DoorDash worker Rondu Gantt poses for a portrait in downtown San Francisco. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken July 5, 2022.

With 59 percent of the U.S. meal-delivery market under its control, there’s a good chance that the person who delivers your lunch today will be working for DoorDash. But unlike the distant, inscrutable algorithm that rules their schedules, DoorDash drivers remain all too human. 

Take Rondu Gantt, a San Francisco DoorDash worker and graduate of University of California, Berkeley, whom Mission Local followed for a day of deliveries. Over the course of just a few hours, the silence of the app put him on edge; with a few good orders, his mood flipped to optimistic. To start, he had a strategy to win, but soon, he discarded the strategy and made a mad dash for cash.

“This job is not for people who are scared,” Gantt said. “If you’re scared of getting hurt, you shouldn’t do this.”

This is an app that, with its gamified elements, for many drivers can become a psychological gauntlet, challenging their decision-making abilities, pride, and sense of self, to be better able to work for the platform. “Incorporating game-based aspects could assist digitally engaged gig workers to become more intrinsically driven,” according to a study on the impact of gamification. 

And that it did, but not exactly in a way that was exciting. Gantt isn’t playing a game; he’s trying to pay his bills. When he started his shift at 11:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, he was neither scared nor anxious. “My driving is insane, insanely good,” said Gantt, weaving through San Francisco’s traffic as smoothly as Bach’s “Partita No. 3 in E major,” which played in his silver Toyota sedan. 

He left his bedroom in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood late, but he still had four hours until the lunch shift ended at 3:30 p.m. He could make $50, he guessed; $90 would be ideal.

After a short period, Gantt received his first order of the day: $7.75, but no tip. Without hesitating, he clicked “Decline.” 

Gantt often rejects unsuitable orders, quickly taking into account the size of the tip, the risk of getting a ticket for double parking, and the safety of the neighborhood. For him, being selective signals his independence from the platform.

“I have to fight these companies,” he said. “I can’t let them act with impunity.” 

Gantt took the second order and others that followed. Even in the best of times, he still had to worry about parking, always finite and expensive in San Francisco, and whether a parking control officer might materialize to give him a ticket. If the restaurant he entered was busy, he might lose 20 minutes to a single delay. The contingencies meant that every order presented its own dilemma: Was he missing a better one?

At 12:55 p.m., Gantt walks in the Mission District, San Francisco. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken July 5, 2022.

But worst of all was the constant anxiety over whether another order would come.

By about 1 p.m., Gantt had filled only two orders: one from Philz Coffee and one from KFC. Worried about getting more, he entered an area marked red on the DoorDash map, an indicator of strong demand. Nonetheless, his phone remained stubbornly silent. 

By 1:32 p.m., Gantt had made only $30.63 on three rides. The total included customer tips and a base pay. According to research by the University of California, Santa Cruz, tips account for almost 40 percent of a Dasher’s estimated earnings. 

In time, as the incriminating silence of the app stretched on, Gantt began to blame himself. Was the app ignoring him, he asked, “because I didn’t take every order?” 

In fact, he was doing exactly what drivers are advised to do: To reject orders lower than $2 per mile. “You have every right to decline an order, and your driver rating won’t suffer if you do,” advises a guide to Dashers composed by the gig worker service app Gridwise. “Most drivers believe that $3 or more is ideal.” 

With fuel prices rising, turning down subpar orders has become a trend, with some Dashers even turning down nine out of 10 orders, according to Business Insider.

Still, Gantt started to panic. After a brief drive through Japantown and Fillmore, areas that are traditionally packed with orders, Gantt pulled over to save gas. He reclined in his seat, grabbed his Kindle, and tried to pick up his place in a book about the “Irish contribution to preserving western history.” It failed to work. He couldn’t focus. He stared at his phone, jumped out of the car, and stopped by a familiar pedicure shop, but was not in the mood.

Instead, he repeatedly rebooted the DoorDash app, hoping that the lack of new orders was simply a software or phone issue. It wasn’t. 

By 2 p.m., Gantt had taken another order for $11.50 that included a $6 tip, but after declining two orders, one to the most congested part of the city (First Street), the other “disrespectfully” not offering a tip, his phone fell silent again.

He picked up his Kindle. Then quickly set it down. “It’s not forever!” he began to mumble to himself. “It’s not forever! … We are close enough to get some orders … Told you, $50 is realistic. … I’m okay. I’m not crying.”

A few minutes before the lunch shift ended at 3:30 p.m., Gantt became even more disheartened. 

“The city is gonna become a more ruthless place,” he said.

“They choose the winners and losers,” he said referring to DoorDash  “Now, they expect me to quit. Too many people will quit at this rate.” 

DoorDash’s algorithm limits the amount of workers that can be online at the same time; at 3:30 p.m., it kicked Gantt off. His total earnings for the four hours: $42.13, or $10.53 an hour. The minimum wage in San Francisco is $16.99.  

At 5:10 p.m., Gantt takes a nap before the dinner shift kicks off. Photo by Yujie Zhou. Taken July 5, 2022.

Gantt, 37, is all too familiar with being kicked out. His youthful fantasies of the dazzling lives he saw on television — professional wrestler, rapper, and film director — ended abruptly when his single mother kicked him out of his Queens home at the age of 19. “I come from a background where … not going to jail and being a productive member of society was kind of like the baseline,” he said.

He proved resilient, relocating to the West Coast and, by his mid-20s, graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in rhetoric.

“Everyone thought I was gonna be like the next Obama or some shit. I never believed in that,” he said.

A decade later, Gantt views his time at Berkeley as the outlier years of his life. “I just accidentally wound up going to Berkeley. It was never something that was planned,” said Gantt. 

