No time for high fives: Grateful ChowNow sees somber sales surge as restaurants pushed to online ordering for survival

Takeout, curbside, no matter the name, nearly 50 Kansas City area restaurants are now serving it up to customers with support from food ordering app ChowNow. 

“We’re grateful that we’re in position to help, but it is also very scary for a lot of people out there and we need to recognize that,” Chris Webb, ChowNow CEO, explained of the company’s explosive growth amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, click here to read about ChowNow’s Kansas City office, opened in 2019. 

In an era of pandemic, corner restaurants around the world have quickly shifted their sales strategy, forced to embrace online ordering platforms in their fight for survival, Webb noted. 

“We typically bring on a few hundred restaurant clients per month and now we’re talking about thousands of restaurant clients per month,” he said, noting the demand has been overwhelming but gratifying. 

To keep up with such a sales volume, ChowNow has brought on temporary workers — many who have lost their jobs as a result of the health crisis, noted Candice Taylor, director of recruiting. 

Just shy of 20 temporary workers have joined ChowNow’s Kansas City team in recent weeks, Taylor said, noting some are family members of her colleagues.

“Everything’s in flux, but we need help and people need work and a paycheck,” Webb said of the decision to grow ChowNow’s team during unsteady economic times. 

The experience of reacting to the global health scare, overall, has been a sobering one for Webb and the 260-person ChowNow team. 

“In normal times, if the sales team signed up the amount of restaurants that are signing up now, there’d be high fives, congratulations and all these things. This is not the time for that,” he said, expressing gratitude for his team who is working 18-hour days, seven days a week in order to keep up with customer demand. 

Part of such delivery includes shifting roles, Webb added. 

“It feels like organized chaos right now,” he laughed. “But luckily for us, most of the people in our client-facing teams started at the company on our onboarding team. … When the numbers started to pick up and then eventually just spike, we quickly shifted as many people onto the onboarding team.”

The move ultimately doubled the size of the startup’s onboarding team in just a couple of days, Webb said, adding a new restaurant can now be live on the platform in a matter of days, whereas it took weeks before COVID-19 hit. 

“We’re doing demos and getting on the phone very early in the morning to very late at night and that includes on the weekends as well. … Our entire sales team is manning the phones. The best thing [a restaurant owner could do] is fill out the form on our website and you can expect to hear from us very quickly,” he said, noting the company hopes it can deliver impact to some of the nation’s hardest hit businesses. 

“The amount of restaurants that are just grateful these days is so touching to our team. We’re sharing a lot of internal quotes from clients that we’re hearing in restaurants being onboarded. They’re just grateful that we’re able to help, which is a good feeling.”

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Postmates couriers are employees, New York appeals court finds

  • An appeals court in New York has concluded that Postmates couriers are employees entitled to unemployment insurance (In re Vega, No. 13 (State of New York Court of Appeals, March 20, 2020)). 
  • Postmates, according the court, is a delivery business that uses a website and smartphone application to dispatch couriers to pick up goods from local restaurants and stores and deliver them to customers in cities across the United States. Couriers are required to undergo a background check before starting work and are paid 80% of the fees customers pay to Postmates; Postmates pays the couriers even when the fees are not collected from customers. 
  • The court concluded that “Postmates exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors operating their own businesses.” The company could not operate without the couriers, whose delivery assignments are controlled by Postmates. If a courier becomes unavailable, Postmates (rather than the courier, the court emphasized) finds a replacement. Additionally, “[t]he couriers’ compensation, which the company unilaterally fixes and the couriers have no ability to negotiate, are paid to the couriers by Postmates” and Postmates “bears the loss when customers do not pay.”

Learn what employers are doing today to cut healthcare costs, expand the use of paid leave, and change the benefits landscape overall.Access now

Dive Insight:

There’s no one, single test for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee, but the determination often comes down to how much control an employer exerts — or has the right to exert — over the person’s work and working conditions. The more control, the greater the likelihood (as in this case) the worker will be considered an employee.

