Uber Eats is asking me if I want to sign up for Order and Pay (or some call it Place and Pay).
I'm actually considering it.
Me, the guy who normally avoids those orders like the plague. Why would I even think of it? If it's optional, why not opt out?
I'll at least give them credit here – they give you the option. You can opt in. With everyon else, you don't get the option. You can turn down offers but you can't opt out of GETTING The offers, so Give Uber Eats credit here.
I plead insanity. Maybe it's me taking one for the team – I want to try a few deliveries so I can be better informed whether it can be a good option. Maybe I just lost my ever loving mind. Or perhaps there might be a few such deliveries that could be good.
Either way, I thought it made sense to talk a bit about Order and Pay. Does it make sense to take those orders? Who's good at it? Who isn't?
What IS Place Order and Pay? Why does it matter?
You may not be familiar with Order and Pay, or Place and Pay, or Red Card Orders, depending on the terminology for the particular platform. It's a particular type of delivery where the courier actually places the order at the restaurant, pays with a special debit card provided by the delivery platform, and then waits for the food before delivering.
I'm not a fan.
In most cases, the restaurant has not partnered with the platform. The restaurant has not agreed to work with Grubhub or Doordash or Postmates or whomever. There are some exceptions – such as Wendy's arrangement with Doordash. I've seen Wendy's actually advertise delivery with Doordash.
How do the restaurants feel about this?
That's the million dollar question. It could be the million dollar lawsuit question. Some restaurants are suing these companies for using their trademarks, selling their food, and profiting off them without their permission. And I'm finding that a number of restaurants are okay with it. I think it varies.
There are restaurant owners who are very protective of their brand. They are particular about presentation, and about the customer experience. They want nothing to do with third party delivery because they cannot control the process. Some are upset because some foods don't deliver well and this whole order and pay thing has people ordering foods that don't deliver that well. I can't blame any of them for feeling that way. It's their right. They own the restaurant, they own the logos and trademarks, and their branding is important to them.
I laugh at people in forums who get upset at these restaurants. It's like they feel like the restaurants owe them something. Because Grubhub sent them over to place an order, WITHOUT the restaurant's permission, that the restaurant is still obligated to take this order? Get a clue, people.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I've experienced order and pay with Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub. I'm not sure the good, the bad and the ugly is really a good title here because there is no good. But if one had to fit into that, it would be Doordash. Grubhub and Postmates were in a fierce battle for the Ugly, and I had to settle on just Bad for Grubhub.
Doordash Red Card Orders – The Good (or at least the not as bad).
Doordash calls their Order When You Arrive option a Red Card order. That's named obviously after the red debit cards they provide. Sometimes we have to place the order, sometimes the order has been placed.
I'm not sure I can call them good. They're less bad or less ugly than the others. Maybe because they've done this for awhile and they've been able to figure it out. Actually, a red card order where you have to place the order has been kind of rare. Maybe part of why it's gotten better is they've taken to hiring people to call in from over seas to place the orders with the restaurants. I have to give them credit there.
Grubhub Place and Pay – The Bad.
Okay, we're going to call it Less Ugly. The rollout of Place and Pay for them hasn't been pretty. They only recently adopted the practice and I'm not sure it's spread to everywhere yet.
I kind of thing this is a desperation move. It's funny because I've seen Grubhub criticize Doordash and Postmates for the practice but now they're joining in. They're grasping at straws for ways to add businesses. The other interesting thing is I've seen a lot of orders come through as Order and Pay for restaurants that used to be on the platform. I wonder if some are doing so intentionally – they don't want to pay 20% or 30% of their sales, so they quit the platform, Grubhub adds them anyway, Grubhub is doing deliveries anyway, but now the restaurant gets full price. Genius!
Issues with Grubhub and Order and Pay
With Grubhub, it seems to have been a shotgun approach. Like, we're just going to add everyone we can add and find whatever menu we can find and put it on here.
I don't like Grubhub's approach mainly because of the stealth of it all. They actually ask us not to tell the restaurant. That's garbage. But the thing that's hilarious is, the card they gave us? Big Fat old Grubhub logo across the card.
And then they do this stealth, but what does their answering machine tell customers when they call in? If you're calling about the status of your order, please call the restaurant.