The “new kind of life” Gantt hoped a degree would give him never materialized. He “applied to everything” that suited his educational background and intellectual ability, but his most stable work came as a teacher for more than two years. He quit his last job teaching math in Oakland after six months. “I didn’t feel protected,” he said. “There were no men, there were no Black teachers other than me. You notice people giving you a hard time for no reason, and you’re like, ‘how long am I gonna last with this?’”

If Gantt’s story of being a college graduate without a stable job might seem exceptional, in truth, it’s typical. Almost 40 percent of delivery workers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to research by UC Santa Cruz. 

Gantt has been a gig worker for four years, and while it has its difficult days, he feels somewhat sheltered from the racism he experienced in “so-called predictable jobs,” he said. “That’s why I do this. This is the longest run I’ve ever had at a job for years.” 

He earns his primary income, about $4,000 per month, from Lyft, but when his horn stopped working a few days earlier, he switched to DoorDash, an occasional extra gig he had done between Lyft rides and one that he did well at. Once he gets his horn fixed, he said, he will return to Lyft. 

Instead of protecting him, however, on this Tuesday the DoorDash algorithm felt like it was pushing him around, he said. 

To take command, he changed his strategy during the dinner shift. “Early in the hour, I’ll wait for something good. After 30 minutes, I’ll do anything that’s decent.”

He started again at 5:17 p.m., and after a run through Safeway to buy groceries for a customer, Gantt had made $22.75 by 6:08 p.m., more than half of his haul from the entire lunch shift.

Gantt’s mood shifted. He tapped the Toyota’s brakes to the rhythm of Bach, and even gave a small lecture on the music. 

New orders, however, failed to follow.

“I’m assuming that, because of my rational acceptance rate, that they’re deciding to not give me the choice hours or the choice deliveries,” said Gantt. Nobody could test his hypothesis. But when the next order finally came at 6:37 p.m., Gantt took it without hesitation. 

That became his new strategy. An order came, he accepted it. Discernment and criteria went out the window. His pace quickened. He drove four miles for $12 bucks, jaywalked against a red light and, by the time the light turned green again, he had picked up his order and dashed back to the car.

As his take reached $62 by 7:46 p.m., the lighthearted Gantt returned, making jokes about drivers who hold their wheels at 12 o’clock. 

Things couldn’t be going better. 

By 9:10 p.m., 10 minutes after the end of his four-hour dinner shift, Gantt had earned $87.50, or $21.88 an hour. And the new orders still came. DoorDash had granted him the ultimate boon; he’d been approved to work overtime!

The third shift of the day lasted until 10:11 p.m. and brought him another $27.50. 

By the end of the day, his total gross: $157.13, or $14.28 an hour. Still below the minimum wage, but nonetheless, Gantt was feeling up. 

He wants, he said, to someday start a small business and meet a smart wife. “I’m amazing with kids; my kids would be the best-adjusted kids that you probably ever met,” he said. 

“But the thing is, I need an opportunity.”

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REPORTER. Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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  1. Same situation here. Exceptional rates, been with them a long time and I sit and watch other dashers make money. Support won’t even talk to me anymore. They either hang up or ignore me. Mine started immediately after noticing missing tips.

  2. It is actually untrue that doordashers do not get punished for declining an order; their rating suffers. And if you cancel an order after accepting it but don’t even pick it up, they will punish you. Doordash is the worst slave drivers ever.

  3. I think your story is accurate as to the diminished bald spot delivery guy versus the teenager with similar skills. Driving requires a person that is self motivated, alert, and not prone to errors with mobile/gps/food service.. You are basically a waiter for many restaurants as well as a valet and taxi driver. To defend/protect yourself and not have narcolepsy or alcoholism is for sure required…

    I think drivers should get 5000-30000 additionaly per year in commercial advertising,running/cargo-job site consulting, and motorsport;autosport,autoparts delivery,roadside side assist fee…too don’t forget to charge the $50 if you have to deliver them $5 worth of fuel at some odd hour or jump off a stranded motorist per thier request. I don’t think you should require they pay but you should require yourself to tell them how much they should pay you in such a way as if you might rip a leather seat if you don’t get it kind of sales grimace . I don’t believe in leaving a dead car walking after assisting someone in person you shouldn’t be afraid to say 20 or 50 bucks if someone needs you to save them the wrecker bill or citations… eat ect… busy gtg

  4. Guy needs to get out to the suburbs. I only DD during my (long) lunch break from my boring remote regular job, and I can make $30-40 an hour. The only requirement is it has to be more than $1/mile. Also, I fortunately have access to an EV, so I don’t worry about gas, but I know that’s not widespread for people yet. But it really helps!

  5. I also door dash. I’m top dasher in my area most months and if you decline orders your acceptance rate will go down. Once it does you will not get a lot of orders. I usually make around 500.00 a week which is awesome living in a small rural town. Good luck and keep your head up.

  6. This guy has no idea what he is doing honestly. If you are just showing up, hoping to get a slot without scheduling your drive days in advance you aren’t going to get prime money. Schedule your Dash up to 6 days in advance and you can dash all day, not just a few hours. Also, if you are worried about tickets or parking fees, dash someplace else. Nobody is forcing you to dash where you live. You can dash in any zone. Declining certain orders is about the only thing this guy is doing right. I never accept any order that will not pay me more in $ than the miles I drive to deliver. My rule is on every DD order, the customer should tip the amount of miles they are from the restaurant. If you live 10 miles or more away, you need to add $3 extra for every multiple of 10 miles. If you think that is excessive, get off your lazy asses and get the order yourself. I don’t work for you. Finally, the author mentioned that 40% of a dashers income is from tips. If this is happening to you, and you are a dasher, you too don’t know what you are doing. Taking orders like that, you are doing nobody a favor but DD and your customers. Every week 65 to 70 percent or more of my pay comes from tips. If I did not achive this, I failed, which hasn’t happened in the last 2 years of dashing.

    1. Tim, you wrote “ If you think that is excessive, get off your lazy asses and get the order yourself. I don’t work for you.”

