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Doordash Deactivations, Completion Rates, Late or Incomplete Deliveries

Doordash has a problem.

And they're cracking down.

I just wonder if their solution to their problem ends up creating a bigger problem for them in the long run.

Related: A more recent wave of deactivations and more changes in deactivation policies prompted this more recent article on Contract Violations and Fraudulent Activity (how in the world is being late considered fraud???).

Doordash has updated their deactivation policy and they've kinda taken on the Grubhub practice of bullying their drivers into submission. Drivers are scared of losing their income.

Why are they doing this? Are these justified changes? How can the independent delivery professional work within this updated Doordash deactivation environment?

Let's talk about this, especially from the perspective that we are running a business and that Doordash is our CUSTOMER, not our employer.

Picture of woman tearing up contract, and caption: Doordash is demonstrating they're willing to tear up your contract if you violate their deactivation policy
Doordash is demonstrating they're willing to tear up your contract if you violate their deactivation policy

Why are they doing this?

I think it boils down to the huge spike in deliveries due to the pandemic has also created a spike in customer satisfaction issues. Customers aren't happy, restaurants aren't happy and Doordash is struggling like they never have before.

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Food is getting to the customer later, if it gets there at all. It's taking longer for the food to be picked up at the restaurants.

On top of that, Doordash has struggled with finding ways to provide support when call centers were pretty much shut down by stay at home orders.

My take has been one of the main reasons Doordash was able to overtake Grubhub is that they were better at just getting the stuff delivered and keeping customers happy.

I have to think they've been losing that edge and they're getting scared. So they followed Grubhub's lead and started cracking down on their employes.

Ummm, I mean, their contractors.

Changes in the Deactivation Policy.

Doordash has been doing a lot more communication to drivers with threats of deactivation than I've ever seen.

Somewhere along the line, they added a significant section to their deactivation policy. Here's a screenshot of their policy as of September 29, 2019 (thanks to the Google Wayback Archive Machine)

Screenshot of Doordash's earlier deactivation policy, as of September 29, 2019.
Doordash Deactivation Policy as of September 2019.

I don't know when it changed. The Wayback machine is great for seeing earlier versions of a web page, but somewhere along the line Doordash changed the page to something that couldn't register in the Wayback archives.

September 2019 is the latest that I could pull up. However, this is a screenshot of the current policy (as of May 26, 2020).

Screenshot of Doordash's more recent deactivation policy, as of May 26, 2020 and including a new section 'violating the terms of your contract'
The most recent policy shows a change, addingthe section in the middle about “Violating the Terms of your Contract”.

Did you ever receive notification of this change?

Notice that Doordash added a section to their policy entitled “Violating the Terms of Your Contract.” I don't know when that was added, and I cannot find any email telling me about that change in the policy. Did I just miss that?

If not, Doordash has broken their own contract.

image of handshake being split by a contract violation
Doordash's failure to notify Dashers of their update in the deactivation policy is a direct breach of their contract.

That's a little ironic, isn't it? They add a section about violating the terms of the contract when they violated it themselves.

In the contractor agreement, section XIII, it says changes can be made to the deactivation policy, however that ” DOORDASH shall provide notice of any such changes to CONTRACTOR via e-mail.”

If you received notification that the policy had actually been changed, could you forward that to me? I cannot find such a notice.

They notified us of a change in the minimum completion rate, but nothing about this big section added to the policy. If someone has the notice I'm glad to update this article.

Three areas Doordash is cracking down

There are three specific things that I've seen where Doordash is really pushing the deactivation button.

Not delivering the food.

Especially with the advent of no-contact deliveries, I've started to see a flurry of posts on forums and social media where people said they were deactivated for not delivering food to the customers.

Doordash has recently updated the ratings screen to add a section that says “Orders Never Arrived.” (Update: in later versions, Doordash updated their app, changing the heading from “orders never arrived” to “contract violations.”)

Screenshot of the current ratings screen on the Dasher app showing the new "orders never arrived" statistic.
Notice the new “Orders Never Arrived” in the ratings screen.

