Jay, a 22-year-old food delivery worker in Philadelphia, has revealed that he only accepts orders that come with high upfront tips on DoorDash and Uber Eats. The delivery rider said he chooses to accept or decline orders based on how much each delivery would pay and how long it would take, but primarily based on the size of the tip. Jay claims that when an offer comes in as low as $2 or $2.50, that means the customer did not offer a tip upfront. Jay revealed that he typically accepts only orders with the highest payments, which often means the highest upfront tips, and turns down roughly 75% of the orders he receives. “I’m not doing this to gamble. I’m doing this to make money,” he said. “So I’m not really interested in playing the game of, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do this person’s delivery for a guaranteed $2.50. Maybe it might be more.’ I don’t play that game.” The majority of orders Jay sees come with a tip, according to documents Insider saw. They generally range from $3 to $7. While Jay’s approach seems to be effective in maximizing his earnings, his strategy has also raised ethical concerns among customers.
Some customers feel that delivery workers should get the same tips as the waitstaff at restaurants, while others believe that they should not be responsible for paying these workers a living wage. In the wake of the pandemic, many delivery drivers have reported that customers have been cutting back on tips. However, tipping has increased since 2020, according to Alix Anfang, an Uber spokesperson. “On the rides side, tipping frequency and the average tip on a trip roughly doubled over the last two years,” Anfang said. “Food delivery has always had a high tipping rate, but the average tip on a delivery increased even further by about 20%.”
Jay’s approach of looking for higher tips has been described as a “treasure hunt”. He said he deliberately hangs around more affluent neighborhoods, like Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, because customers there tend to tip better. “I’ll sit in Rittenhouse Square in the park, and I’ll get an order that’s from a fancy Italian restaurant,” he said. “It’s a two-block delivery, and it ends up paying me $20 because this person doesn’t want to walk two blocks in the winter cold.”
Jay began delivering food for DoorDash in January 2019 to earn extra income and worked roughly 40 hours a week that summer when he was off school. When the pandemic hit, he moved home to a Philadelphia suburb and began doing grocery and food delivery from his car. He noticed a significant boost in tips during the first few months of the pandemic. “On $250 to $300 grocery orders, people were tipping $100,” he said, “because they were just so petrified to step foot in the grocery store and they were so thankful that someone else was willing to do it.” Today, Jay said his DoorDash and Uber Eats tips average around $4.50.