      Ummm, yes you do. You are an Independent Contractor. DoorDash is not your employer. If they were, you would be fired the first time you refused to make a delivery. DoorDash is simply a middle man that generates leads. You ABSOLUTELY work for the customers. They hire you to go pick up whatever it is they want and bring it to them, because they don’t wanna do the WORK of fetching it.

      1. Roberto you wrote, “You ABSOLUTELY work for the customers”, and to that I point you to the one word you missed in the independent contractor portion of the lesson. Drivers are “indepedent”. They don’t work for doordash nor do they work for the customer. They pick up an order and drop off an order. They are not beholden to doordash or the customer. If the order is wrong, customer contacts doordash, not the driver (even though they try to for some reason). The driver decides to enter into a contract with doordash on behalf of a restaurant to deliver to the specified restaurants customer, within the confines of the provided instructions. Please don’t assume that drivers work for you, they don’t. They work for themselves, ie independent.

    1. Uh, Chuck. There are better ways to name yourself on this public site (which is crawling with Bots).

  7. I ride a bike (non-electric) for Door Dash. Because I have a part time job (working for a nonprofit) with split shifts (AM and afternoon) , I only work lunch times and early dinners. I used to make about $120/ week. This was still only about minimum wage but with my regular job and my Social Security (over 65 now) I could afford to live in San Francisco. However, now I’m lucky to make $30/week. I do all the right things: work at peak times, go to “Hot Spots” on the map and almost never turn down a delivery. I’ve talked to other cyclists who – like me – are experienced bike messengers. The same thing is happening to them: fewer deliveries and lower prices per delivery. We suspect Door Dash is discriminating against bikers; we’re the people who are not polluting the air and are keeping gas costs down for drivers. And in most SF neighborhoods, we’re faster than cars and usually as fast as electric bikes. I’ve called Door Dash but they claim they’re not discriminating against cyclists. I’ve contacted a couple law firms but they’re only interested in the independent contractor issue.

  8. Doordash does do mind tricks with you. I’ve been driving for 2 n half years. They say keep your acceptance up to 50 and you will receive 2 dollar per mile deliverys over other dashers. This is incorrect. How is 3.25 for 6 miles one way that? In fact most of my orders are no tip orders. I made 29,000 last year dashing only was able to write off 17000 in expenses gas mileage work done on my car. I work 7 days a week 12 hr days. Minimum wage here hasn’t changed in 20 years. It’s 7 a hr. Rent is 1200 a month I can’t even afford to live alone.

  9. I doordash full time.
    Some days suck, some days are awesome!
    But I make my $200+ a day.
    $1400 a week.
    Just got to be smart and push yourself.
    Know where the popular pick up spots are. Don’t drive around looking for an order. Sit, stop wasting gas. Wait for the order to come to you.
    Some days I don’t have time to sit for a short break. Some times I sit for an hour (and no, you don’t get reimbursed for $15 seriously???)
    Don’t take nothing under $5 or anything that pays less then the miles.

    1. Know your merchants, know your zones, know your general crowd of customers that your delivering to, know the platform and the little glitches for it can make you more without doing more, GET to know the employees and build a rapport (get prioritized and if not, at the least not deprioritized ), know the platform and how the logistics work , finally…. know when to share the love especially for the bigger tips that generally take awhile bc of the crowd therefore if you tip 5 of your 20 $…. you may only have to wait 5 mins vs the average 30 like everyone else since time is of the utmost essential in this industry…

      When you master all the above, anyone that isn’t making almost 2k a week right at 4o hours a week is clearly not doing all the above…. keep in mind there are a few more things i haven’t mentioned but that’s only bc it’s a inside trade secret that would cost the people that do know anywhere from 200+ extra a week if i let i said it aloud (took me months to achieve but that was my average minimum for 9 week experiment)

      Keep your head up and times will get better.. but only you can determine how much you want it and how much you’re willing to grind to get it

  10. it always amazes me in these articles/analyses there is no accounting for automotive costs .. maintenance, insurance, wear n tear ..

    there is no way folks are even earning min wage ..

    1. And you clearly don’t have a proper understanding of the tax code, both Federal and State. It’s known as deductible expenses. In other words, dashers pay a fraction of the taxes that W2 employees pay.

      1. Oh my god…you seriously cannot be that dense? So they deduct .65 cents per mile driven…that is not nearly enough to reimburse you for gas used and wear and tear on your car…PLUS the accelerated rate of depreciation…your car is an asset with value and the quicker you pile the miles on, the quicker it depreciates…that is not something that is adequately compensated in the tax deduction…Also, the employers pay roughly HALF of the W-2 employees tax liabilities (FICA, FUTA, plus local payroll taxes) whereas a gig worker is responsible for ALL of it…so you really need to research before you go making inaccurate statements on the internet…

  11. I’ve been doing this for 4 years also. This job has had a lot of upside and downs. We are starting to struggle since the beginning of gas prices hike. It’s difficult some days and some days are good. We do survive off tips. I wish they would cut down the delivery radius. I had a delivery that took me about 40 miles the other day. Their base pay is really low to do these trips.

  12. Tip your drivers don’t be cheap. But I like the story and I’m in the same boat it’s a daily grind as a Blackman in the city of Portland I’m looking for the best opportunity I have. Keep going hard and don’t ever let am stop your grind friend. God bless

  13. Door dash doesn’t pay you crap and they know it. They understand as a business that there always going to have people to complete orders so they don’t and won’t need to pay the driver more.

  14. I think you guys are forgetting when you don’t get orders for an hour you get paid $15 for that hour. And for every hour he was working and didn’t make $15 that hour he will be reimbursed whatever it takes to bring it up to $15 an hour. I don’t think you have to be a college graduate to figure out the algorithm.

