What it's Like to Work for Postmates

Lately, I’ve been seeing ads for Postmates all over the internet, I even see some of my favorite YouTubers advertising them, like Philip De Franco for example. So I thought I’d talk about my experience working for them, because, to be honest, I think Postmates is pretty sketchy.

DISCLAIMER: I am only speaking from past experiences and I am not speaking for all Postmate Fleet members. I sometimes speak of money, keep in mind that I live in Orlando, Florida, so the numbers might be different depending on where you live.

How It Started

I’ve worked for multiple delivery app services, including GrubHub, Instacart, and Amazon Flex, so I have a few things to compare Postmates to. I’ve worked for Postmates since December 31st, 2017, right after I graduated from grad school, and since then, I can still work for them even though I haven’t touched the Postmates Fleet app in months, nor have I updated any kind of paperwork to them (background checks, insurance, etc.). All I have to do is open the Fleet app and tell them that I’m available for work.

Getting a job with Postmates is really easy. All you do is sign up, and they send you a pre-payed Postmates card to use for orders in restaurants that don’t work with Postmates, as well as a bag to hold the food in. You activate the card and from there they do a background check that is really quick and bam! You got a job with them. No interview necessary.

Working for a delivery service like this in general is expensive. You need a good phone with good service, you need a car most of the time (at least with Postmates you can walk or use a bike, but good luck getting any orders unless you’re in the middle of a major city), and insurance for that car, not to mention that you get paid un-taxed money since you’re an independent contractor, so you end up owing the government next tax season unless you periodically pay them on your own.

That un-taxed paycheck is nothing compared to the phone bill, car insurance bill, gas needs, car repairs, tolls, parking meters (which you can’t get receipts for to write out on your taxes), possible parking tickets while waiting for an order at a restaurant, and whatever other bills you might need to pay for, so this isn’t a job to have full time. This is only good for making some extra cash on the side if you happen to already have all of the things required, and even then, it’s a stretch.

It’s Probably Not Worth It

Here is how both Postmates and GrubHub, and I’m assuming other food delivery apps work for the workers. We get an order, we drive there, we pick up the food. From then on, the mileage from the restaurant to the customer’s house is calculated, we get a few cents per mile, but most customers usually live within five minutes of the restaurant, maybe one mile or two, rarely do we make a significant amount of money from mileage. We don’t get compensated for driving TO the restaurant, so if someone cancels the order before you get there, you just wasted gas. But if everything goes through and you deliver the food, the customer doesn’t have to tip you until after you already leave, and sometimes, since you’re not in their face, they don’t tip, leaving you with a measly $4 for your trouble if they lived a minute away from the restaurant.

Sometimes, the restaurant isn’t even there anymore, which is just great, because I wasted gas and time and don’t get anything from it.

My favorite customers are the ones that would tip me in cash, because the tips you get digitally also need to be taxed, which to me, is bullshit, considering we already get paid less than minimum wage and probably won’t get tips half the time.

And customers can order from a restaurant only so far from their houses, so essentially, most if not all customers live within 5-7 minutes of the restaurant in my experience. The most I’ve ever seen was 15 minutes, those are rare though.

I remember having to do someone’s entire Walgreens shopping for like, 30-45 minutes, it ended up being over $100 worth of stuff, and the customer lived five or so minutes away, and he didn’t tip (I knew he wasn’t going to with that kind of bill), and all I got was $4.88 for that. I could have declined that order and made so much more money doing other orders in that time. So just like everyone else in the service industry, you get paid less than minimum wage and are at the mercy of people who may or may not tip you for your trouble.

It Can Be Dangerous

Do you know how many accidents I avoided? How many I almost didn’t notice? How many I almost caused if I didn’t catch my mistake in time? Constantly driving is dangerous, and if you were in my position (unemployed otherwise and lucky to have a boyfriend make the rest of the money for the bills), you have no choice.

I didn’t know this, but my car insurance company wouldn’t have covered me if I got into an accident while working because I didn’t include that in my plan (I was only covered for driving TO work, not driving FOR work), which would have made my insurance bill an extra $20. Luckily, I never got into an accident by the time I quit these delivery services. I was lucky. Especially since I’m driving in Florida, the worst place to be if you want to drive. No one knows how to drive around here. The main reason I quit these delivery jobs is because of the infamous I-4. You always see at least one accident, and at least two during rush hour.

If you are working for one of these delivery services, PLEASE go to your car insurance agent and make sure you are covered.

Trust is Not There

It is very easy to steal someone’s food if you work for Postmates. Once you reach the customer’s house, you could say you delivered it when you didn’t, or you could bullshit the app until you convince it that the “customer isn’t there” and so you can get free food that someone else paid for. This happened to a friend of mine while I was still actively working for Postmates, and he said he couldn’t even talk to anyone about it, losing his money. And once the order is considered “delivered,” you can’t contact the driver anymore.

