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Uber Eats Punishing Low Acceptance Rates by Hiding Upfront Address Information.

Uber Eats has started hiding upfront address information in some markets for drivers with less than a 50 percent acceptance rate. At this point it appears to be a test.

Drivers in the test markets who have rejected more than five of their last ten offers will no see all of the delivery information when offered a delivery. The restaurant name and address, as well as customer cross street information, will all be hidden.

The only way to receive all of that information is to maintain a 50% or higher acceptance rate.

How do we respond as drivers? Is it worth it to keep delivering for Uber Eats? Should we keep our acceptance rate high on Uber Eats in order to get all that information?

We'll examine this change that Uber Eats is testing. In this article, we'll look at the following:

  • How exactly Uber Eats is hiding information for some drivers with low acceptance rates
  • Is it legal for Uber Eats to do this?
  • Could this backfire on Uber Eats?
  • Is it worth it to keep your acceptance rate higher on Uber Eats?
  • What delivery strategies can we use if this happens to us?

Cartoon image of an arm pointing to the right, with Uber on the sleeve, and of three Uber Eats couriers with wind-up keys walking that direction and over a cliff.

How exactly Uber Eats is hiding information for some drivers with low acceptance rates

Uber Eats announced to several couriers in certain markets that they would no longer be able to see upfront address information unless they have accepted five or more of the last ten offers they received.

Drivers in the tested areas received the following email:

Take trips to get upfront addresses on Uber Eats

Accept 5 out of every 10 trips to continue getting upfront information.

When couriers repeatedly reject trip requests, everything slows down. Restaurants wait longer for food to be picked up, customers wait longer for their orders to be delivered, and other couriers often have to travel farther on each trip.

Couriers who accept most of the requests they receive help improve the Uber Eats epxerience for everyone on the platform. So now pickup and dropoff addresses will be shown up front only to couriers who accept at least 5 out of every 10 trip requests.

How it works

The number of trips you've accepted goes up each time you accept a request, and it goes down each time you decline — or accept then cancel — a request.

Track progress

You can track your progress in real time on your homescreen. The number of trips you've accepted doesn't reset when you go offline.

Cancellations

If you accept and then cancel a trip request, it counts as rejecting the trip. If you accept a trip request and your customer or the restaurant cancels it, it counts as an accepted trip for you.

Your feedback matters

Not all couriers in your city will be receiving this message or seeing these changes, because we're still testing them. That's why your opinion is so important. Please help us by sharing your feedback here.

Uber Eats email sent to couriers informing them address information will be hidden if a 50% acceptance rate is not maintained.

How these changes are happening in real life.

Before we go any further, understand that this is only a test.

At least right now, anyway.

“Not all couriers in your city will be receiving this message or seeing these changes, because we're still testing them.”

I don't think anyone knows whether this will spread or become a nationwide thing. Only time will tell.

But here's how it appears to be working for those who are in the test group:

1. Uber Eats will begin tracking how many of the last ten offers you accepted.

Uber Eats will begin displaying a count of how many of the last delivery offers were accepted. That information will show up at the top center of the screen, where you typically see things like your total earnings, or where you can scroll to see most recent pay, or Uber Pro status, or Quest status, etc.

screenshot of an Uber Eats acceptance rate, showing how many of the last ten offers were accepted and a warning that says Accpet at least 5 of your last 10 requests to get upfront trip details.

2. Once a courier has rejected more than five of the last ten deliveries, Uber Eats stops showing certain upfront trip details.

Uber Eats typically shows several details when they offer a delivery, including:

  • A map showing pickup and drop-off locations
  • The expected pay for the delivery
  • Estimated time to complete the delivery
  • Estimated miles for the delivery
  • Name and location of the restaurant
  • Cross streets near the customer
Screenshot of an Uber Eats offer showing a map of the pickup and dropoff locations, restaurant, customer and pay information.

In my opinion, Uber Eats has lately provided the best information on which to make a decision.

This has been an evolution of sorts. As of the end of 2019, you had no idea where a delivery was going (not even a map), where you were picking up, or how much it would pay.

Screenshots of the evolution of the offer screen from Uber Eats, going from very little information to the best in the industry.

As an independent contractor, information is critically important when it comes to making decisions about whether to accept or reject an offer. Doordash has received a lot of criticism for their lack of transparency in the information they provide. Even Uber Eats has been known to hide tip information.