    1. You don’t even know what you are talking about. You only get paid for active hours, not the hours you are online. So if you are sitting in your car an d waiting for an order you are not getting paid, but if you take any small order that doesn’t make sense but you maximized your active time to 8 hours out of 10 you were online, you will be reimbursed for 8 hours if you didn’t make enough. So yea his strategy is not good and he is playing a victim but you don’t get paid to just sit in your car

      1. California is, I believe, the only state that forces gig-apps to pay minimum wage for “active hours”. I have been a Dasher in Illinois since about a year before the pandemic. It was the best thing that ever happened in my life… But then about midway through the pandemic, everyone and their grandma started Dashing and it made people stop tipping because we were competing with ourselves and more than half the new Dashers were taking just the highest tippers and doing it badly. Now I hate dashing and I’m waiting for a time when the job market stabilizes and I can go back to making good money as a “professional delivery service” which is a job that is suited to me, not just a convenience to make “extra money” via vulturing.

  15. This is just my experience with doordash not talking shit .and I guess invite people from Frisco down to Oakland stop being scared.safeway order come in all day long and most are 20_30 bucks each I can honestly say I can earn 30!an hour if I complete my schedule dash.of course dash during normal times busy times hella people be out there .there’s good orders out there .but it is frustrating.the shopping,the long hours driving,unupdated address by customer,some order for work and home but forget to update to where they at at the time of ordering,many flights of stairs..for me it works out fine ,I rather be in some way my own boss lol .than putting up with the drama at manufacturing, wherehouse jobs ,

  16. On another note! DOOR DASH does not pay well! It is ridiculous lol!!!!! They already over charge for the food, all the extra taxes and delivery fees, and we are getting a very small portion of this tiny fortune. 🙁

  17. I work for Door Dash as well, and I agree, the struggle is real on and off the clock! Lol!! With gas prices at there all time high I find myself having to decide if I can even afford to work! Some days I had to push it so far I had to gas up in the middle of a delivery!! Luckily the customer was pretty cool and didn’t penalize me! I do really love the excitement of the job and I’m thankful for the opportunity. ♡

  18. 27 yrs in finance. Went threw some personal & health issues. Starting dashing roughly 4 months ago. My 1st week I made something like $550 taking every order that came my way. But realized I spent almost half that in gas. But because I took almost every order my acceptance rate was 94% so the next month I was a “top” dasher (if your acceptance is over 60%) so I could work whenever I wanted. I was able to get my fuel down to about $175 a week & earnings up between $700-$900 but unable to maintain that 60% minimum acceptance. I use to stress about it ( just the way I am. Being in finance u always wanted to have the top numbers) though I would be lying if I said I it don’t bother me but you can’t take a lot of orders. It’s about how much u make per mile not so much per hour. So PEOPLE TIP YOUR DASH DRIVER! It will not only insure your order gets picked up but picked up fast & your helping someone in your community. Tip does stand for “To Insure Performance “.

  19. Please don’t use the word overtime- that implies getting paid more for working more than 8 hours. Instead, the system decided that they would not lose money paying the measly prop 22 base rate while he was online.

  20. In order to make $ with dash you need to be top dasher for the month. Then you can dash whenever you want. Need 150 dashes in a month, take all dashes untill then.

    1. Worst advice ever. If you accept 150 orders without prejudice, you will be guaranteed to lose money with the cost of gas. You might make a little more with top Dasher but it’ll be balanced out by the money you lost blindly taking trash

  21. Im a Conservative in politics.Army Veteran,Current gig worker.. Florida is Best place now to live!That said this Article is 100 percent Spot On !Well written! Refreshing!You absolutely have a future in journalism!Just be honest!Don’t fall for the left telling you what to say!If they won’t print your work….Start your Own !Be the CEO of your firm!Own it!Go against the Grain!Empower people with honesty !And You may one day be awarded A medal or heck..Be on a US Quarter one day!Great Job!Report facts!You will face opposition and rejections but the truth (Always wins in the end)You will be rewarded!I don’t tell anyone just this…You got it!N go get more! Thanks 👍💯

  22. It’s up and down I work dardash in Dallas Texas and it comes to about $10 an hour which is not very good I think doordash company model is to have a low price so that it will attract more customers and they only give you $2.50 as a base supposedly on the argument cuz that would be 2.50 an hour like a server at a restaurant but servers at a restaurant usually have three to five tables an hour all at the same time so that’s kind of an unreasonable expectation
    And if drivers made a $5 minimum per customer people might go somewhere else but I still think doordash drivers should make at least $5 a delivery I am the opposite driver, im the driver that accepts every order and I still don’t get orders sometimes: I don’t think it really has anything to do with not accepting orders when you don’t get orders.
    I think that it has more to do with people pack a lunch. the dinner rush is usually pretty good but varies and the breakfast rush used to be better but is very bad. I worked 9 hours for $70 but I also got to remind people not to speed or hurry because they’re trying to make more an hour because then you’ll get into a car accident, trust me.
    For a while doordash would give you a $5 minimum and then if you got tipped they would keep some of that money so that it would be $5 they said they were keeping their own share of the money and then they lowered it to $2.50 so it’s always kind of been Shady it’s not a startup anymore and I think that they can at least give drivers at least an extra dollar an hour but there’s no way to convince them if drivers don’t Unite.
    I’m not sure how they do it in California I have never gotten an order out here for $7.50 without a tip that would be so great if I would make $7.50 per trip doordash honestly makes me cry in Dallas I would rather work for Domino’s Pizza and make 20 bucks an hour that’s something doordash has to think about

    1. If Door Dash was hiding the tips then how could drivers decline orders because they don’t have a tip attached?

      “After a short period, Gantt received his first order of the day: $7.75, but no tip. Without hesitating, he clicked “Decline.” ”

      “Gantt often rejects unsuitable orders, quickly taking into account the size of the tip,”

      “but after declining two orders, one to the most congested part of the city (First Street), the other “disrespectfully” not offering a tip,”

      1. They don’t show the full amount of tip when offering up order. They show part of it so people don’t cherry pick. Once you complete the delivery they show you the full tip. Sometimes it may be 2 dollars more and other times it’s 10 dollars more than offered.