The law in this area continues to evolve, generally in the direction of making independent contractor status more difficult to establish. In California, for example, a new worker classification test first adopted by the state supreme court was recently signed into law, the much-discussed and hotly debated AB-5. Companies that rely on gig workers, including Postmates, are working to challenge the law

The effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the economy is likely to increase the demand for gig workers as companies look to stay afloat with less reliance on the expense and relative inflexibility of a traditional workforce entitled to benefits and, increasingly, paid leave. ​Small employers are reportedly particularly concerned about the financial impact of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

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New York Court Rules That Postmates Couriers Are Employees — and Eligible for Unemployment

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that Postmates couriers are employees and therefore eligible for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The ruling is actually a reinstatement of a 2015 decision, which found that former Postmates courier Luis A. Vega was eligible for unemployment benefits after he was terminated from the service. Postmates had appealed the decision. The New York Court of Appeals this month reversed it, stating, “Because there was record support for the Board’s finding that the couriers were employees, we reverse the Appellate Division order and reinstate the Board’s decision.”

The ruling states there is “substantial evidence” that Postmates “exercised control over its couriers sufficient to render them employees rather than independent contractors operating their own businesses.” 

The document goes on to explain that the third-party delivery service “could not operate” without couriers, that Postmates “controls the assignment of deliveries,” and that if the courier is unavailable, Postmates, not the courier, is responsible for finding a replacement. Technology-wise, Postmates tracks deliveries in real time. However, “That the couriers retain some independence to choose their work schedule and delivery route does not mean that they have actual control over their work or the service Postmates provides its customers . . .”

All of these elements — which largely focus on how much control Postmates has over its workers — factored into the decision findings that Postmates couriers can be treated as employees, rather than contractors. 

How third-party delivery companies classifies their workers is a major issue up for debate right now, and this isn’t the first time Postmates has wound up with a ruling favorable to its workers. In December, the service, along with Uber, filed a lawsuit claiming California’s Assembly Bill 5, which classifies gig workers as employees, was unconstitutional. A U.S. District Judge rejected that bid last month.

The current COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the flame under this debate, as these workers are more at risk of infection by virtue of the fact that they are out and about delivering food when the huge swaths of country are being told to stay at home. Classifying gig workers as employees, rather than contractors, means couriers would have access to paid health benefits and sick leave. At the same time, the restaurant industry is experiencing a meltdown of epic proportions, with the National Restaurant Association predicting the loss of millions of restaurant-related jobs over the next few months. With no guarantee that there will be enough demand for delivery to ensure all couriers keep their jobs, those folks driving and biking food to customers need something of their own guarantee that they’ll have access to assistance if they lose their gigs. 

That, of course, means that services like Postmates would have to pony up and pay into unemployment insurance funds. In the case of this ruling, Postmates will have to contribute to New York’s Unemployment Insurance Fund. It’s entirely possible this decision will have a ripple effect, and Postmates along with other delivery services will wind up having to make similar moves in other states, too.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for thousands of gig workers across New York,” New York Attorney Letitia General James said in a statement. “The courts have solidified what we all have known for a while — delivery drivers are employees and are entitled to the same unemployment benefits other employees can obtain.” 

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Grubhub Catches Heat From Restaurants Over $10 Customer Discount

Many restaurants are mad about Grubhub Inc.’s (NYSE: GRUB) latest promotion, a $10 discount offered on all takeout or delivery orders totaling $30 or more placed between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. After opting in to the promotion, restaurants must absorb the cost of this sizable discount, while still paying normal commissions to Grubhub on the orders.

Grubhub launched the promotion, called Supper for Support, on March 27 to help diners save while using its delivery services during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As part of the program’s description, the delivery company says that the restaurants are “family” and remarks that the discount gives customers the opportunity of “supporting the restaurants you love.”

The fine print of the Supper for Support agreement specifies that the restaurants have to pay Grubhub its full commission on each order, ranging from 15% to 30%, based on the purchase total before the $10 discount is applied, rather than after. While restaurants can opt out of Supper for Support, a separate request must be sent for each location, with removal taking 48 hours.

Grubhub offers deferral of its commissions to independent restaurants that request it, though the time during which payment is deferred is determined solely by Grubhub itself. Opting into the program in the first place contractually requires restaurants to continue using Grubhub as a delivery service for 12 months after the date of requesting commission deferral.

Though joining Supper for Support is voluntary, restaurants are complaining that Grubhub is “profiteering” from dine-in facility closures. As a counterpoint, Grubhub spokesman John Collins stated participating businesses “have, on average, seen a more than 20 percent increase in the number of orders they have received as well as overall sales.” 