Drivers have been reporting getting texts that state that customers stated that food was never delivered.

Notice that the screenshot below states that failure to deliver food can result in deactivation according to the Deactivation Policy. That brings me back to the question – when did they add that section and when/how did they notify us?

Screenshot of text received by a Dasher that a customer reported food was not delivered
Screenshot posted in Doordash Drivers Facebook group of text received by a Dasher after a customer reported that food wasn't delivered.

Showing up late to the restaurant or the customer.

Doordash has been sending messages out to Dashers informing them that they have been late to the restaurant or to the customer. The messages that I've seen like the one posted below don't specifically say you will be deactivated but it makes the implication with the reference to the Deactivation Policy.

Screenshot of lateness alert as posted by a user on the Doordash Dashers Facebook page.
Screenshot of lateness alert as posted by a user on the Doordash Dashers Facebook page.

Doordash has a Lateness Based Deacivations Explained page. On that page they state that “Dashers who consistently arrive at the merchant or customer significantly after estimated arrival times will be eligible for deactivation, as noted in our updated Deactivation Policy.”

(Editorial note, because I really feel the need to harp on this – a policy that was updated without informing Dashers of the update). The policy seems to imply that extremely late is 30 minutes late or longer.

Essentially it looks like you will send out a warning text which they say will have no consequence. After that, deactivation is a possibility.

The thing is, they don't provide any detail. Is it two strikes and you're out? Or maybe 3 or 4? How long does a violation stay on your record?

If you're extremely late and then a year later you're late again, can they just terminate you then? They don't tell us any of that.

Low completion rate.

I should be clear, this isn't the same as not delivering the food. Completion rate is determined by how many deliveries you do compared to how many you accepted.

If you accept an offer and then cancel out of it, that's considered an incompletion.

Doordash has long had it in your policy that not completing 30% of accepted offers is grounds for deactivation. On May 22, 2020 they upped that to 80%

Deactivation for completion percentage cannot be appealed, unlike the other issues. However, at least here you know what the threshold is and what your completion rate is so it's easier to know when you're in trouble.

That is, if the ratings system works properly. Doordash has a way of glitching where some of the stats will be frozen.

Are these policies unfair?

eraser erasing legal scale signifying unjust and unfair practices.
Is Doordash's practice of deactivating drivers for contract violations unfair or unjust?

There are some things I don't like about what Doordash is doing. However, I mentioned I wanted to approach this as a business owner.

When you run a business and you agree to do something, you do it. That's good business.

Being on time and completing deliveries you agreed to complete are part of doing what we agreed to do.

On the surface, I really don't have a problem with Doordash's expectations. I've long said that our agreement is on a delivery by delivery basis and we make a commitment once we accept a delivery. It's fair for them to expect you to do what you promised your customer you would do.

However, if these policies can lead to deactivation for things outside our control, there's an issue. In most cases, I don't see that happening.

I do, however, see the potential for it. Doordash invests as little time as possible into investigating issues and tends to deactivate rather quickly. That's where this can be an issue.

Like most policies, these are a response to abuse.

The bottom line is, there are some terrible Dashers out there.

There are Dashers who are incredibly lazy. They won't get out of their car, or refuse to climb steps or exert even minimum effort to complete a delivery. Some don't take care of the food, or they keep the food in unsanitary conditions.

You will find some that work multiple applications, with those deliveries taking them all sorts of different directions without regard for how late that is making them.

There's a reason that Doordash has to insist that food be delivered in a safe manner, in that some customers don't feel safe. I look at how some people look when they're delivering and think, thank God they're not touching my food.

Doordash Dasher customer service level rating scale with someone checking off "the worst"
Sometimes the customer service provided by Dashers can only be described as “the worst.” Which explains part of why Doordash does have to crack down on contract violations.

It makes sense they have to take some steps here.

Don't get me wrong. I have no sympathy for Doordash here.

They have no checks and balances, and there really isn't a hiring process. All you have to do is have a license and pass a background check. Part of that is because they really aren't allowed to do that much screening because they're using independent contractors.