Customer: “Hi, I'm calling to find out about my order.”
Restaurant: “Sure, what's your name?”
Customer: “John Doe”
Restaurant: “We don't have an order for John Doe”
Customer: “I placed it through Grubhub”
Restaurant: “We don't work with Grubhub”
Customer and Restaurant: “WTF???”
There are a few things Grubhub just didn't think through here.
Postmates Order When You Arrive: The Ugly
Now to be fair, if anyone's had time to figure it out, it's Postmates because they kind of invented this thing. In fact that's how they started, I don't think they originally had partnered restaurants.
Postmates has some issues. One is their nonexistant support. If there's an issue, you're pretty much screwed as a driver. Good luck even finding support. The other is, you don't know when you get an offer that it's Order and Pay. That's critical information to know when taking an order, you know? You don't know anything until you have accepted and you see the instructions to place the order. Finally, there's a higher cancellation rate with Postmates than anyone – you can go through all the trouble and out of nowhere Postmates cancels. What do you tell the restaurant then???
This is just part of the whole picture with Postmates that I just don't touch them right now. It's like a greater lack of respect for drivers than any of the platforms and that's kinda what puts them in uglyville.
And now Uber Eats is joining the fray.
This one actually surprised me a little. You could kind of see it coming with Grubhub where I think it's a desperation move. I really didn't expect Uber Eats to dive into this mess, but I guess they are.
So how will this work with them? Is it going to be worth while?
Maybe. If they do the shotgun thing that Grubhub did, that's a problem.
I think there's a few advantages that Uber Eats has over Grubhub. They're more likely to give you a little compensation over the time spent IF there's an issue. They also pay for actual wait time (not just estimated like Doordash and Grubhub, as if Doordash even figures that in at all). That seems to still be the case even under the new pay model.
Offering an incentive.
Uber Eats is offering a $30 bonus if you complete 10 deliveries within the first two weeks. That's $3 per delivery. $3 isn't enough for longer waits but not bad for something they can get done in ten minutes or less (30 cents a minute – add that to the 8 cents or so they already pay for waiting and that's got me at my 40 cent a minute rate). I don't know if they're paying any extra yet on top of all that.
In my market, when Doordash rolled out delivery to Walmart, they offered a $100 bonus for completing 10 deliveries within a time frame. At the time they were also paying pretty attractive amounts on the deliveries. It made it worth trying out Walmart delivery for ten deliveries. It also helped me figure out the huge time suck that Walmart deliveries are. I can tell you that to this day, I've done exactly ten Walmart deliveries. I'll probably toy with order and pay with Uber Eats, but I see a real possibility of having a lifetime total of 10 such deliveries, just like with Doordash.
There are some real potential issues that I see with Uber Eats.
The biggest one has to do with not knowing customer information until you have marked that you've got the order.
There's a problem with that when placing the order. What if you need clarification? What if the menu is off? How do you clarify that with the customer? Right now I'm guessing the only alternative is contact support.
If you've ever worked with Uber Eats support, you know how exciting that is.
I think it's harder too to evaluate an offer when you don't know the tip amount. The thing is with the others, usually an order and pay isn't worth it unless the tip is really good. Well, here we just don't know. If it's a higher priced order, you can usually anticipate a higher tip (and here's where you play the averages). But here's an interesting conundrum: higher cost orders usually take longer. They're from places like steakhouses or sushi. So you have longer wait times. The payout can be better but the gamble is bigger because of that.
I'm okay with a low paying order that took only a few minutes. I can make up for that. But if it took 45 minutes and there was no tip? That's harder to recover from.
How I approach Order and Pay in General.
When I'm really feeling lazy, Order and Pay is a fast no. Not going to happen. When things are really busy and the pay is good, I'm typically going to do a straight pass. It's too big of a wildcard, you don't know how long it will take, and it can be a huge momentum killer.
Using the 40 Cent Rule
If it's intriguing, then I look at the 40 cent rule. Will it pay 40 cents a minute or more? You can go to Episode 9 to get more on using the 40 cent rule. With order and pay, I usually bump that to 50 cents a minute. The reason is, there are too many times that you spin your wheels on orders that won't go through, so you have to compensate for that. If I'm getting 50 cents a minute on the orders that go through, that makes up for the lost time on those that don't.