However, if anyone that is part of this test rejects six or more of their last ten orders, they will no longer receive the complete set of information.

Screenshot of Uber Eats offer screen that is omitting restaurant and customer information.
Offer screen from Uber Eats hiding upfront address information for the customer and the restaurant.

In the screenshot above, you can see the difference in the information provided. It's much more like the early days of Uber Eats: You have no information about the restaurant, nor do you have the cross streets for the customer.

UberEats does still provide the expected pay, as well as the estimated time and distance to complete the delivery.

3. Accept more offers if you want to get more information.

A carrot hung from a stick.

Uber then dangles that extra information like a carrot on a stick. Want more information? Accept more offers. As soon as you have accepted five of the last ten offers, they will display the full set of information.

Is it legal for Uber Eats to do this?

Technically, there is nothing illegal about this.

There is no law requiring any of these companies to provide specific information when they offer a delivery. They are not required to provide a price, or location information, or anything like that.

The thing to remember here is that this is an independent contractor relationship. It's a business to business relationship. You are a business providing services to another business (Uber). Each delivery offer is a business opportunity that they are presenting to you.

This provides certain freedoms for you. You are not required to accept any offer they present to you.

The flip side of that is, they don't have to present information in a way that is best suited for you.

Here's an example. We just bought a new home and had a painter come in. I could have just approached the painter and said hey, I'll give you $1,000 to paint my new place. Will you take that offer?

I don't have to provide any more information than that. There is no law that says I have to tell him anything about how big the place is or anything like that. At the same time, there's nothing that says the painter has to accept my offer. It's a private business arrangement, and if the painter accepts the offer without knowing what he's getting into, that's his decision.

Under current law, our relationship with Uber Eats is much the same way. They don't have to provide more information. And we don't have to accept an offer that doesn't give us the information.

The legal risks of control and independent contractor misclassification.

A printed survey question asking Do you know about misclassification? with a hand checking off the Yes box.

As I mentioned, there is no specific law preventing Uber Eats from doing this.

However, there is a certain legal risk if Uber decides to stick with this model.

The biggest legal challenge that companies like Uber, Doordash, Lyft and others face is whether it's legal for them to use independent contractors instead of employees.

The bottom line is, a company is not allowed to just call someone an independent contractor rather than hire them as an employee. Doing so is called misclassification. It's a huge legal issue for gig economy companies.

There's a line between when you can use an independent contractor and when you have to hire employees. Unfortunately, that line is not well defined. There's been a huge legal fight in California over this issue, with laws like AB5 and Prop 22 trying to settle the issue.

As much as the laws differ, there's one common thread that is agreed upon: A company cannot control the work of an independent contractor in the way they can an employee. That principle is an important part of the IRS definition of an independent contractor.

And that's where this move by Uber creates a certain amount of risk. Is this a way of them trying to tell you how many orders you have to take?

Determining whether this is a form of control.

You could argue it both ways. On one hand, Uber is not requiring you to accept orders. They're offering an incentive to encourage drivers to take more offers. In a lot of ways this is like Doordash's Top Dasher or Grubhub's Premier level: it's an extra that's offered if you do accept more orders.

Here's how I look at incentives like this and whether they cross the line of control: Can you run your business well without those incentives?

I do just fine without Top Dasher or Premier status. However, is the information critical enough that I can't really make good decisions without it? If I want to run my business well, am I forced to take more offers now so that I can do so?

That's when it becomes a matter of control. This particular move is really close to crossing that line.

But this is the problem with defining control: What I just gave is my own definition. The problem is that “control” is very loosely defined.

What Uber is doing here is definitely manipulative. But is it control?

Ultimately, that's a question that will end up being answered by a judge or jury. It will have to be decided in some form of misclassification lawsuit. This particular practice will be presented as evidence. It may or may not be the straw that breaks the camel's back – the one thing that sways the opinion of whoever decides.

Unfortunately it's not blatant enough to be able to definitively claim that yes, that crosses the legal line of control. It's something that may eventually be a judgment call.

However, I think that gig companies are walking a fine line here. It's definitely something that pushes Uber closer to that line.

Could this backfire on Uber Eats?

It's possible. Which probably explains why they're testing it first.

In my opinion, it's a really bad idea. That said, I'm a driver, not part of their team.

