Behind the Wheel with DoorDash: A Revealing Look from the Driver's Seat


When it comes to flexible job options, DoorDash often appears as a beacon of opportunity, promising the freedom to work on your own schedule and in your preferred locales. However, a detailed experiment conducted by our team, involving 20 bloggers driving for DoorDash anonymously, has peeled back the veneer to reveal some less-than-satisfactory truths about the gig.


Our bloggers found the initial setup surprisingly straightforward. Signing up was a breeze—all manageable from a smartphone in just one evening. However, the ease of entry soon gave way to a waiting game, as approval to start dashing took longer than anticipated. This waiting period could be a significant setback for anyone counting on a quick start to earning.


Once our testers were on board, the first major hurdle emerged: scheduling. DoorDash requires drivers to book their work slots in rigid 30-minute increments, significantly in advance. This system starkly contrasts with other gig platforms we've evaluated, where one can spontaneously log in and start working, especially useful around busy areas like town centers. Our group of dashers, which included parents and college students, found this scheduling rigidity to be particularly constraining, given their unpredictable personal commitments. The inflexibility led to excessive downtime, turning what was supposed to be a flexible job option into a scheduling nightmare.


The frustrations didn't end with scheduling. Our testers were almost unanimous in their criticism of DoorDash's driver support team. The support team, which isn’t based in the United States, struggled with understanding and effectively resolving the drivers' issues. The interactions were often filled with generic responses, leading to unproductive loops with various departments. According to our testers, this level of support was notably the worst they've encountered in gig economy roles, which is saying something given the generally mixed reputation of support in gig work. If we could give negative stars in a rating, this is where we would do so. 


Perhaps the most disheartening feedback concerned the platform’s approach to managing disputes and driver ratings. Described as a "guilty until proven innocent" system, it left many of our drivers feeling defenseless and unfairly judged. This aspect of the driver experience could deter many potential new drivers, especially those who value transparency and fair treatment in their professional engagements. Several drivers reported that after food had been delivered customer's would file complaints that were known to be bogus and get a "contract violation" for the driver. This really upset the drivers that were trying to do everything by the letter of the book for DoorDash and not given the ability to respond to the accusation in any form that was reviewed by a human being. 


Our exploration into the world of DoorDash driving continues with some stark revelations about the daily hurdles our anonymous team of bloggers faced, particularly when it came to delivering orders. The ideal of dropping off a meal with a simple "ding" of the doorbell often clashed with the reality of logistical challenges, leading to frustrations that went far beyond mere navigation.


A common complaint among our testers involved incorrect or incomplete deliveries—issues that were exacerbated by missing house numbers and inaccessible customers. Imagine the predicament: a driver arrives with hot food in hand, only to find no house number and a customer who, having opted for "no contact" delivery, remains unresponsive to calls or texts. With no way to confirm the correct drop-off location, drivers frequently found themselves in a catch-22 situation. The typical advice from DoorDash support was to "just leave the order in a safe location for the customer," advice that ignored the impossibility of confirming a safe and correct drop-off spot without customer interaction. This scenario not only added stress and confusion but often led to wasted time and resources as drivers attempted to fulfill their delivery duties responsibly.


Compounding these operational frustrations was the critical issue of compensation. Fair pay for fair work is a fundamental expectation in any job, yet our drivers' experiences painted a different picture. Across various states, the financial feedback was disheartening. Most orders tipped minimally if any at all, with an average tip amounting to about $4, combined with a base fee that was overwhelmingly insulting ($2.50 per order). This fee structure made it economically unviable for drivers, especially considering that nearly 68% of all deliveries required a drive of more than 16 miles. The math simply didn't add up. With current gas prices, many drivers found themselves making less than minimum wage, effectively paying to work when factoring in vehicle expenses like gas and maintenance.


As the complaints about pay came in we asked the drivers from our team to keep a log of all the orders that tipped versus those that did not and it was astonishing to our team that so many customers felt that there was no need to tip at all. 43% of all orders did not include a tip at all. Almost 29% of orders only included a dollar or less for the tip. Some customers were grateful and tipped very well. After doing a little research of our own 


Our 6 month long experiment culminated in the following sobering average - working over 40 hours yielded less than $225 per week per driver, prior to subtracting the costs associated with gas and car upkeep. The economic inefficiency of this gig was stark, and the emotional and physical toll it took on our drivers was palpable. Almost half of our drivers said that they felt like the expectations of the drivers for the pay was unobtainable and we can now see why so many Dashers seem to snap on ring cameras. It is hard to feel accomplished after and extremely taxing day dealing with rude and impossible to maintain requirements with no support from the company


Another issue many drivers faced was again idiotic to say the least! After COVID most shops still seal bags for the customer's safety, but short staffing has led to so many issues with orders being packed and prepared either completely incorrectly or partially missing. Drivers have no way of noting that a bag is sealed but regularly reminded and punished for missing items or being given the wrong order. This is not ok! If a driver is going to be blamed for the store's mistakes then they should have a way of noting what they were given as well as the attitude of the merchant. A few shop employees made the following statements: 


  • "DoorDash orders get made last! We are too busy to worry about an order put in for someone not here." - Bojangles 
  • "We are not able to make that order right now because we are too busy so we just canceled it. You can try later." - McDonalds 
  • "You will have to come in to get that order. We don't do delivery orders through the drive through!" - Wendy's after the driver attempted to enter the building and was unable to get through locked doors resulting in having to pass the order back to someone else since the woman on the headset kept yelling "move for the next car sir, I can't help you," for nearly 7 minutes. 
  • "Ugh, someone else get this to-go DoorDash order, I don't get paid enough for this headache," and then walking off at Sagebrush


Lastly, our drivers reported regularly that they were targeted by many of the stores with rude comments about "confirm the order where I can see it" before being able to collect the order. Even merchants were treating drivers like criminals out to steal their food with no previous interaction with the drivers. 


Reflecting on these insights, it becomes clear that the DoorDash driver experience may not be as rosy as advertised. For those considering this gig as a flexible job opportunity, it's crucial to weigh these realities heavily. While the allure of working on your terms is undeniable, the economic and logistical realities could significantly undermine the benefits. For those looking for sustainable and fair compensation for their labor, our recommendation would be to explore other avenues or platforms that offer a more balanced return on investment of time and resources. DoorDash as a company appears to be a money-hungry monster with no concern for the customer or driver. 


This exploration into the day-to-day realities of driving for DoorDash has certainly shed light on the complexities and challenges beneath the surface of what is often touted as a convenient and flexible job opportunity. It’s clear that while the allure of dashing is strong, the reality might give many potential drivers pause, prompting them to consider whether this gig truly aligns with their needs and expectations.


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