I delivered hundreds of meals for UberEATS – here’s my experience

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UberEATS Came to Australia in April, 2016. Melbourne was first, a pilot city we were told, and one of only three outside the US trialing it. The promise of more trips had me a little excited, but I probably really signed up to do it more out of curiosity. One thing which had me torn though was if I would enjoy it as much as UberX with nobody in the car to chat with. Some drivers I met were looking forward to this, especially since, if you preferred, you could go online and only receive delivery requests and no passengers. It didn’t work both ways though, if you wanted to just drive UberX, you were out of luck, because going online with UberX allowed both types of requests to come through.

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UberEATS, like UberX, offered “Eaters” (Uber’s terminology) an opportunity to try the service on Uber’s dime with an offer of $10 off your first delivery and more incentives to bring more Eaters on board. It was an opportunity to be in on the ground floor of something before all the drivers were invited to do it since they’d supposedly only invited select partners to participate in the very start. The fares were to be the same as UberX (but never surge), and the amount of trips per day were expected to grow. And according to Uber, drivers in Toronto were making about 10% more if doing UberEATS and UberX rather than just UberX. I was in! I grabbed my insulated bag, and walked off, excited for the day my first delivery request would come through!

My First UberEATS Delivery

I did my first UberEATS delivery on 15 April, 2016. It wasn’t very eventful and definitely was not profitable. When Uber first introduced UberEATS, they set the same rates as UberX. That sounded ok, until you realised that you had to find parking in busy streets, walk to the venue, wait (often for extended periods at the start), then make your way back to the car and drive the food. Only when you had food in hand did the trip actually begin. My first delivery was a minimum fare, I pocketed $4.80 before considering GST, expenses and the personal tax that income was subject to. It took over 20 minutes all up. I figured I’d be turning my insulated bag back in pretty quickly since there was no way with those rates that I’d be making that purported 10% more.

Evolution of UberEATS Rates

It must be that most of the drivers had a similar sentiment to my own with the rates for UberEATS (same as UberX) not stacking up to the promises of making more money because within the first couple weeks, it was raised. Uber began offering a $15.00 minimum fare on all deliveries (less their cut). They said it was temporary, until they could find something more long term. I decided to give it a second chance. Turns out, it was a pretty good idea. Since Uber was handing out free food like candy, the requests were growing more plentiful as more riders discovered and referred friends to the service. I was starting to make more than I was on driving passengers. I even started going online for just deliveries on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I mentioned earlier that I was torn on how that would feel...it was fine. I prefer passengers, but also prefer whatever makes me the most money. I actually started to enjoy it quite a bit. I could listen to audiobooks instead of Spotify, and it got me out of the car a lot more. I “read” a lot of audiobooks on those weekends.

The $15 minimum was never going to last forever, and came to a halt a couple weeks later. Uber introduced what they said would be the permanent rates for UberEATS, a $10.50 delivery fee with $1.40 per kilometre charge (no time). It was pretty good, and still paid more than the average UberX trip. I kept with it. About this time also, Uber introduced “Batched Trips” which allowed a delivery partner to pick up two orders from the same restaurant if there were two that came in at around the same time with a delivery address near one another. The best part was that you got paid separately for both! Soon, to continue to encourage more drivers to do UberEATS, they also introduced an incentive on every delivery trip accepted during some specified high demand periods (dinner time, 7 days a week and lunch on Sundays). The incentives were very attractive and got me out driving nearly every night in those high demand times. The parking was still a pain, but the incentives more than doubled the earnings (or more if you had some batched trips). I was pretty happy I had stuck with it at this point.

All good things must come to an end as we all know, and eventually those incentives began decreasing, but I stuck with it for quite a while longer still. It was only when they reached $5 and heaps more drivers were delivering that I decided to give it a break. I was keen to drive some fellow humans around for a while.

I eventually signed back up to UberEATS as the amount of UberX trip requests during the week continued to dwindle. More drivers are coming on all the time, and this obviously means that there are less rides to go around. By the time I started again, push bikes were also doing UberEATS, and there are heaps of them! I’m still on as a delivery partner, but the good ‘ol days are behind us. I get a delivery request very seldomly now logged on to UberX, since I understand that the system will first allocate these requests to people logged on to do only deliveries and X takes the overflow. The rates have also just evolved a bit more, with a new breakdown which most partners dislike, but is probably much fairer in my opinion. It pays you a set rate for each pickup and delivery along with the distance traveled in between. The catch is that if you have a batched trip, you only get one pickup fee. It means less earnings, but I always felt that the old model was completely in partners’ favour anyway and was somewhat unfair in the scheme of things. I’m ok with that though, and it still helps top up my weekly earnings, so I expect I’ll keep active on it.

I enjoy the different types of interactions I have with people doing UberEATS. It’s a good way to breakup the shift a bit, and I’d suggest it to anyone. The one and only thing I disliked about it, looking back now, is that in the beginning, when there were fewer drivers doing it, and more requests, if there was a surge on, and you were hoping for a big one, you were usually out of luck because you’d get so many UberEATS requests that no X requests ever made it through. This was particularly annoying when the two minute “time-out” tactic was introduced for three consecutively missed requests. They’ve just made a change to this in Melbourne though, and you can now go online for only X trips. I wish they’d done it sooner, but I understand why they didn’t.


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Sam Griffiths

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