The use of food delivery and ride sharing services has spiked over the past couple of years. I’ve found that not only are people using these services for themselves, but more and more people are signing up to drive for these apps as well. Despite the inflated prices of delivery fees, nothing truly beats the convenience of being able to order food from your favorite restaurants from the palm of your hand. About two months ago, I decided to jump onto the wagon and sign up to be a DoorDash driver. While I am in a pretty comfortable spot in my life financially, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try and make some extra money on the side to try and pay off some bills a little quicker (also I’m trying to get to a financially responsible place for me to buy a new car). Just as anyone would guess, when you work for certain ride sharing apps, you get to meet all kinds of different people, limited your interaction with customers may be. In the two months of being a DoorDash delivery person, I started to build my own treasure trove of interesting encounters.
1. The guy who never got his pizza
Given that the ride sharing apps all live on the internet, we should already assume that this platform sometimes isn’t the most reliable one. This is how a standard delivery runs: I receive a delivery notification on my phone, I accept the order, then I am routed to the restaurant. Once I accept the order, the app gives the customer regular updates about their order, from the moment that I am assigned the delivery to the minute I reach their front door. When I was on an assignment in Fullerton two weeks ago, I was reaching the end of my shift, and figured I had enough time to do one more delivery. Just as I finished the delivery I was on, I got another assignment, and decided that would be my last delivery for that night. There was an MMA (I think?) fight that night, and so plenty of people chose to stay in and order takeout – which means more money for me to make with all these deliveries. The order I received was a pizza order from a restaurant nearby, and the guy who ordered it lived about a mile away from the pizza place – the perfect space of time for me to finish off my shift. I arrived at the restaurant, informed the hostess that I was picking up an order for so-and-so, and she told me that the food was still being prepared. This is pretty standard, since the order tends to come to me and the restaurant at around the same time, and so the chances of the order being ready when I get to the restaurant are pretty slim. After about ten minutes, I checked back in with the hostess to follow up on the order, so she went into the kitchen to go check on it once again. By this time, I knew that my customer could see that I had spent an unusual amount of time at the restaurant to pick up his order. Not wanting there to be any sort of negative feelings, I learned that it’s always important to keep the customer updated should anything unusual come up. This keeps your customer happy, and doesn’t affect your rating. I contacted the customer to let him know that I was still waiting for his food to finish getting prepared, and I would be on my way as soon as it was ready. The customer was very kind, understanding, and appreciative of me keeping him in the loop of the status of his order. He responded jokingly, “At least that means it’ll be fresh, right?”
More time passed, and it was getting dangerously close to the time that the food was supposed to arrive at the customer’s door step. I once again followed up with the hostess, who then went to the kitchen to check on the order before coming back to the front to inform me that the restaurant never received the customer’s order. She said that her manager was currently on the phone with DoorDash to try and rectify the situation, and as soon as they resend the order, they would try to prepare the order as fast as they can. I followed up with the customer once again, and, just like anyone would, he began to get a little frustrated. I apologized for the inconvenience, and left it at that for a bit, and promised to keep him posted. More time passed without getting any sort of update on the order I was waiting on, nor was the hostess trying to make any eye contact with me, knowing that I, too, was getting frustrated. I followed up again, and she said that the order was still never received. Since I had the items on my phone, I suggested that I place the order on the customer’s behalf since he already paid for it and had been waiting for about half an hour at that point. There was more back and forth between me, the hostess, and another waiter (who was way more helpful than the hostess, to be completely honest), and I was keeping the customer posted about his now nonexistent order. I was getting anxious. The customer was getting agitated. The waitstaff remained as calm as they could. The customer wanted his money back. My head was spinning as I was in contact with DoorDash support to try and rectify the situation, with the customer to try and keep him happy, and with the waitstaff to see where the hell this man’s pizza order was. To end this story, the customer never got his food, got a full refund, and I still got paid for the delivery. In this situation, I learned to remain as calm and patient as possible, since the technical glitch wasn’t the fault of anyone in particular. Thankfully, the support team at DoorDash was incredibly helpful, and satisfied all parties as best as they could.