      2. Because drivers guess. There’s a base pay given to the driver from Doordash. About $2.50. Sometimes there’s a bonus during busy times. $1 usually but sometimes $3. And I’ve heard about $4. Add the two together. If the offer isn’t higher, then the customer didn’t tip. $7.75 is ridiculously high without a tip. I don’t think he was offered $7.75 if there wasn’t a tip. The author of the article probably misremembered. And NO ONE EVER tips in cash. 90% of the time you don’t even see the customer anyway.

  23. Loved the article… I’m a full-time Dasher so i truly understand. It is emotionally and spiritually challenging out there but highly addictive. The freedom is priceless!

  24. I have driven for almost every Gig app In california .
    from Uber,Lyft,Bounce,Instacart,Grubhub,Doordash, and couple of other apps.
    all of tem they have something in common.
    The pay rate sucks. every gig app their pay rate is ridiculous. and safety for drivers
    is NONE. i am a retired person but i like to stay active and i doing gig apps keeps me somewhat active but is NOT profitable. once you deduct all expenses including taxes in reality the tax break from your mileage is the only thing that keeps you afloat.
    I can tell all kinds of horror stories from every app i have work for it and it is not worth it. i have quit most of them and right now i am stuck doing just two of them DD & GH
    but recently i spend more of my time declining orders because of low base pay and no or extremely low tips. in California everything is extremely expensive and drivers Can NOT afford wasting limited valuable resources in trips or order were at the end you end up paying and not making any profit. i believe the fault falls in to our goverment officials because this is an area were there are no regulations impose by the state when it comes to earnings. and the few laws in place they have loopholes and this companies take advantage of those loopholes. plus on top of that the apps companies they do have incredible marketing strategies by running ads on the web
    promising high income figures when in fact is NOT possible to achieve those figures
    in my area average earnings are under 12.00 per hour if you are lucky. otherwise it could be ZERO because of all the low pay declined orders.
    as long as there are people falling in to the mouse trap, these companies will continue to keep paying slavery wages to drivers.

    1. AB5 was supposed to regulate Uber, Lyft, DoorDash etc. The voters in CA however shut that down through Prop 22. Why you may ask? I suppose lots of ppl figured AB5 was going to send their cheap Ubers and Dashes down the way of the Dodo.

  25. I always use Lyft and I always tip but then I’m old. Maybe he should work in the suburbs where he would get a more generous demographic than the youngsters using these apps in the City. I also suspect he’s overthinking it with the “I only take ‘profitable’ orders” deal. That probably works only on busy days. At the risk of being a grumpy old OK Boomer, like so many young people, he does seem to be sabotaging himself with his fussiness. At that age it would have taken a whole more than “I didn’t feel comfortable cuz I was the only guy” to have made me give up a stable, secure, presumably union teaching job in favor of what is really supposed to be a side hustle.

    1. I’d venture that the vast majority of youngsters aren’t fuzzy at all and would stick with the teaching job until they’ve found greener pastures.

    2. You are incorrect. 3 out 5 orders are under $4.00 (that is with tip) and over 5 miles round trip. With gas at $5/gal you do the math. Keep in mind taxes, parking, insurance, and phone service are all expenses we MUST factor into our decision to accept or decline an order. Those are just monetary reasons… There is also safety, traffic (late delivery is a cv and you are fired), location once completed (this affects mileage and availability of next order), as well as other factors. Top dashers (I am one) do NOT a) get more orders, b) get better paying orders, c) get preferential treatment in the app d) get less no tip/low base $ orders e) get bigger tipping orders or anything. It’s a BS. I’ve deliberately let myself fall out of top Dasher status just so I could test these fairy tales. In Portland Oregon on a GREAT night, I clear (after taxes, gas, etc) $9.00 an hour. About the same as a minimum wage burger flipper after deductions, only difference….absolutely no benefits of any kind.

      Quietly sets down mic
      Exit stage left….

  26. I live in Iowa not ideal for DoorDash. Your lucky to get a 6.50$ run. Iv did DoorDash for a couple months. I’m disabled. I had my leg amputated last year. This job at least keeps me moving and busy. I have alittle extra money in my pocket. I don’t think I’d do it in normal situation. Gas is outrageous. If he makes 150 a day then that’s not bad. He is doing it all day. Big city I’d think he being doing alot better thou. Great for him for doing great service to people who can’t get out of there homes. That’s reason I do it. Someday that might be me. Thank you all DoorDashers. 😊

  27. DD pays 2.50 per order here in Pontiac Michigan and a majority of the people don’t tip. I have to go to the neighboring cities and a lot of times when I travel there, DD will send me back here.

    1. I can’t believe when people think its right to not tip. Omg!! That makes me so mad. Gas prices are outrageous and the weather can get bad. I don’t think it should be allowed. They should charge everyone at the least 2$ upcharge. DD needs to pay better also. Maybe we all should do a two day shut down. See how DD likes loosing millions. They might pay better. Probably not..lolol

      1. They don’t tip because of how much the order cost. They think we get paid alot also by the company also. I talk with my customers and they ask if I don’t get paid why not leave the company. I have many illnesses I battle with so I can’t work a tough physical job and can’t work in the heat like when I was younger. I believe in tipping and being thankful for people that work hard and provide good service but most people don’t understand why they should tip.

  28. DD pays 7.75 in SF per order? Here in NJ it’s 2.00, if you’re “lucky” 2.50.
    I’ve developed to a master decliner. It is ridiculous what ppl expect an drive to work for in times where gas and car maintenance (which is way way higher if you drive 24/7) cost not one but three fortunes.
    The attitude I’ve learned: You don’t want to pay for a service provided, your food will be staying at the restaurant. For the few being fair to the driver, I provide the best service I possibly can.