The one thing that haunts all of these delivery companies is, it's hard to get all their orders fulfilled. Customers are unhappy when their orders get cancelled. Even more, if restaurants make the food and no one picks it up, it's costly for them as well.

That said, I have no sympathy for any of them. They chose to do things on the cheap, and this is where it catches up with them. They can't force contractors to take orders. However, using contractors was their choice.

This is a test to see if they can improve acceptance rates. If it works, they'll test it out in more markets, and then possibly roll it out nationwide.

However, it could have the opposite effect. The question is, how many drivers will they lose over this? Will the loss of drivers (considering how hard it is to get enough people to deliver in the first place) offset the improvement in acceptance rate?

I think there's a bigger picture issue here as well. Rideshare companies are having a hard time getting drivers to come back, and I don't think the issue is a safety issue. Uber and Lyft have burned so many bridges from the way they've treated drivers that they can't meet the demand now.

I bring this up because I think these gig companies believe there's an unlimited supply of contractors out there. Rideshare is finding out that's not true, and I have a feeling that the delivery sector is not far behind.

Alienating too many drivers with this practice could could make it even harder to fulfill orders than it is now.

Is it worth it to keep your acceptance rate higher on Uber Eats to keep that up front information?

This is a decision you have to make for yourself.

In my opinion, it absolutely is not. In fact, if this were to happen in my market, I refuse to increase my acceptance rate and reward them for this practice.

Remember that all of this is market driven. There is no law that requires Uber Eats to offer a fair price, or to offer it in a reasonable manner. But it's just like the example I used earlier of hiring a painter – there's no requirement that we accept what they are doing.

Having said all that, I understand you may see things differently. I understand that. How do you determine if it's worth it to improve acceptance rate?

I think you have to determine the cost of accepting more and the cost of losing the information.

Related article: Is Uber Eats a Good Job?

How could it cost more to accept more offers?

Put simply, if you take a half hour on a $3 delivery as opposed to fifteen minutes on a $10 delivery, that's a huge difference in what you can earn. I say this often: we set our prices by accepting and rejecting offers. We determine which offers meet our price and which ones don't.

In the end, you have to look at what you are earning where you are. If you're accepting less than half your offers now, how much less do you think you would make if you took more offers?

If you generally make $30 per hour taking two out of every ten offers, and you would maybe make $20 per hour if you took half your orders, that cost is $10 per hour.

How do you determine that cost? That's not as easy.

My approach when evaluating deliveries is to ask how much it pays per minute. You have to look at an offer and try to estimate how much time it will take. One good thing with Uber Eats is, they give you an estimate. My experience is those estimates are not too far off.

I evaluate offers on what I think I'll make per minute. I personally use a 50 cent rule – if an offer pays 50¢ per minute ($30 per hour) it's a good one.

We'll look at the example of the screenshot I used above that offered $5.56 for 19 minutes. $5.56 divided by 19 is 29 cents per minute, or $17.40 per hour. One way you can look at it is, how much per minute do the best five offers of the last ten you received pay? If those add up to enough, 50% acceptance rate may be okay.

Comparing that to the cost of NOT taking more.

Measuring the high cost of acceptance rate against profits illustrated by an old fashioned weight scale weighing costs and profit.

Is it impossible to deliver for Uber Eats if you don't have all that information?

Are Grubhub, Doordash, and others a better option than what you would make on Uber Eats if you were to accept half your offers on them?

I will tell you that for nearly a year and a half as a full time courier, I did not touch Uber Eats. That's because back then, they didn't tell me where I'm picking up OR where I was going. Without that information, it was impossible to determine if it was a good offer.

One thing to keep in mind is that Uber Eats is NOT taking away ALL of the relevant information. I'm not happy about losing the restaurant information, because some restaurants I won't touch. However, they still give the estimate for time and distance. Depending on how reliable the time estimates are in your market, that can still help you determine when there's a good offer.

Here's my comparison: Right the average order on Uber Eats that I accept is better than with anyone else. However, if I took half of the offers I received, I'd be making less than on the other platforms. For me, I'm better off delivering for Doordash or Grubhub than I am running a 50% acceptance rate. At the same time, I could still find good offers on Uber Eats. That means in my situation, it is NOT worth taking a higher acceptance rate.

Every market is different and ever person's situation is different. If you don't have the other options like Doordash or Grubhub, things could be different for you.

What delivery strategies can we use if this happens to us?