2. The Starbucks lady
In some instances, I have to be the one to place the order and pay for it (with the debit card that DoorDash supplied me with) before taking it to the customer. This typically happens with smaller hole-in-the-wall places and larger fast food chains. With DoorDash, the pay I receive, which usually ranges between $5 and $15 per order, reflects on the size of the order. For the first time about a month ago, I received an order from Starbucks. Another thing I enjoy about working for DoorDash is that I can see exactly how much I will make from a delivery before accepting it. When I got the notification for the Starbucks order, it said that my guaranteed earnings for that one delivery would be about $8. Knowing that a Starbucks drink typically costs about $5, I figured this lady must have ordered hella coffee, since there was no way that the delivery payout I received could be more than what the customer paid for. Because this order was for a large franchised chain like Starbucks, the app routed me to the Starbucks on the UC Irvine campus. My initial thought was that this order was probably for a student in a dorm somewhere on campus, and despite how absurd it would be for someone to order a Starbucks delivery for themselves from their dorm room, I would at least profit off of it. When I got to the location, I pulled up the list of items the customer ordered, expecting to find a long list of complicated drinks. Instead, I was met with one very simple drink – a venti iced vanilla latte. I refreshed the page. I scrolled up, down, and side to side looking for the rest of the order, but the sole drink order remained on the list of items given to me. I shrugged it off, ordered the drink and went on my way to make the delivery. I was expecting the app to route me to a different location on the campus, but instead routed me to the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, fifteen minutes away from where I was. So to end this already absurd journey, not only would I be making $8 from a $4 drink, but I would also have to deliver it 15 minutes away to a lady in the middle of her shift at a mall, that probably had a Starbucks inside it. I was mentally preparing myself for whatever snide comments the customer would have, having to wait almost half an hour to receive her not-so-iced vanilla latte, and I shouted expletives from the inside of my brain on the drive to the mall, frustrated at the absurdity of this shift. Luckily, she was very friendly and, at the very least, very thankful to have her morning caffeine intake in the early afternoon. As absurd as some deliveries may be, there’s really no room for me to complain, since I’m essentially a glorified waiter profiting off of people’s laziness.
3. The lady with no address
When I receive a notification for a food delivery, I don’t receive all of the information all at once. That is, I first receive and accept an order on the Dasher app, then routed to the restaurant for the pick up, then finally receive the customer’s drop off location. One evening, when I picked up an order at Pick Up Stix in Chino Hills, I noticed that the customer only input her street name when she placed the order, and failed to include a house number. I figured that the customer would either be awaiting her food order at a well-lit nearby intersection, or the specific location of the customer’s house would be so blatant and obvious that I didn’t need a house number. In any case, I routed to the customer’s location. Lo and behold, I was routed to a long neighborhood, houses lining both sides of the street, with no one to be found on the street who appeared to be waiting for a delivery. I contacted the customer and asked if there was a specific location she wanted her order dropped off. With my luck, the phone number she provided didn’t work. So here I was with two bags full of hot Chinese food waiting to be eaten, stranded in a random new development in the boondocks of Chino, with depleting phone reception. Not knowing what to do, I contacted the support team and explained the situation to them. The guy I was in contact with also attempted to contact the customer, but also to no avail. Since there was nothing else I could do, he told me I could keep the food, that he would email the customer to explain the situation, and that I would still be paid in full for the delivery. Normally, this would be a huge win for anyone (free dinner, hello), but since I’m a vegetarian, all of the dishes the customer ordered were meat dishes, and none of my roommates were in town for that weekend, I was left with a bunch of food that I couldn’t eat.
Not wanting the food to go to waste, and feeling especially generous that night, I posted my “predicament” onto Facebook, asking if any of my friends in the greater Inland Empire region would be interested in some free Chinese food that I would be glad to personally deliver to them at no cost. I got a very enthusiastic response from some friends who also lived in the Chino area, claiming the food. I made my way to their house to drop off the goods, and on my way there, I began getting a string of text messages and phone calls from none other than the customer with no address. She sent me a string of text messages with the address I was supposed to deliver the food to in between urgent phone calls and more urgent text messages. Since I was driving, I couldn’t really respond to the text messages or answer the phone, so I pulled over to go through the plethora of angry messages and phone calls. This was interrupted with a phone call from DoorDash support (seriously, God bless them), asking on behalf of the customer about the status of the order. I told the support person the entire situation, including being instructed to keep or dispose the food, and she told me that she would take care of the situation and explain the situation to the customer. After my anxiety attack subsided, I continued on to my friends’ house to deliver the food they claimed, and was met with a lot of appreciation and thankfulness.
Despite the occasional stressful (and sometimes downright irritating) food delivery, I do enjoy driving for DoorDash. Given the fact that I almost immediately break under the pressure of having to interact with strangers, the limited interaction I do get to have with people is almost always positive. The job itself is easy, and it frankly feels a little criminal profiting so easily from doing something that isn’t so taxing. I’ve learned a lot from working this job, from learning how to troubleshoot under pressure, to gaining a better understanding and respect for people who work in the food and beverage industry. So the next time you decide to order from one of these food delivery apps, be patient, kind, and understanding. And also tip well.