  29. Wow thought San Fran was the hot spot. I do $25-35 an hour in my area for DoorDash this guy is just unlucky. I target $1 per mile or more on my orders. Take nothing under $6.25 for a trip.

    1. He is not unlucky, he is a victim. Everything he did in life was someone else’s fault. He accidentally ended up in college with useless degree, quit jobs because everyone is supposedly racist in this world. Now he is sitting in his car complaining instead of using different strategy and actually work. Yes dd slows down your app if you declining too much. And most of orders are not 2 times the miles. But in California you can make 20 + an hour just by accepting any and every order because dd will pay you at the end of the week for active hours. I don’t know who he is listening to with ‘drivers think 3 times the mileage is best’ that type of order is unicorn and I have it happened maybe once per week if I’m lucky, most of my orders are 1.5 times miles. I even take 1:1 when it’s slow.

  30. I average $20+ per hour, boy ain’t doing something right. Even turning down multiple offers per day, I manage to remain a Top Dasher every month.

  31. I am retired and do gig work for supplemental income. With fuel prices and car maintenance and my time I know the minimum amount of money I need to make per day to cover my expenses. Anything over that is the gravy.
    I deliver as a catering conciere service with a couple of platforms. Our orders are valued in the hundreds to thousands of dollars mainly servicing businesses and special events. Unlike these platforms like GrubHub delivering a single $12 meal several times to make minimum wage, hopefully, I can make $50 to $150 on a single order that takes an hour to complete. I average $1700 a week and work roughly 4 hours a day. I’m not joking. Be smart. Seek out good platforms like I have. I’m a seasoned professional driver for 10 years and these companies don’t advertise they find me.
    You’re only going for the delivery gig entities you are familiar with and advertise to work for them
    Do a little homework on the internet. You don’t have to “spin you wheels” all day for nothing.

  32. Either earlier this year or late 2021, DoorDash made a pay model change that shafted us Delivery Drivers by SEVERELY cutting the pay per mile amount. Now, tips make up about 60% to 80% of the order and it absolutely sucks. This gentlemen doesn’t have “Top Dasher” which is why he can only access the lunch and dinner rushes, instead of hopping on when he wants.

  33. That’s not accurate per hr. If your shift is 5-10pm doesn’t mean you work all that 5hrs. You have to calculate your earnings per hr on active time only. You don’t get paid to sit around waiting for orders. It’s like a taxi driver they don’t paid after the drop. For example I did 2 jobs in hr for $22 combine but did it in just over half hr. You base on that not the whole our you ain’t doing a delivery or getting back on your zone. This article is basing it on his hrs of shift and money earned. Wrong 👎

    1. Jay – sorry to say but your comment shows how Doordash, Uber, Lyft, etc. have brainwashed folks into thinking driving their personal cars for minimum wage or less is a way to make money. If his shift is from 5pm – 10pm then those are the hours he’s working. Only considering “engaged” time is BS. He’s still in his car, he’s waiting for his next delivery, he’s not able to do something else. He’s working. And not getting paid very much. Taxi drivers get all the money when a customer pays – not scraps like DD hands out.

      Doordash is a scam. The article doesn’t even mention all the externalized costs like all the pollution and traffic caused by this work. Not to mention gouging restaurants for the service. And the customers get food that likely would have tasted way better in the restaurant.

  34. Door dash dose not care about the delivery drivers who are taking a risk with their safety with each delivery. Door dash also will take the word of the customer over the driver even firing them because the customer has lied about receiving their food. Door dash don’t care

    1. Funny thing about this is they’re tracking you the whole time. I once pulled up to a woman’s home and she met me on the porch, a few minutes later I get an alert that said I didn’t deliver her food. My city is small and I haven’t taken an order from that address since.

  35. You really have to know your market…I’m really really surprised by this article. He lives in CALIFORNIA!?! And makes that little?
    My absolute minimum that I MUST make hourly is $20/hr. Some slower days I’ll make $19/hr. Etc. Or I’ll start at $18/$19 per hour..but by the end of the dinner shift it’ll raise up to atleast $20/hr. But usually somewhere between $21-23 per hour.
    $26-$30 hourly on really good days and/or holidays.
    This past Saturday I ended with $23.90/hr. After 8 hours and 15 mins or so, so $197.66. 13 deliveries, 144 declined orders. (I use DUH on Android to keep track of all of this). which isn’t fantastic at all, but I drive and live in NH. So it also isn’t bad at all. Now with all the full payout showing ways/tricks/apps gone you have to go back to being good at picking the good orders, and knowing your market is a huge factor in that. Where to go, where not to, good restaurants, bad restaurants….certain times a restaurant may be good, other times it may suck. Knowing neighborhoods you’re delivering to, etc. This stuff isn’t news to most drivers who do this Full-time or those who might not do it Full-time, but do it alot. Not gonna lie, DoorDash does have sketchy practices by not showing full payout and hopefully one day that changes, but instead of letting it break you down you have to become like a damn order detective as corny as that sounds.
    My customer rating is 4.97% with over 4k deliveries, but my acceptance rating is 7% right now but usually hovers in the 5-25% range. So I am not a top dasher by any stretch – you shouldn’t be either. Top dasher mostly isn’t feasible.. it’s low pay &trash orders all day long & killing your car.
    That crap people say now where the “algorithm doesn’t give you good orders if you have a low acceptance rating” isn’t true, atleast not in most places. Not by me atleast, I still always get big orders/large orders etc. I also get cruddy orders, but you don’t do those.
    Maybe in huge over saturated markets like San Francisco the algorithm does that, but I know plenty of dashers around the country who have shown that isn’t the case…I honestly have no clue how someone could live anywhere in CA not making at the very least $30/hr. And they even have Prop. 22. How would you even live.