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Grubhub Asks Restaurants to Foot the Bill on ‘Supper for Support’ Promotions

A new Grubhub restaurant delivery promotion called “Supper for Support” isn’t quite so supportive as it sounds. The deal, a $10 discount to diners on Grubhub orders of $30 or more from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m daily, is advertised to customers as a way to “save while supporting the restaurants you love,” a means of financially fueling the many food businesses across the country that now rely solely on delivery and pickup orders, with their dining rooms closed by government orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Supper for Support savings don’t come from Grubhub, as fine print on the promotion clarifies. The price of the discount falls instead to the restaurants that customers are being asked to assist.

“I also understand and agree that (a) Restaurant will fund the full cost of redeemed Promotions, and (b) Grubhub commissions may be charged on the non-discounted product total rather than the amount paid by the customer,” the promotion agreement clarifies.

“Wow this is fucked up even for Grubhub,” tweeted John deBary, organizer of the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, a service worker-focused nonprofit.

A Grubhub email to restaurants announcing the Supper for Support program makes clear that they — not Grubhub — will be paying for the discounts, should they opt-in. “We’ll take care of the marketing — you cover the cost of promotions only on the orders you receive,” the email explains. Whether customers know it or not, that’s the usual for such promotions, a Grubhub representative says.

“Grubhub is always looking for ways to increase sales for its independent restaurant partners, especially during these critical and challenging times,” a Grubhub spokesperson tells Eater. “The optional Supper and Support effort does exactly that. In fact, local restaurants that chose to participate in the optional initiative have, on average, seen a more than 20 percent increase in the number of orders they have received as well as overall sales.”

But doing some back of the delivery receipt math, restaurants could lose out on this deal, depending on the average size of the restaurant’s orders, and how much they’ve chosen to pay for their “marketing commission” (essentially the greater percentage of every order that restaurants kick back to GrubHub, the higher they appear in search results).

Assuming an average $60 order and a 20 percent marketing commission, plus 10 percent for the delivery commission — a total 30 percent commission to GrubHub — a restaurant would make roughly $42 on each order, or roughly $420 on 10 orders. Under Supper for Support, the restaurant would still pay 30 percent of $60, but would also eat the $10 promotional cost, bringing their revenue down to $32 per order; assuming a 20 percent bump in sales, the restaurant nets $384 on 12 orders, or less than they would’ve made without the promotion.

That sounds more like restaurants supporting Grubhub than the other way around.

It’s no secret that restaurants have been critical of Grubhub for some time now. In a class action lawsuit filed in January restaurants alleged that Grubhub was charging restaurants extraneous fees for phone calls placed through proxy numbers set up through Grubhub. Later, the company drew criticism for adding restaurants to its platform without their knowledge or consent — a practice that confused restaurants, customers, and delivery couriers alike.

But now that many restaurants depend on third-party delivery systems for their survival, can their relationship be healed? Grubhub has gestured toward good-faith efforts of support, but has yet to deliver substantive assistance. The company announced it would defer collection of up to $100 million in commissions amidst the COVID-19 crisis — but that only applies to marketing commission fees, while fine print terms and conditions include agreeing to keep Grubhub as a delivery service for one year after signing onto the program.

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OpenTable partners with Deliveroo and UberEats for restaurant food at home

Global online restaurant reservations company OpenTable is partnering with delivery aggregators to offer delivery options at restaurants across the UK.

The company has partnered with Deliveroo and UberEats to enable diners to select and order a restaurant-quality meal and have it delivered direct to their door. This, it says, gives diners the opportunity to continue supporting their favourite restaurants while bringing a much-needed additional revenue source to the restaurant. 

When searching for a restaurant or visiting a restaurant profile page on OpenTable’s app or via website, diners will now see a ‘Get a delivery’ button alongside the usual table reservation option. Those who choose delivery are then directed to either the Deliveroo or UberEats site to complete their transaction.

The partnership will allow restaurants to offer delivery options through OpenTable in countries including Australia, Mexico, Ireland, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, through the OpenTable app and via its desktop site.

The company says the launch will see more than 3,000 restaurants offer delivery through OpenTable.

The global launch follows the introduction of the delivery feature with UberEats and other local partners in the US and Canada last year.

“Restaurants are a vital part of our communities, and we hope these partnerships will help support restaurants with additional revenue sources and give diners access to restaurant quality meals to enjoy at home during these difficult times,” says OpenTable COO Andrea Johnston.

