts into your tip because you’ll be delivering cold food. Sometimes they put in the request an hour or two before the request actually came through to a driver, and the driver is the one who gets chewed out for this.
What are the Downsides for Delivering Items for Uber?
Of course, there are possible downsides of delivering anything, including people. One big issue with this is that there’s an added level of trust that has to be there.
Do you trust the driver to deliver your items? Do you trust yourself as a driver to deliver something without having a person in the vehicle helping direct you if the end address is hard to find? Can you trust that you’re not delivering something illegal?
It’s odd that Uber is advertising or encouraging something like this due to the added liability involved. It is also odd that Uber hasn’t implemented a way for the customer to fill out a form expressing what the delivery contains (for the safety of the driver and to make sure it’s legal) as well as a way for the destination to sign for it, assuring the package was successfully delivered.
Some drivers might shy away from this kind of service because they are afraid of being asked to deliver something heavy or bulky. One thing to take away from this, however, is whatever is being delivered will have to be able to fit into a sedan. After all, this person is ordering an Uber to make this request.
It seems understood from the Uber Newsroom post above that UberXL’s are not required or asked to take on deliveries. So you likely won’t be delivering someone’s queen-size mattress or something similar to that.
One issue some drivers expressed is not being able to locate the appropriate person to hand the package off to when dropping off. Uber has addressed this issue in a recent update. Customers will now be able to give extra instructions in the app and arrange a “meet at door” option, saving drivers some running around time.
Tips for Delivering With Uber
Here are a few ways of ensuring your safety and hopefully alleviate culpability if you are to encounter this situation before Uber tackles this option on their end.
Present the requester with the following terms and conditions:
1) Have them unseal the package and allow you to examine the contents to confirm that you are not transporting drugs, guns, explosives or anything else forbidden or dangerous.
2) Require a contact name and cell phone number for the person who would be accepting the package at the destination. Also require that this person pick up the package from you at curbside, promptly after your arrival. Lastly, require this person to sign for the delivery.
3) If the contact at the destination does not show up within X minutes (you choose but 2-5 mins is probably reasonable) of your arrival, tell them you will leave and would not deliver the package to anyone whose name was not provided to you by the requester. Tell them you would END the ride, with all charges applied. Then it would be up to you to decide when you would then return the package and if you would charge for this return service.
Personally, I would gladly deliver packages over food or even humans for that matter. It sounds like a lot less hassle than food delivery. It’s also very practical as a quick business solution over using traditional package delivery services or even couriers who may have several stops before delivering your particular package. It would be a great way to earn a few extra bucks.
Plus with customers becoming more and more used to on-demand delivery services, it’s sure to be a great opportunity for more income potential in that respect too.