Again though, no sympathy here. That's a decision DOORDASH made. And the thing is, when you do everything on the cheap, you get what you pay for.

These Policies Could Create Problems for Doordash

I think Doordash is walking into a minefield here. There are just a number of issues in how they're approaching this.

Policies are vague

A customer reported they didn't get the food.

Did they not get anything?

Or did they just report that their fries were missing?

Is one report enough for termination?

How big of an order does it have to be to be a problem?

What exactly is “extremely late?”

To their credit, Doordash does have a little bit of explanation that at least clarifies that things like waiting at the restaurant won't work against you. They kind of hint at 30 minutes as the amount, but they're not clear.

You can get a warning but is it two strikes and you're out? Or three?

There is no due process.

Doordash sends you a report that someone claimed they didn't get the food. You don't get any detail on what exactly is missing.

It's possible to reply to the report, but what do you reply to? You get accused but can't face your accuser or respond to the specific accusation.

You can take pictures, you can have dashcam footage. Then you keep screenshots of your apps. All this is evidence that you did what you promised to do. But when you reply to an accusation, there's no opportunity to send that evidence.

If Doordash deactivates for lateness or not delivering, you can appeal. But from what I've seen of people in forums, the appeal process is a joke. They get a box where they can write to support their reactivation request.

How do you fill that out when you don't have much information about the deactivation?

You have no chance to speak with anyone. And who exactly is evaluating the request? The same person who deactivated you in the first place?

Doordash didn't follow their own protocol in updating policy.

Have I mentioned that? I think I may have mentioned that.

Here's the problem: Doordash is in the right to expect people to follow what they agreed to do. I've stated that already.

I think all three of these areas fit within the parameters of not following through on what a Dasher agreed to do.

The thing is, Doordash loses the moral high ground when they don't follow the contract themselves. Doordash changed the policy without a proper notification.

(If I missed a notification and they did properly notify people of these changes, I'll gladly walk this back).

Doordash has to hope some lawyer isn't digging into this process, it could really hurt them.

Doordash is risking crossing the control line.

Is Doordash crossing a line in the sand?
Gig companies like Doordash walk a fine line when it comes to controlling independent contractors. Do their deactivation policies cross that line?

This is especially true with the completion rate factor. For most Dashers, this comes into play when you unassign a delivery due to an excessive wait time.

In other words, if you don't wait long periods of time because the restaurant is behind (and by the way, you get no compensation for that wait time), you can be terminated.

Doordash is facing an existential crisis where they use contractors and there are forces all over trying to force them into using employees.

  • AB5 in California is law.
  • Virginia just passed a law restricting contractor use.
  • ProAct is national legislatin they're trying to push through (similar to AB5).

Controlling the work of your contractor is a common denominator in any interpretations of whether someone should be an employee.

Taking so many steps that political opponents could interpret as control is a really stupid move at this point in history, in my opinion.

Requiring completion on delayed deliveries is a breach of the agreement.

It starts with this: The delivery offer is a contract within a contract. You are given the terms of the agreement and you accept it or reject it. The terms include:

  • Where you are picking up from
  • Where the customer is
  • How much you are being paid
  • When you can expect the delivery to be done.

Pay attention to that last one: when you can expect the delivery to be done.

Doordash is giving you a deliver by time in the offer screen.

If Doordash can bind us to being done within a certain time frame, it seems only proper that we should take that ‘deliver by' as a reasonable expectation of when the delivery will be done.

If we accept an offer with a delivery by of 6 PM, only to find that the restaurant is so far behind or the wait line is so long that it's impossible to get the food delivered before 6:30, that means the terms of the agreement have changed.

Changing the terms of the agreement and still requiring it to be completed now crosses the line into controlling the work of a contractor.

This could work against Doordash in other areas.

Word cloud focusing on repercussions, consequences, unintended consequences of Doordash deactivation policies
The Doordash deactivation policy could have some repercussions and unintended consequences

Think about it.

