…That DoorDash’s pay model—which has been in place since 2017—is still causing “confusion” among workers and indeed, even customers, is alarming. However, a survey of interviews with four current and former dashers as well as three former DoorDash corporate workers, emails to the company’s contractors, past marketing materials, screengrabs from a private dasher group on Facebook, and screenshots of the platform itself paint a picture of a system that’s confusing as if by design.
…An overarching criticism of the so-called “gig economy” at large—including services like Uber and Amazon Flex—is that wages often don’t account for some expenses necessary to do the job, such as gas, car payments, and wear and tear on drivers’ vehicles. For these kinds of jobs, the benefits don’t always outweigh the wages or risks of the work—and that’s not always immediately clear to workers. But DoorDash appears especially eager to bend truths about the reality of its service to further its ambitions, particularly in its messaging.
Prior to 2017, DoorDash’s system in most of its markets was to pay dashers a fixed rate per delivery, which varied depending on the city. Versions of the dasher website archived throughout 2016 indicate that could be anywhere from $5-7 per dash in San Diego, $8 per dash in San Francisco, $6 per dash in Seattle, or $5 per dash in Manhattan. The company did and continues to say that drivers are able to keep 100 percent of their earned tips. (This is also the law.)