    -But Seriously if people with Android don’t have DUH (Drivers Utility Helper)..which I know most do by now. Get it, it’s one of the only third party apps that is still worthwhile, and hasnt been blocked by DD'(DoorDash) new code changes in their recent app. Updates. (Which DD sucks for, tbh).
    When an order pops up it shows you the exact pickup address of the restaurant, the drop off address. It also calculates the exact $ per mile for you, keeps track of the amount of orders you have accepted, how many you’ve declined, how many orders you complete per hour ,Your active time, dash time and your $/hour. You can also set it to automatically un-pause your dash when DoorDash pauses your dash for declining however many orders.
    You can also set it to auto-accept/auto-decline certain orders if they don’t meet your minimum $, or mileage. I believe that feature costs a few bucks per month, but the majority of the app is free. Everything helps nowadays.

  36. Itd be nice if anyone writing these articles actually understood gig work, like at all.

    Like at all.

    Gig workers are INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS who get no hourly, no overtime, and on doordash the base pay is 2.25 a delivery.

    You are NOT REQUIRED nor are you PUNISHED for rejecting orders that are not profitable for you.

    Doordash doesnt throttle you for not taking orders

    I work in Kentucky on doordash 10 and 12, usually only on road actually delivering half that time, and make 20/hr all day and usually more like 35 an hour on road.

    Doordash is great if you arent braindead and know your rights and how to work the app.

      1. Well you realize if everybody knew how to work the app as super as you, you wouldn’t be making the kind of coin that you claim.

  37. Just imagine if he went to a trade school? Society bashing the working class has led to this. He would have saved a ton of money on a pointless degree and be taking home a MINIMUM of $30/hour easy.

  38. I’m shocked. Doordash gave him an order for $7 and the customer didn’t tip??? In Ohio, if the customer doesn’t tip, the base pay is only $2. I would have loved a $7 order when I was doing Doordash. In Ohio that $7 means that the customer has tipped $5. I do empathize so much with the waiting around he had to do. It’s the most boring part of the job and you really never know if it’s because the app is messing up (which it frequently does) or if people just aren’t ordering.

  39. I’ve been a dasher for 2 years around Atlanta area but I do make decent amount of money each day. You just gotta be smart and work your way around it. I only work on dinner shift since I do this as a side hussel and I make decent even with a low acceptance rate. Since gas prices have gone down in my area, i can’t complain.

    1. You don’t know what it’s like needing to pay rent with this. Of course you make good money per hour if you only work the peak hours. How are you assuming it’s possible to make that money 24 hours a day? The author said he made $20+ an hour during a busy time. Why don’t you try “your skills” during a slow time and prove you can continue to make good money because of your skill and not because the algorithm smiled on you?

  40. I can’t believe that people still work for such low pay doing hella stressful things. Why not do more skilled work and get paid more while doing something more meaningful, instead of being someone else’s lackey/fetch?
    To not be a hypocrite, I don’t use those apps. Mainly because I don’t believe in making the middleman rich. I’d rather give my money to the restaurant that’s making the food.

  41. It’s crazy because I am a dasher in the East Bay Area, I tell you we get penalized a % everytime we decline these $3 $4 orders it’s outrageous gas is nearly $6 a gallon and yet they try to force us to take these $5 orders going 12 miles just one way and you know to you keep declining them your acceptance rate will keep going down dramatically. I am now at 86% acceptance rate, when I say the percentage goes down a lot just from a few declines it’s no exaggeration, it’s quite ridiculous, I’ve always been penalized my first one out of 300+ deliveries because I was late to the restaurant by 12 minutes because my gps tends to stay on older orders and took me to the wrong place and I had to turn around and go an extra 3 miles. So I violated the Independent contract agreement because I went to the wrong area of a hot spot 🤦‍♂️

    1. Yes I understand your situation. I noticed that every decline it drops a % but to gain that % you have to do like 5-6 orders. To me I think that door dash ripping us off. Our base pay should be $6 and the rest is tips. At least we won something. But it’s a losing game. But I still work almost 10 hrs a day sometime just to make $100.

  42. I don’t understand this article. I have been Dashing for 3 years (over 6000 deliveries) and it doesn’t work that way at all. You aren’t limited on how long you can work and “overtime” isn’t a thing with DoorDash. In addition, the math in your article is incorrect. Depending on the market the base pay is $2-2.50 per delivery. That’s ALL we get paid. $2.50 from DoorDash per order regardless of mileage or amount the customer spent. 75% of my income is based on customer tips. Being properly compensated for mileage ($2 per mile) is far more important than the 5-10% the customer feels is adequate for a 10 mile drive. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking $10 in food or $100 in food, adequate pay for mileage is key. No tip, no trip.

  43. We dashed in ore. This article is spot on,not only do you fall from good graces for declining orders,as new dashers come aboard doordash gives them priority even if you are a top dasher,as this happened to me,you then slip down the engagement scale.the app is designed for doordash to succeed and you as the dasher eagerly scoops of the crumbs gleefully. My wife and I tried this as a source of supplement income,with all things considered we also had good days but as time went by we were losing more than we were making.

  44. Yo hago Door Dash en WORCESTER MA y una vez un sábado llegue a ganar casi $300 y eso me dejó asombrada aunq con todas las veces que cogí mi tiempo para ver q mis hijos estuvieran bien en casa para comer usar el baño poner gasolina. Y dije este es el trabajo ideal para mí en este momento. En ocasiones es frustrante porque llegan sin propina pero gracias a que acepto todo lo que me envían puedo hacer dash en cualquier momento. Porque cuando no puede pasar tiempo sin tener la oportunidad. He leído que hay personas que no dan propina porque ya de por si el servicio es caro pero esa gente no entiende que la app le cobra por ellos no querer o poder ir por sus alimentos o compras. Y que el conductor no tiene la culpa la base solo da $2.75. no todas las veces pero si un gran porcentaje de los pedido.

