Waitr adjusts driver pay, adds new GasCard program

Dive Brief:

  • Waitr has debuted a GasCard program that gives drivers 5% off on gas from all major gas stations and is adjusting driver pay to offset historically high gas prices, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive.
  • The release did not disclose how driver compensation would change. 
  • Waitr joins DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats, which have added driver incentives or adjusted service costs to try and offset the impact of rising gas prices. The average cost for gas has been at a record high for the past two weeks and has increased for the past 11 straight weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal

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Dive Insight:

Delivery drivers have been hit hard by skyrocketing gas costs, with prices at the pump experiencing their biggest month-to-month increases since 2014 when adjusted for inflation. If couriers are discouraged by gas prices enough to quit, it could affect the entire delivery ecosystem — from delivery firms to restaurants handling higher delivery volumes.  

This instability is driving aggregators to offer benefits that help drivers manage these costs. DoorDash added a gas rewards program this month with Payfare, offering drivers who have a DasherDirect debit card 10% cash back on gas. Additionally, drivers who complete more than 100 miles a week earn an extra $5, a benefit that increases on a sliding scale.

“We estimate that when combined, these two relief efforts should help offset the effects of increased prices at the pump,” DoorDash said in a blog post. The company’s relief programs will be in place at least through April.

Uber Eats has taken a different approach, passing high gas prices on to consumers. Last week, the company began charging customers fuel surcharges of $0.35 or $0.45 on Uber Eats orders. The surcharges, which will go directly to drivers and couriers, will be in place at least through May.

Both approaches carry some risks. Surcharges may turn off some consumers already fatigued over high delivery fees, and could also disincentivize tips. For DoorDash, some drivers have expressed grievances over the company’s 100-mile minimum, which could incentivize longer trips to reach the subsidy and negate a return on investment.

Grubhub may have found a compromise in raising pay for its drivers, but the increase is an unspecified amount designed to reflect regional prices, Bloomberg reports. Waitr’s across-the-board discount and pay adjustment may provide a sound solution for now, as it avoids passing more costs along to consumers who may be more price sensitive due to inflation. 

According to Chris Barnes, director of driver experience for Waitr’s delivery logistics, Waitr’s drivers are actually getting more tips now, perhaps signaling less sensitivity when costs aren’t passed along to them. 

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