In a nutshell, you try to calculate how long an order will take from the moment you head towards the restaurant to the moment you drop it off. I estimate how many minutes it will take and then multiply by 50 cents. Will the delivery pay that much?
Calculating time can be tough with order and pay. Do you have to wait in line before ordering? How long does the food take to prepare? Fast food or sandwich shops that are quick are one thing, pizza and sushi places another altogether.
Issues with the orders
There are just a lot of red flags when you Order When You Arrive. The restaurant can be out of an item. The menu could have changed. I've seen some dramatic changes. Now what do you do? Now you have to call the customer or call support.
Let's bring this one up: Filling drinks. All of these companies tell you you aren't supposed to fill drinks, but things are totally different when doing place and pay. That's the restaurant's job. I've heard of people actually arguing with the restaurant about how it's the RESTAURANT'S job to fill the drinks, even though the restaurant isn't partnered. But we're acting like the customer, right? So the restaurant is well within their right to require us to fill drinks. But…. can we do that legally? We don't have food handlers permits, the health department can come down on us… no one at these platforms has figured this issue out.
Reducing the time suck on Order and Pay
One thing you can do to cut down on time is to call the order in or place the order online. Honestly, I rarely do this. Here's why: It's not safe to do this when driving, so you gotta pull over. And then what if they don't answer? Heck, Grubhub has taken away the call access on a lot of orders, now you gotta look it up. But a lot of restaurants don't touch the phone when they're busy. By the time you do this, you could be there.
At least for me, I'm not taking such an order more than a few minutes away. And if there are issues or there's some interpretation to be done, it's easier to handle it in person, in my experience.
Sometimes, if there's going to be a long wait, I might fire up another app and pick up a short delivery. It's gotta be quick, the food's gotta be ready when I get there, and I have to be able to be back to pick up the food in time for it to be ready to go. But if you can do that, even a $3 or $4 order is extra pay without extra time.
My procedure on Order and Pay (Grubhub in particular)
The first thing I do when I arrive is what I DON'T do: I don't mark arrived. It's harder to get out of an order once you've marked arrived.
When I order, I say hey, this is for a Grubhub delivery, are you okay with that? I'm sorry Grubhub, I'm not playing these stealth games. Some will say that's stupid, you're cheating yourself. Look, if it's going to be a problem I want to know now. And, if they know what it is, they're better able to help me interpret what the customer is asking for. Finally, I think it just respects the restaurant. Grubhub, if you don't like me being honest with the restaurant, there's a simple solution – don't send me order and pay offers. I won't be heartbroken.
If there's an issue where it can't be delivered.
I'm gone. I'm firing up another app so that I can get a replacement delivery as quick as possible.
If the restaurant doesn't want to do delivery, I thank them and respect their decision. If it's a major issue with changes in the menu and I can't get through to the customer, I apologize and excuse myself.
So the first thing I'm doing is getting myself in a place to get an order with someone else. Because it can be awhile before I might get something with Grubhub or whomever this was for.
I will make a best effort to contact support. I want this handled properly so that they aren't sending some other poor schlep over to take this. But I'm not waiting forever on the phone, I'm not dealing with support being stubborn. If there's an issue, at that point I've done what I can do. That's when I cancel and I move on.
Is it even worth bothering with Order and Pay with Grubhub, Doordash or Posmates?
Is it even worth it?
It can be.
I take very very few such offers. My acceptance rate may be in single digits on those types of offers. There are just too many potential issues. Having said that, my profit per hour on the ones I do take has been high enough that, I'm okay with that.
And sometimes it's a very small order. Give me a $5 Wendy's order where I can zip through drive through and have it to the customer in ten minues, I'll take those any time.
But here's the thing – I'm bothered by the principle of it. That's why I'm up front with the restaurants, I think they deserve that respect. I'm bothered that the approach by these companies is all around lying and stealth and… it's just childish. I won't play that game. But if I can act in a way that respects the restaurants AND myself and still get a few decent orders in, I'll do it.
I think you just have to do a lot of self examination about it. And a lot of examination of the offer itself. It's going to take more time – how much time? That takes a bit more thought. Is it worth it? That, my friend, is up to you.