Is it possible to get deactivated by Doordash for using the older version 5.63.6 of the Dasher app? Or how about for using an app like Driver's Utility Helper (DUH, sometimes known in the driver community as Dash Utility) to help you make decisions? Is there a danger in linking to apps or programs where you connect to your Dasher login?
Doordash has never specifically stated you cannot use these options. However, they have updated their independent contractor agreement and their deactivation policy with language that would invite caution.
Recent reports of deactivation for “abusing the platform” raise a question about if any of these apps and integrations could be a risk to Dashers.
Dashers using other tools to improve Dashing
There are a number of integrations and tools that can help you with your dashing. One wouldn't think that there would be a problem with any of them.
Unfortunately, this is Doordash we're talking about. Like any of the gig economy apps, it's hard to know what they allow and what they don't.
Dasher app version 5.63.6
Doordash likes to play games with the tip amount. This was even true under the old pay model from a year and a half ago. Doordash won't show the total pay amount on their offer screen if the tip is more than a certain amount. It's not uncommon to get an $8.50 offer only to find out the actual payout is several dollars higher.
Many dashers have found that an older version of the app, version 5.63.6, will show the total pay amount on the offer instead of the capped amount that displays on the current version of the Dasher app.
There's become a sort of underground movement to make that app available and show Dashers how to install it and utlize it. This allows people to know what they're really going to make on a delivery.
Driver's Utility Helper (or Dash Utility)
I've seen a lot of drivers refer to this as Dash Utility. Driver's Utility Helper is an app created by a Doordash driver for Doordash drivers. It's a utility that will read offer details and present it to Dashers to help them with decision making.
With the Dash Utility Helper you can see the per mile rate of a Doordash delivery offer. Other features include un-pausing the app if a delivery offer times out, automatic acceptance and rejection, and automatically bringing the Doordash app to the screen when an offer comes in (think Uber Eats if you deliver for them).
Some features come with the free version, some are available through a subscription. A number of Dashers have found these features useful.
Third party apps that link to your Doordash account.
There have recently been a number of apps that can provide information and analytics if you link them to your Doordash account. How it works is, you log into your Doordash account through their app or website. They are able to stay logged in through that account and pull data.
Some of the apps include:
Kover.ai. Kover provides income protection services. They use your login to get earnings records, which makes the processing of claims if you need their services much faster. Leah Chasser from Kover was a guest on episode 95 of our podcast.
Para. Para is a fascinating new app that is in development right now. David Pickerell with Para was on Episode 102 of our podcast. Para is looking to provide data for drivers including earnings and analytics reports, and potentially decision making data for drivers.
Gridwise. Gridwise provides a variety of features to drivers. They were one of seven mileage tracking apps that we reviewed and compared. Gridwise takes the data a bit further than just tracking miles, as they can run analytics based on your earnings and data that they can pull from your Doordash account.
I find something useful with all of these. They can be tools that can help drivers better operate their delivery businesses.
Are any of them a threat to your ability to deliver?
Changes to the contract and deactivation policy
On December 16, I wrote about the new Doordash independent contractor agreement that was being implemented. In order to continue doing deliveries, Dashers had to agree to the new terms.
Included in the agreement is an entirely new Section XIII. 320 words related to proprietary rights and licenses. Essentially it asserts that the plaform, app, and any data related to the app are owned solely by Doordash and cannot be used outside of Doordash's permission. Here are some excerpts (bold emphasis mine)
No portion of the Doordash platform may be reproduced in any form or by any means, except as expressly permitted in the terms of this Agreement.. Contractor agrees not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on the Doordash platform or any intellectual property rights therein in any manner, and Contractor shall not exploit the Doordash platform or any intellectual property rights therein in any unauthorized way whatsoever.Doordash Contractor Agreement as of December 16, 2020
And then there's the update to the Deactivation Policy. This has been added under the section “abusing the platform.”
Scraping. Using any robot, spider, web crawler, extraction software, automated process and/or device to scrape, copy, index, frame, monitor, conduct any systematic retrieval of data or other content from any portion of DoorDash platform or its content.Doordash Deactivation Policy as of January 14, 2021
Is this significant?
Here's what I said about this particular section when I wrote about the changes in the new contract:
This is my “i’m not a lawyer” hat in action: I don’t know if any of this language would prevent the use of these apps, or even if it requires the use of a newer version of the app. The thing is, why put this in the contractor’s agreement? The only answer I can think of is that they want to exert more control over how the app is used. Putting this in there gives them room to take action if the app is used improperly, as defined by Doordash.December 16 EntreCourier article on new contract updates
Here's what it boils down to:
Doordash has added this language to give them recourse if they don't like how the app is used.