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Uber Eats turns to grocery deliveries to fill pandemic-shaped hole in its business

Uber Eats is launching a series of partnerships with supermarkets, convenience stores, and other businesses to offer home deliveries of essential items, Reuters reports. In France, the company is partnering with supermarket chain Carrefour to offer deliveries from 15 of its Paris stores. The Financial Times reports that it’s also working with Galp in Spain to deliver items from 25 petrol station convenience stores, and in Brazil it’s offering deliveries from local pharmacies, pet shops, and convenience stores.

This isn’t an entirely new initiative from Uber, which TechCrunch notes trialled similar partnerships in Australia and the UK last year, but it’s fast-tracking the plans as other areas of its business suffer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber is facing a huge drop in demand for its existing services, as people cut down on non-essential travel and many restaurants are forced to closeThe Financial Times notes that Uber CEO Dara Khasrowshahi recently said the company was looking for “alternative use cases” for the company’s pool of drivers.

In Paris, Uber is promising to deliver groceries from Carrefour in as little as 30 minutes. Customers can place orders through its app or over the phone. The service is not meant to compete with traditional supermarket delivery services, but instead will offer a smaller selection of essential food items as well as hygiene and cleaning products. In Paris, the service is due to launch on April 6th, and delivery fees will be waived throughout the rest of the month. As well as its partnership with Uber Eats, Carrefour has also partnered with Spanish start-up Glovo.

It’s already possible to order grocery items in some locations using Uber Eats. But there are large disparities in what you can get in different areas since the service tends to be offered from independent local stores. Partnerships with larger chains like Carrefour would create a more uniform offering.

Uber Eats isn’t the only food delivery service that’s expanding into groceries. In the UK, Reuters notes that Deliveroo is offering to deliver essential grocery items, and has also announced a partnership with Marks & Spencer convenience stores and Co-op supermarkets.

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Delivery platforms see slower sales growth amid COVID-19 outbreak

Uber Eats delivery
Photo: Uber Eats

03.31.2020By Sam Danley

KANSAS CITY — Consumer dollars are shifting as restaurants close for in-store consumption and switch to off-premises only. Online grocery and meal kit delivery platforms are seeing a surge in orders.

Demand for foodservice delivery has so far been a mixed bag.

Some of the largest delivery providers, including Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates and Grubhub, have declined in growth since February, according to Earnest Research, a data analytics company providing insights on consumer spending behaviors. The company examines credit and debit card spending of millions of anonymous US consumers.

Year-over-year growth across all four platforms was 16% for the week ended March 16, down from 21% the week before and 26% the week ended March 2. Positive year-over-year growth at Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates was down from previous weeks. Growth at Uber Eats was down 3% from a year ago.

“Decelerating delivery aggregator spend growth is likely due to increases in grocery spend offsetting restaurant delivery spend,” said Michael Maloof, associate director, consumer brand insights, at Earnest Research.

Demand for delivery has varied during the outbreak, Matt Maloney, chief executive officer at Grubhub, told Market Watch.

“In some markets it’s staying stable, some are doing much better, and others are slowing,” he said. “It’s not obvious how it will impact business in the long term as the supply of restaurants are transitioning.”

He added that as many as 30% of restaurants could close during the outbreak due to the cost of maintaining off-premises capabilities.

Uber Eats said demand has been highest in hard-hit areas.

“The impact has varied widely city-by-city and country-by-country, but cities like Seattle and San Francisco have seen an uptick in food delivery requests,” said Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, head of Uber Eats.

More restaurants offer delivery

The number of restaurants offering delivery has surged in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Grubhub and Uber Eats have received up to 10 times their usual restaurant leads.

“In the United States and Canada, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of restaurants looking to offer delivery as dine-in has been restricted—including a 10 times increase in self-sign-ups,” Mr. Gore-Coty said.

Delivery companies are moving to help struggling restaurant partners.

Grubhub delayed fee collections “for the foreseeable future.” Uber Eats waived delivery fees for more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the United States and Canada.

“We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns — both in-app and via email — to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app,” said Janelle Sallenave, head of Uber Eats, United States and Canada. “To help to create a more reliable and immediate source of cash flow, even in uncertain times, we’re rolling out a new payment option for restaurants. This new feature will allow restaurants of all sizes to opt into daily payments on all Uber Eats orders, rather than the typical weekly billing cycle.”

DoorDash suspended commissions for independent restaurants through the end of April. It also waived commission fees on pickup orders for all existing partners and added additional commission reductions for some merchants. It earmarked up to $20 million in merchant marketing programs to generate more revenue for restaurants already on the platform.