What can you do if you're in a market where they are testing this? I have a few thoughts:

Remember that this is a test.

Uber Eats is trying to find out if this will improve things. How we respond will determine whether this is a good plan.

If we accept more offers because of it, we're telling Uber Eats that this is okay to do.

You have to make your own decision, but here's what I would do if it happened in my area: My acceptance rate is going much much lower. I'll shift even more of my deliveries to Doordash and Grubhub but I will keep the Uber Eats app on. Only now I'm getting way more picky.

Remember that we're running a business.

I gave the example of having my home painted earlier. I'm free to offer a job to a painter without giving him any details about the house. Every painter that I can think of would laugh in my face at that. There's no way they're taking a job without knowing what they're getting into.

Why do we think we should be any different?

Uber Eats made the decision to contract with you as a business rather than to hire you as an employee. They can't have their cake and eat it too.

Unless we let them.

As I mentioned before, they also had a long history of providing far less information than anyone else. Why do you think they started providing more information? There's a very competitive landscape out there for drivers, and with everyone going to Doordash or Grubhub instead of Uber Eats because they provide the information necessary for making decisions, Uber had no choice but to change things up.

If we were running any other kind of business, we would not just blindly accept a business opportunity.

I honestly believe that if enough contractors took seriously enough the fact that we're running a business here and treated it that way, the market would force more changes. Uber would discover that they can't get enough orders fulfilled because there aren't enough people that will blindly take orders.

Diversify

I say this over and over again.

You're running a business. Whether you believe you are or not is a different story. The moment you agreed to be a contractor, you agreed that you're running a business.

No business should rely on one source of income.

What are the other opportunities out there? There's more than just Doordash and Grubhub. A lot of small regional companies are out there. Look into catering and package delivery options.

When we become too dependent on one company as our source of income, we give them too much power and more freedom to pull stunts like this.

Use the information that you do still have

The good news is that Uber isn't taking ALL information away.

In fact, I think price and estimated time are the most important bits of information on the Uber offer screen.

Those things remain.

Granted, knowing the restaurant is going to tell you a lot about how fast or slow a delivery will be. That may be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

But there's still enough information to be able to pick out the best opportunities out there. Personally, I feel like the lack of information is going to make me even pickier about what I do accept.

Sometimes you have to make the ultimate business decision

The one drawback to being an independent contractor is, there are no guarantees.

Any time you start a business of any kind, you have to deal with that. The business may not make it.

Sometimes the smartest business decision is deciding to say when. There comes a point where it no longer makes sense.

Maybe it's time to move to a competitor. Or maybe the other options are just not that great. Unfortunately when you run a business, if the market no longer supports your business at the level that you need it to, it's smarter to close up shop.

The final decision is yours.

For someone like me who works a lot of different apps, it's a lot easier to say “just say no.”

I know it's different if that's your only source of income. Maybe Doordash and others are not options.

It's my opinion that the worst thing we can do is reward Uber Eats with a higher acceptance rate. I feel like they're crossing the line by doing this.

But the thing is: that's my opinion.

In the end, if this happens to you, you've got to make some decisions. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

Alex

Wednesday 26th of January 2022

Hey there, Congrats for the article. It was so much fun to read it, and I agree with you almost 100%. As an Ubereats driver delivering on my spare time and one of those lucky ones to be selected with the 5/10 upfront address rule, I said goodbye to Ubereats and moved to DoorDash. I didn't think too much about if maintaining the 5/10 would be smart for me or not. I tried it for about two weeks and my earnings got dropped significantly while trying to maintain the 5/10 rate. So, it was no brainer for me. If DoorDash decides to do something similar, then I will try something else. I agree that there are many options out there. There will always be something that works for us.

EntreCourier

Saturday 29th of January 2022

Thanks for the comment! It seems like they're all trying to figure out how far they can go in trying to coerce us into taking a higher percentage of orders. Doordash is being a bit more subtle, their trick is to just put your Dash on pause if you reject too many deliveries. Fortunately you can just resume the dash, but lately I've heard of them just ending the dash on some people. Always hard to know how accurate that is.

The worst part is that it seems like this thing is spreading. I've kinda gone from hoping it's a test to thinking it might eventually be implemented everywhere. If it happens here, I may not stop delivering entirely for them, but I'll be even more picky about which ones I take. Unfortunately I think there are too many drivers who will cave.

Comments are closed.
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