Delivery Drivers Are ‘Wrung Out’

As demand grows, delivery workers struggle with little pay, low transparency. 

November 11, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The demand for grocery delivery is at a record high, and more and more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon, whether they’re partnering with a service or offering it themselves. But filling and delivering these orders is labor-intensive, and the delivery drivers themselves are experiencing changes as things escalate.

The Washington Post reports that “drivers for many third-party platforms say they are being wrung out in ways that ultimately result in lower pay and less transparency about how their wages are calculated.” 

Because the gig economy is relatively new, there is no tried-and-true business model. So as companies like Instacart gain traction, they’re constantly tweaking the system to perform more efficiently—but for now, workers are essentially competing with each other for pay, with their paychecks up to the discretion of the platform’s algorithm.

After a recent algorithm switch, Postmate workers say they are making 30% less than what they did prior to the change in May 2019 that eliminated a $4-per-job guarantee.

Meanwhile, food and grocery delivery services are so popular that even local governments are taking action to regulate it. In California, lawmakers are pushing to regulate how food is stored and hoping to include driver training on proper handling and temperatures. Good Day Sacramento reports that the bill applies to app-based grocery delivery services, which include Instacart and Shipt, but does not apply to grocery chains offering their own services or companies like GrubHub or DoorDash.