  45. I door dash in Wisconsin and Minnesota and my experience is the same except when offered and order you don’t get to see what’s a tip or what’s base pay just a combined total for the delivery and the mileage.

  46. It’s a shame that educated workers are reduced to professional double-parking, doing incessant mid-block u-turns and occupying parking spots for a nap or meal while locals are circling their blocks looking for a now-rare spot to park so they can go cook dinner for their kids. Sh*t is upside down. Can’t hate the player, but the game is pure evil. Barely making minimum wage and wreaking app-driven havoc in the streets. This whole model is fueled by lazy WFH techies who order 3 meals a day with these services. They can’t leave their screens – they’re plinking away at the next enslavement tool to enrich the VCs.

  47. I had no idea that doordash support people can lower your ratings. I had 3 situations in a row that doordash support couldn’t help me with and I got frustrated. 30 minutes later my rating had gone dramatically 12 points. ADVICE to doordash drivers . AVOID DOORDASH SUPPORT .They have no clue and are in 3rd world countries that don’t appear Americans demand for customer service They should watch a WALMART training video

  48. Yujie, I love your articles that combine personal perspectives and a real human connection with insight into bigger political issues. I find myself talking to friends and family about them cause they really hit home. Thanks for your work!

    And while I’m at it, thanks to all the DoorDash drivers who put up with this. Who are these people who don’t tip?!?!

  49. My wife consistently makes 20 to $25 an hour from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., just about every day of the week in the greater Seattle area

  50. I believe this is not an accurate portrayal of earning in CA under Prop 22 since it’s missing the weekly true-up to 120% of min wage plus $0.30/mi and a healthcare subsidy – this incorrectly just focuses on earnings from the upfront offer and tips. Article from DoorDash on this if you Google “DoorDash Your Prop 22 Guide.” The system is complicated so easy to get it wrong, but with correcting.

    1. Ryan — 

      My understanding is that you only get the wage guarantee for engaged time. So if you’re sitting around waiting for a call for an hour and then you’re on the call for five minutes, that’s the basis for your earnings.

      I would have to imagine the healthcare subsidy would be more parsimonious than HealthySF.

      I think the system, actually, is working exactly as intended.



      1. Thanks for the response JE. My understanding is that you’re correct the Prop 22 guarantee only applies to engaged time.

        That said though, it raises a few points:

        (1) In the article, it says “His total earnings for the four hours: $42.13” – I’m skeptical this includes true up paid at the end of the week under Prop 22, and if that’s excluded, then $42 underrepresented his earnings for that time. Some back of the envelope math – let’s say 30% of that was tips (conservative according to the 40% cited in the article), then he earned $42.13 * 0.7 = $29.49 in base pay. If that includes the 120% min wage true up, then he only worked $29.49 / ($16.99 * 1.2) = 1.44 hours out of the 4 hr shift which doesn’t seem right since he did at least 4 rides, and that is conservative since it doesn’t also include the 30 cent /mi part of the true up. If my intuition is right and the $42 doesn’t include the Prop 22 earnings, then the number isn’t really an accurate view.

        (2) This is more controversial, but it seems like if he had accepted more of the orders offered instead of declining them, he could have reduced the % of the 4 hr shift he was idle, and could have benefited from the Prop 22 earnings guarantees for active time and therefore increases his overall earnings per hour. Excluding the $0.30 / mi and tips for a moment, he could hit $17/hr being active 3.3 hrs of the 4 hr shift with the 120% guarantee. If you add in tips and mileage, it seems likely he could have hit more than $17 hr with less than 3 hrs of active time, which he could have achieved accepting more orders. Of course want to recognize there are good reasons to decline, such as parking challenges, ending location, etc, and what I mention above doesn’t take those into account.

        (3) More of a nitpick but this from the article is also misleading: “If the restaurant he entered was busy, he might lose 20 minutes to a single delay.” Again Prop 22 pay guarantees 120% min wage for active time, which starts when the order is accepted, so includes waiting time, so he’s actually getting paid for this time. To be fair, his tips per hour for that order would decrease though since tip is the same no matter how long the order takes.

        Hope that helps!

        1. Ryan — 

          Yes, clearly it’s a carefree and lucrative way to earn a living and not exploitative and dehumanizing at all.



          1. Great response joe, that’s what I was thinking about mr goatee Ryan who sounds like he works for doordash and whose responses made me think of the old futurama meme, I for one support our new technocratic overlords so sayeth the hypno-toad.

          2. Another flaw in your article Joe,

            Doordash doesn’t show the tip.

            I make a consistent 20-30 an hour taking advantage of Prop 22. 85 acceptance rate and trying to get it higher. Take the emotion out of it and focus on your bottom line. You’ll never make as much money as someone who works harder than you, and you shouldn’t.

          3. GrubHub, Lyft, UberEATS and the like are not lucrative delivery gig jobs. They are unfair with ridiculously expectations plus that make Thier platforms to complicated. Seek out catering conciere service platforms. A huge difference

        2. As a dasher in Missouri I can assure you this is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to dash in all the other states that do not have laws that require you to be paid minimum wage.

          1. Dashing in Alabama, this article nailed it as how it goes here. It’s pitiful “punishment” to Dashers who decline no-tip orders and those with excessive miles to drive (to and from) for nearly nothing of a profit it any. Yet if you do t do it, DoorDash will blackball you and you get no offers. From 2021 to 2022, dashing has deteriorated. I strongly feel that DoorDash is exploiting this downturned economy by forcing those who need this app to make “any” money to work for no tips which in average is $2.00 to $2.50 here base pay. DoorDash is NOT giving two hoots to drivers and their customer service is abysmal too. If there is a problem, you must wait 10-20 minutes and then the answers are robotic with long waits between answers. I have no respect for this company as it’s also hiding tips from drivers and not giving full tips when customer graciously gives tips. They are pocketing both ways and messing with peoples lives. Shame on DoorDash and everyone should know and understand how dirty dealing they are to our society.