You can be punished for unassigning. You cannot be punished for rejecting.

Acceptance rates are about to plummet. Dashers worried about being deactivating are going to get more selective. Orders from slow restaurants will go unfulfilled.

Is that a better alternative for Doordash?

What should Dashers do to protect against misclassification?

With all of this clamping down on this policy and that, what should Dashers do to protect their earnings without having to go into employee mode? Here's a few thoughts:

a. Do what you agreed to do

I think most Dashers are going to find out that if they just do their best to deliver the food in the best condition possible once they have accepted a delivery, they're going to be fine.

Head to the restaurant promptly. Get to the customer promptly.

That's reasonable.

You're agreeing to get the food to the customer in the best condition possible. How can you delay and meet that commitment?

Confirm you're in the right place and make sure the customer has the food. These things are common sense and really, they're just smart business. If you do this much, you won't have issues.

b. Document Document Document.

Mountain of documentation for Doordash Dashers
Okay, a mountain of documentation might be overkill for Dashers, but you do want to keep a record of whatever happens whenever there's a question about a particular delivery.

If there are things outside your control, document everything you do.

The biggest issue here is when customers lie about not getting food. Here are some ideas that can combat the issue.

  • Keep an electronic paper trail.
  • Communicate by text.
  • Take screenshots of communications.
  • Take pictures,
  • Get a screen shot of your map screen showing your'e at the customer.
  • Sometimes I record video of myself leaving the food and then leaving if I feel this is a setup.
  • Some have gone to the extreme of getting a body cam, I can't say I blame them.
  • I've recently installed a dashcam and I use a screen recorder on my phone.

If you see anything that looks like it will cause you problems, find a way to document what's happening. Text the customer. Chat with Doordash support and screenshot the conversation. Take pictures of traffic. Create a record so you have support.

Take screenshots of your offer screens. That's the terms of your agreement.

c. Make smart business decisions.

Know your market. Know the restaurants that are slow.

My acceptance rate is going to drop faster than the stock market in March with these changes. I'm far more selective now with Doordash offers.

If I have any doubt that I can get out of a restaurant in a reasonable amount of time I'm not even going to try. In the end I'll probably end up doing more Grubhub and more Uber Eats, less Doordash.

I recently wrote about multi-apping. I emphasize that when you take multiple orders, make sure that one is not going to interfere with your ability to do that ont he other. Be even more careful about that on Doordash.

Bottom line: You're not an employee.

scale that weighs whether an employee or independent contractor
Remember that we're not employees. There are rights that go with being an independent contractor

What it boils down to for me is, if I do what I agree to do, I'm going to be okay.

If I do an excellent job getting food delivered, I'll be able to maintain my relationship with my customer (Doordash) and continue to earn money from that relationship.

If the deactivation policies change to the point it's impossible to operate independently as a contractor, then I have to make a choice:

Let the customer exploit me or fire the customer.

At that point I'm firing the customer. I've already more or less done that with Postmates, but that's another article.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

jj

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

Thank you for the prompt reply!

I'm in a conundrum with insurance as Geicostates my policy does not protect me while doordashing, etc and I must have a commercial policy thru NICO. I am waiting for a quote from them. I had mo idea my auto policy has zero coverage for ecen delivering food and drinks.

Thank you!

jj

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

Really appreciate site and info presented and offered here. Thank you!

I would like to know if others are experiencing major app failures, i.e. timeout errors, a paused dash that slams you with orders while app is paused, and other issues.

I recommend you take a screenshot of every order and save for at least a week.

I'm new to DD dashing and your information and resources are beyond needed and greatly appreciated.

ronald.l.walter

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

Hey, thanks for the comments!

Every once in awhile I'll throw out the term Doorcrash Friday - Doordash seems notorious for major crashes especially on Friday nights. The app is poorly poorly poorly designed. It starts with knocking anything I'm streaming completely offline if an offer comes in, to the notification chime getting stuck, to completely going off.