Postmates launched a pilot program that temporarily waived commission fees for small businesses in the San Francisco Bay area.

Adding drivers, improving safety

Restaurants and delivery companies have introduced several new safety measures, including tamper-proof packaging, to reduce health risks for drivers and consumers. No contact drop offs are now the default delivery method for all four third-party platforms.

Restaurants that specialize in off-premises services, including Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, have added no-contact deliveries. They also are hiring thousands of new workers to meet increased demand for delivery.

Papa John’s and Domino’s announced plans to bring on an additional 10,000 new restaurant team members. Pizza Hut is speeding up its hiring process to fill 30,000 new positions. New drivers can now be on the road in as little as five hours, the company said.

Finding drivers in hard-hit areas hasn’t been a problem for Grubhub,  Mr. Maloney said.

“The delivery market for drivers is really good,” he said. “I was concerned there would be a lot of attrition, but I think drivers are looking to replace lost income.”

Free delivery

A growing number of restaurant chains are offering free delivery.

Chipotle partnered with Uber Eats to waive delivery fees for orders over $10. McDonald’s eliminated delivery fees until April 6 on orders of more than $15 through DoorDash and Uber Eats. Burger King and Wendy’s are offering free delivery on orders of $10 or more through Grubhub and Postmates.

Taco Bell waived delivery fees on Grubhub orders exceeding $12. Dunkin’, KFC and El Pollo Loco also announced free delivery through the platform. Carl’s Jr. waived delivery fees through Postmates.

Denny’s, Noodles and Co., Pieology, Chili’s, Wingstop, and IHOP are just some of the companies offering free delivery through their website or mobile app.

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Grubhub’s $10 off promo forces restaurants to front the discount costs while being charged full commission

Grubhub announced last week that, between the hours of 5 to 9 PM, customers could order takeout or delivery through its platform and receive $10 off orders of $30 or more. It sounds like a good deal, until you realize that while Grubhub is promoting the offer on behalf on restaurants, it’s also contractually forcing those business owners to eat the cost of that discount for every eligible order. (Disclosure: my parents are restaurant owners that list their business on Grubhub / Seamless.)

Under Grubhub’s Supper for Support program terms and conditions, the fine print says that while restaurants must opt into the program, they also have to agree to fund the $10 discounts — or roughly 30 percent off the cost of one order if the customer just meets the $30 minimum. On top of that, they must allow Grubhub to charge them commission for the total cost of the order before the discount. The full agreement is here, but the key passage reads:

I also understand and agree that (a) Restaurant will fund the full cost of redeemed Promotions, and (b) Grubhub commissions may be charged on the non-discounted product total rather than the amount paid by the customer.

If the business owners want to opt out, they have to send in a form for every location if the restaurant has multiple locations, and wait two days for processing.

Though Grubhub is upfront with businesses about the terms, the move is being criticized as an attempt to profiteer from business partners that are struggling under the nationwide measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Restaurants have been forced by these measures to indefinitely close or to reduce their service to takeout and delivery only. To continue operating, businesses have had to rely on online services like Grubhub, Doordash, Caviar, Postmates, and UberEats to assist with orders and deliveries, although many restaurants are urging customers to help them avoid fees by ordering direct. (Grubhub says it will postpone charging commission fees to independent restaurants in select cities, but will eventually still collect them at an undisclosed time.)

Helen Rosner@hels

Grubhub strongarming client restaurants into giving customers a discount, but charging restaurants their platform commission fee on the pre-discount total. Totally cool, not dickish, not predatory in a time of crisis at all. A++ @Grubhub nice work, totally defensible https://twitter.com/jnd3001/status/1244639770564755461 …John deBary@jnd3001Wow this is fucked up even for grubhub https://lp.grubhub.com/supper-for-support-terms-conditions-4-15-f/ …2,82212:56 PM – Mar 30, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy1,301 people are talking about this

When reached for comment, Grubhub told The Verge the promotion is helping boost sales for restaurants. “Grubhub is always looking for ways to increase sales for its independent restaurant partners, especially during these critical and challenging times. The optional Supper and Support effort does exactly that. In fact, local restaurants that chose to participate in the optional initiative have, on average, seen a more than 20 percent increase in the number of orders they have received as well as overall sales,” a spokesperson said. The company did not elaborate on why it has chosen to pass on the discount costs to restaurants while also billing commission fees on the non-discounted total.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry with no end in sight, leaving restaurants with few options. Though the US has passed a federal loan program to help keep small businesses afloat, loanees are still expected to pay the money back with interest. Provisions for loan forgiveness include rehiring full-time employees by June — a seemingly difficult task in states hardest hit by the pandemic like New York, New Jersey, California, and Washington.