And he was right. I went to the Postmates website. There is no phone number to call, not for customer service, nor for the Fleet members. All support is automated. They provide an email, and then the response you get is automated. You never get to speak to a real human person, whether you’re a customer, or a worker. I’ve never spoken to anyone within Postmates who might have been my superior or something, nothing, no one, I wasn’t even sure if they existed.

I had to contact Postmates because of a bug in the system one time. Multiple people got the same order for something, so when I got to the place to pick up the order, they said someone else already picked it up, and then were confused when I showed them the exact same order going to the same person. I couldn’t call Postmates because there is no phone number. I had to cancel the order, which gave me a warning saying I would be fired if I kept doing it. So I went to the website to see if I could email them about the situation, and got an automated response that didn’t even relate to what I was talking about.

This is very different from the three other delivery services I’ve worked for. GrubHub, Instacart, and Amazon Flex, while they also have their problems, at least have a human person you can speak to over the phone if you happened to be fucked over by a worker, or if you are a worker and need guidance.

Speaking of getting fired, if you’re rating is below 4.7 stars on average, you’re automatically fired, so you’re at the mercy of the customers to essentially decide if you get to keep the job, even though some of them might not know that and rate you three stars for being average. Or maybe they just don’t like your face, so they give you one star. It doesn’t matter how many successful deliveries you do, and there is no investigation, you just get terminated if you’re rating is too low. And it’s not like you can call someone from Postmates to defend yourself.

Then, there are the times where the food gets destroyed on the way to the customer’s house. It’s happened sometimes when I ordered food, and when I delivered. Sometimes the food just gets messed up on your way to the customer because of a bump in the road or something. I delivered someone’s Chinese food and their soup spilled all over inside the bag. I felt so bad and didn’t even notice it because it was in the lunch bag the whole time, I didn’t know it tipped over until it was too late, and then when that happens, it’s not like me or the customer has a human person to call for help, or a refund, or even a discount. I obviously didn’t get tipped for that one.

Lately, when trying to order from Postmates, it’s just gotten way too expensive. There’s a “small cart fee” now, so if you order something less than $15, you get charged an extra $2 or something like that. And then the delivery fee is just ridiculous sometimes, it’s the price of a whole other meal at worst, it’s just not worth it anymore.

And where do you think that delivery fee goes? Not to us drivers, that’s for sure. No, we just get $4, plus mileage from the restaurant to the customer, plus the tip you probably won’t get. And then you have to pay taxes on that still. I’ve had to drive 15-20-30 minutes to places to pick up food, only to drop it off five minutes away and get maybe $5 and no tip.

What Restaurants Have Told Me

Sometimes, restaurants would complain to me about Postmates. One time at a restaurant called Huey Magoo’s, they turned me away because they didn’t want to work with Postmates. I don’t know why, but that was weird. They were the only restaurant to do that in my experience.

A Chinese restaurant manager told me that the reason the food hadn’t even been started to be made yet is because they are used to the food never being picked up, wasting food and money. So they waited for me to get there to start making the food.

Other restaurants would be confused whenever Postmates provided something on their menu that the restaurant didn’t serve anymore, so some of Postmate’s menu items AND their prices are inaccurate, or outdated.

A Few Positives

This isn’t to say that there aren’t a few good things to come from Postmates. Assuming most of the drivers are decent, it’s convenient, it gives people a way to make some extra cash, and if you worked every day, you can essentially get paid every day. Postmates pays you about 5-7 days after you work for even one day, so if you work every day, you get money from the week before every day. That came in handy when I needed cash fast and always got at least $20 a day. And sometimes, the customer truly isn’t at the destination and you actually get a free meal out of it.

It’s also very freeing because you don’t have to schedule anything, you can just spontaneously work for a couple hours and see what you get. That’s what I liked the most about working for them, the freedom to be online and offline at any time for as little or as long as you want.

Conclusion

Job security is questionable, safety is not guaranteed (both for the customer, and the driver), and you really don’t make a lot of money unless you work on the busy days, and on those days, the market can get over saturated with other drivers.

All of these things combined with me being alone with my thoughts in the car for 8+ hours at least five days a week has done a number on my mental health. At least with GrubHub, as long as you choose your hours ahead of time and then work said hours, you’re guaranteed a salary. In case you don’t get enough orders, the company just makes up the difference.

Note: For transparency’s sake, I didn’t always do Postmates for that amount of hours, I combined it with GrubHub and then eventually Instacart and Amazon Flex, all together to work a full time schedule to make ends meet.

But I can’t say I feel comfortable suggesting Postmates to people, both for work or to order food. If you’re a customer, it’s too expensive. If you’re a driver, you don’t make a lot. You’re losing a lot of money either way, at least the way I see it.

What makes me think Postmates is sketchy is the lack of a human to talk to. Again, there is no customer service number, and when you email them, you get automated responses. And then after everything else I just talked about with how expensive it is to order, and then how little the drivers get, it just makes me suspicious. I’m probably not going to use them much anymore. Just doesn’t seem worth it.

What’s your experience with Postmates? Have you worked with them? If so, how did it work out for you?