I occaisionally order food from Doordash and all the other delivery apps, just to keep a feel for what the customer side of the experience is.
As a customer, I received an email from Tony Xu reassuring me of the measures they are taking to keep everyone safe in response to the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis.
And he lied to me.
Maybe you could call it a partial lie. Given the context, I'm not giving him a pass.
Supposed active measures
In his email, Tony said ” Beyond simply monitoring the situation, we are taking active measures to make sure the food that gets delivered to your home is safe and secure. In affected areas, we have begun distributing hand sanitizer and gloves to Dashers.”
Living in Colorado, I think it's safe to think that customers receiving this email would think they are in an affected area. Colorado has the fifth highest instance of confirmed cases in the country. The other four states are much more densely populated.
So as a customer getting this letter, it's fair to assume that Tony means dashers in my area are given these things.
I know it's a lie because I deliver for Doordash.
As a dasher, I do not have access to those items.
I'm not personally bothered by that. I take responsibility for myself to provide safe delivery. I start to wonder if I'm getting a little OCD with as frequently as I'm washing my hands now (thoroughly, and by the way, the chorus to Sweet Home Alabama lasts about 20 seconds if you're ever tired of singing the ABC song – of course you know you have to also vocalize the instrumentals if you do that). Personally, I keep a supply of disinfectant wipes and wipe down delivery bags frequently. I don't have to have Doordash provide those things for me.
But that's not the point. The point is, Tony Xu is leaving customers with the impression that Doordash is providing something that they are not.
That sounds like a lie to me.
Gouging drivers for those supplies.
The supplies are available for some drivers. I understand that with the crazy run on hand sanitizer and everything else lately, they may have to limit availability. They sent emails to eligible drivers offering access to their store where they can order hand sanitized and gloves and only have to pay shipping.
If I go to that link I get a message that says “you are not eligible to order these products.”
Many drivers were reporting that they were being charged $15 when ordering.
There was a guy who bought up huge quantities of hand sanitizer in the Tennessee area that had his Amazon account suspended for price gouging. He was selling at a starting price of $7.
I can tell you that at the very least, Doordash could have dropped those into a small flat rate box with the post office for around $6.
In other words, they're charging more to ‘give' drivers these items than what a guy was charging who has become famous for price gouging.
Opinion: Doordash is more about spin than about real action.
Doordash is making the items available in SOME affected areas.
Maybe Tony should have been honest enough to at least use that word.
But as a customer in an affected area, I'm getting a promise that makes me think he's doing it here in the area that's got the fifth highest number of cases in the country.
And he's not. It's not available to drivers here.
But Tony knows how to spin things. You could see his mastery through the whole pay model thing that blew up last year. And you see it in his response here.
He also promised “To support the Dasher community, we’ve introduced a COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program, which will provide up to two weeks of assistance to eligible Dashers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are subject to individual quarantine at the direction of public health officials.” What he doesn't tell you is that when a Dasher takes the assistance, the Dasher is deactivated. That's essentially being fired. They have to go through an appeals process to be able to deliver again.
I get pausing the ability to deliver. That should happen. But do it in a way that doesn't put them through a process where there's no guarantee they can get back on.
What's the real issue here?
It doesn't mean I won't deliver for Doordash. But I approach this like a business owner, which as an independent contractor, I am one. Doordash is my customer. Any business owner knows that some customers are going to try to pull one over on you.
You just learn not to agree to anything based on promises from someone who you don't trust.
The sad thing is, that trust issue impacts me as a customer. Tony's promising me he'll keep things safe. But he's not doing the things he says he's doing.
In a time like this, the last thing we need are people who are more concerned about spinning things to look good than about actually doing what they promise.
Yesterday I received the email from Doordash. They are now making santizer and gloves available in my city. There's a temptation to take some credit because of the timing of it all. But I think a total of 60 people read this yesterday, odds are pretty low that it was someone from Doordash. I'm pretty sure this article from Business Insider on the issue was far more likely to get noticed.
Whether they were forced to by public pressure or this was just part of their rollout, I don't know. And honestly, this isn't the issue here. It's about the spin. It's about saying you've done something in markets where you haven't done it yet. This is a time where we need more transparency and less spin. Be real. It'll seriously come back to haunt you otherwise.