Grubhub’s Supper for Support promo comes days after Yelp was also criticized by restaurant owners for using the crisis as a PR move. The online reviews site last week began setting up GoFundMe campaigns for small businesses, but failed to inform or receive consent from those businesses. Both Grubhub and Yelp have been in hot waters over the past year after employing various tactics to upcharge businesses commission, from creating fake domains that resemble real restaurants, listing restaurants that haven’t yet agree to partner, and swapping out phone numbers for Grubhub-affiliated ones to bill higher commissions.

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Delivery demand amid coronavirus prompts workers to walk out, disrupting operations

As grocery outlets and retailers across the country ramp up employment to keep up with demand during the coronavirus outbreak, they’re facing growing backlash from workers who say their lives are being put at risk. 

Instacart workers staged a walkout Monday, citing a list of demands including hazard pay, an extra $5 per order, and an extension of paid sick leave. In Staten Island, New York, nearly 100 Amazon (AMZN) workers at the facility known as JFK8 went on strike, urging the tech giant to “cease all operations” until additional safety measures are put in place for employees.

On Tuesday, Whole Foods Market employees plan to take part in a nationwide “sick out” urging the company to guarantee hazard pay and proper sanitation equipment, among a list of demands.

statement released by Gig Workers Collective, the group organizing the Instacart walkout said, “Instacart has turned this pandemic into a PR campaign, portraying itself as the hero of families that are sheltered-in-place, isolated, or quarantined,” and adding that, “They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.”

Growing worker discontent threatens to disrupt online delivery operations that have become lifelines amid government-mandated stay at home orders across the country. Amazon has already announced that it is hiring 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers to deal with a surge in online orders. Instacart’s order volume has grown by more than 150% year-over-year, according to company figures. It has called for an additional 300,000 “full service shoppers” in the next 3 months, hailing its workers as “household heroes for families, grandparents, and people in need.”

But some current workers say the platform’s treatment has been far from heroic. 

Rosa Mendoza began delivering for Instacart part-time this month, after the San Francisco Bay Area’s mandatory shelter-in-place order drastically reduced her rideshare bookings for Uber (UBER). She was optimistic about her prospects, after hearing about the huge demand for grocery deliveries. Instead, she says, long lines at the stores have slowed the number of batches or deliveries she can complete in a day, limiting her earnings. With little safety protection, Mendoza says the risks have started to weigh on her.

“They don’t give us any mask or cloth or disinfectant. They don’t give us anything,” Mendoza said. “But I have to work because I have to pay my rent.”

Instacart paints a more lucrative picture for shoppers, saying their earnings have jumped by more than 40% month-over-month because of increased demand. The company has also laid out additional safety measures, in response to worker concerns, including working with a third party to manufacture hand sanitizers for Instacart shoppers. It has also extended sick pay benefits to part-time employees that can be used for illness or injury and introduced a tip default setting, so completed orders default to the customer’s last top amount, instead of the 5% default previously.

“Our team has had an unwavering commitment to prioritize the health and safety of the entire Instacart community,” said Nilam Ganenthiran, the President of Instacart, in a statement. “Our teams will continue to operate with a sense of urgency on creative solutions to help ensure Instacart shoppers have access to health and safety supplies as quickly as possible.”

The company added, that the walkout had little impact on its operations Monday, citing a 40% surge in shoppers on the platform, compared to the same time last week.

Employee concerns haven’t been limited to Instacart and Amazon. Many Uber and Lyft (LYFTemployees have parked their cars, concerned about contracting the coronavirus from passengers. Those like Saori Okawa, an Uber driver in San Francisco, switched over to food delivery with Postmates and DoorDash, after stay-at-home orders led to a spike in online orders.

She used to bring $200 home for a 12-hour day with Uber. Now she makes less than that, working for two separate platforms. While both DoorDash and Postmates have offered “no-contact” deliveries in response to the virus outbreak, Okawa said restaurant pick-up windows remained crowded, with no adherence to the Centers for Disease Control’s 6-feet-apart social distancing rules.

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