And yes, I've had that happen before, especially when things are super busy, where I've had my pause over-ridden. Not totally sure that's a glitch there, I think that may be by design. Over-riding your choice to pause your dash is in my opinion a violation of the independent contractor status. You choose to go on pause and they still send you orders thus throwing your acceptance rate off. You probably figured out by now I don't care about my acceptance rate so I don't make as big a stink about that, but if someone's going for Top Dasher and has that happen, that's not right.

I'm not sure if it was just that poorly designed to begin with or they just outgrew the design, but I've commented before that instead of spending money on political campaigns and such, maybe instead spend the money on overhauling the app.

Brent Taylor

Thursday 28th of May 2020

A few thoughts. You know, it's me to do so.

All this talk of documenting, taking pictures and screenshots, etc rather flies in the face of discussions about bags with zippers/velcro, saving time, being efficient, etc. The fact is -- if I accept an order it's going to be picked up as fast as I can get there and it is ready for me to take, put in a hot/cold bag, find the customer and give it to them. Every time. That's my defense. I complete every order, don't steal food, handle food as safely as possible... and handle every order/customer gracefully no matter what crap might actually be going on. In short, I do the job correctly. As you must know, when the customer has provided the wrong delivery address, and you contact them to get it correct, the only way to swipe it as delivered is go to the wrong place, swipe it delivered and then (hopefully there's an extra tip involved) pause the app and take it where they want it. I've done that. Extra mile stuff. Other things like that. I do a good job. Again, that's my defense.

What I cannot control is restaurants not apportioning their labor correctly to service carry out/delivery efficiently (long waits), not putting everything in bags they seal that I cannot check or not assembling items correctly (hold the mayo, etc)... Can't control customers that are trying to rip-off the system. Thankfully no one has yet claimed they didn't get orders I know were delivered. But I more than suspect that happens.

Doordash's app has problems! No news there. My peeve tonight, as I've written them in the hopes of getting my Completion Rate restored and being paid for going to restaurants the 5th, 15th and 27th, having to Unassign orders respectively for 2+ hour expected waits, Walmart tomfoolery and tonight's insanity where multiple dashers were sent to Red Robin, repeatedly (I accepted, declined and unassigned 7 orders for 3 customers) for the same apparently non-existent orders.

What you failed to discuss, in that way back time machine, is DD used to ask and take feedback on orders not ready, etc. They still ask why you decline, why you unassign, how the delivery went... are you really at the restaurant? really at the customer's home (GPS disagrees)? really headed to either (when, aside from flying, there is no more direct route)?... nobody is reading this stuff (and certainly not in real time where it would mean anything)...

So what your article amounts to is that DD is messed up, they're screwing with our livelihood, and we'd better have other options because the trend isn't looking favorable that they're proactively aware of these problems or they'll be fixed. Yeah. Alas. It's so.

ronald.l.walter

Thursday 28th of May 2020

You make a great point about efficiency. You're totally right, I'm all about that velcro lid and stuff like that so you can get in and out, and the sad thing is Doordash is the only one where I'm seeing issues of people reporting the food hasn't been delivered to the extent they are. Maybe it's just easier for people to scam Doordash than it is the others?

But you're right, it does slow you down to have to take the picture and all that. Fortunately things like screen shots are quick and easy and you can do them while walking to the car. But we shouldn't HAVE to do that kind of documentation.

I do like that when you decide to unassign on Uber Eats, you can choose "excessive wait time" as a reason. They also pay for actual time - Doordash MAY give you a pittance. But the stuff you said about all the asking - are you there yet? are you headed there? did you get the condiments? It kinda sounds like controlling the worker to me.

I think you've got the right conclusion. Bottom line is Doordash doesn't care about us, they'll just get someone else to take our place. I kinda look at it like they're one of those cranky customers that if they walk away I'm not too hurt. I can't make enough by doing things the way they want me to do things, so I look at them as the customer at a store who demands they be sold stuff at below cost. But it's all this control stuff they're doing though that is going to get them in trouble - they're kinda moving past Grubhub in how they try to force compliance.

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