They made it clear that data belongs solely to Doordash. Allowing access to Doordash data without Doordash's permission is a violation of the contract.
Distributing Doordash property, including their app, is a violation of the contract. Doordash can pretty well define what they want as to what “exploiting” the app involves.
And the thing is, Doordash has shown that they'll crackdown on things that they don't even tell you they're cracking down on. There's no due process with them.
And they know they can get away with it.
Are the latest “abuse of the platform” deactivations related to any of these apps?
I don't know.
Doordash won't get specific.
Not being specific is their way of controlling drivers. Honestly, it's a form of bullying and intimidation. Leave it out there that you can be deactivated for, well, anything.
Great way to keep drivers in line.
It's also a great way to breach the barrier of the independent contractor relationship.
Doordash spent millions to lobby for Proposition 22 in California so they could keep using independent contractors. However, they want to rule, manage and control drivers like employees.
And since we don't fall under employee law, there's not much that's stopping them.
And with that I'll get off my soapbox. For now.
The bottom line is, what little communication there is pointed to the abuse of the platform provisions in the deactivation policy and to the independent contractor agreement.
And all of that comes after they updated the provisions that I mentioned above. That may be coincidence. It may not.
What should you do with this?
Honestly, I don't know.
I seriously struggle with whether to put this out there. I talk about Doordash using fear and intimidation to control Dashers, and then I wonder if I'm adding to that by speculating on this?
The thing is, I don't have proof. I can't say for sure that Doordash is deactivating people for using third party apps or older versions of the app. If Doordash were doing it, they wouldn't tell you. They'd rather keep it vague because that keeps you in check better than being specific and up front.
But the timing of the reports I'm hearing of deactivations and the additions to the contract don't seem like a coincidence.
I won't tell you to use or not to use any of the programs, apps, or anything else based on all this. I'll tell you to proceed with caution.
What am I doing?
Personally, I don't bother with the Driver Utility Helper. I tried it out and I didn't find any of the features useful for me. That's because I have a different way of evaluating offers than the popular “miles per dollar” approach.
I also don't buy into using the old app. Again, I have a different evaluation process and it's not often that knowing the hidden tip amount is going to change my decision. I do quite well without relying on a buggy outdated version of an app.
So for those two, I'm not changing anything. If I were using them, I would be stopping at this point.
I was connected to Kover, Gridwise and Para. I decided to change my password on my app, which effectively disconnects all three.
That was a tough decision. In particular, I really like the guys at Para and I'm intrigued by what they're working on. They're developing stuff that I really, really want to promote.
However, I'm not taking a chance. In fact, I think there's a greater risk involving some third party apps than there is with the utility helper or the old version. Some of this stuff is strictly to help drivers out. I think that there's a bit more danger when we provide access to another company that is actually going to do something with the data.
Even if that something is to benefit the driver.
Can you be deactivated for using Dasher version 5.63.6 or Dash Utility or any of these other apps?
The new language in the contract and the deactivation policy gives them room to do so.
Are they deactivating people because of this?
I don't know.
What I do know is that Doordash likes to manage by algorithm. They don't want to waste money hiring people to look into things like this. So the computers look for patterns.
And then it's deactivate first, ask questions later.
And oh by the way, Doordash doesn't care what the answers are.
The thing is, there's a reason Doordash made the changes they did. I don't know what the reason is, but they aren't going to do this out of thin air.
That opens the possibility of scanning for activity that could look like we're allowing unauthorized access to things that have nothing to do with the programs or older versions or anything I've talked about here. But in so scanning, if they come across an indication that someone else is connected to my account, it leaves the door open to being cut off by the algorithm.
I won't tell you what to do with any of these programs. As for me, I'm proceeding with caution.
Since this was originally published, Para introduced a feature called Tip Transparency. When a new order comes in, Para would send a notification showing the actual pay and tips. There has been a lot of controversy about if using Para could get you deactivated.
The reasons for the concerns about deactivation line up with the reasons mentioned above. The biggest issue related to Para was that you have to log in to your account through the Para app. I've seen many claim they were deactivated for using Para, but have yet to see actual evidence that it happened.
Also since this was published, Doordash changed things up so the older 5.63.6 version no longer works. They had the same response with the Para app, changing how information was sent to Dashers when an offer was made so that it is no longer possible to identify the full payout until after the delivery is in progress.
These things seem to indicate that if Doordash doesn't want shortcuts used, they'll figure out a way to make them impossible to use. It's still difficult to say how they'll respond to apps like Gridwise, Kover and others that have you log into your Dasher account.