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Is Para Dead? What happened to Tip Transparency and What’s Next?

Para became a household name almost overnight in the delivery driver community, thanks to their Tip Transparency feature.

With the tip transparency feature on the Para app, drivers could know the full amount of a Doordash delivery offer.

Until Doordash killed that ability. It looks like the feature is dead for good.

Let's talk about Para:

  • What was tip transparency and how did it work?
  • Why did Para quit working?
  • Is Para dead?
  • What's next for Para?
A tombstone with the words etched RIP Tip Transparency 2021 - 2021. We hardly knew ye.

What was trip transparency and how did it work?

Tip Transparency was a feature that could reveal the hidden tip on a Doordash delivery offer.

Doordash often hides part of the amount that a delivery offer will pay. If the tip is larger (usually more than $5) Doordash will often present a smaller amount when sending the offer to Dashers.

For example, if the delivery would pay $18 ($3 delivery fee and $15 tip) Doordash might send an offer for $8. The offer screen tells you that the “total may be higher.”

Screenshot of a Doordash delivery offer that gives a price but says the Total May be Higher.

Many Dashers feel it would be fair if they knew the total amount that a delivery was offering. Some of these offers don't fall within the range they would normally accept for the distance and time involved. They feel like they could earn more if they knew when some of those offers were better paying.

Doordash is not alone in this. Uber Eats has an $8 cap on the portion of the tip that is included in the delivery offer. Doordash's cap seems to be closer to $5, sometimes lower. To their credit, at least they are honest about it (where Uber Eats will tell you that the customer changed their tip even when it didn't happen).

Para was able to figure out a way to identify if a delivery offer included a hidden tip amount. They created a feature where you could get a notification showing what the actual pay of a delivery offer would be.

The screenshot below shows how the actual pay information is overlaid as a notification over the Doordash offer screen.

A Doordash delivery offer, with a notification overlay at the top showing the pay breakdown of total $6.00, tip $3.00.

How did Tip Transparency on the Para app work?

When Doordash sends an offer to your phone, all of the information about that offer is sent with it in a stream of data.

The information includes all of the things you see on the offer screen: Restaurant, offer amount, distance, number of items and the deadline for completing the delivery.

A lot of other information is also sent to your phone. This is information that the app uses in later stages of the delivery. This way, the app already has all the information it needs to display things like customer information, and until recently, the final payment amount.

The way tip transparency worked is that you log into your Doordash account through the Para app. Doing so allows the Para app to see the same stream of data that's sent to the Dasher app.

Included in all of that information that was sent to your phone with the offer was a breakdown of the pay (base pay, promotions, and tip). Because Para could see all of that information, they could identify what the final pay of a delivery was going to be.

That would allow them to provide a notification like in the screenshot above. That notification tells you the Doordash pay as well as the actual tip amount.

Myth busting: what Para could NOT do

Facts surrounded by myths concept illustrated by brown paper, with the word Myths printed several times and a section torn away to reveal the word Facts.

There are a lot of mistaken ideas about what Para could do, including:

  • Logging into your account gives Para the ability to hack Doordash's servers
  • Para can get your banking information
  • You're giving access to your personal information
  • Para now has your password and login for your Doordash account.

None of these are correct.

All that logging into your account does is gives Para the same ability you have access to.

You are not able to hack into Doordash servers through your log in. Neither can Para.

You cannot access your own bank account information through your log in. Neither can Para.

You have no way of getting your social security information from the Para app. Neither does Para.

In fact, Para does not store your log in information. In the same way your phone stays logged in for several days, your logging into your account through Para keeps them connected to your log in.

If you've used Para much, you know that you have to re-log in regularly. That's because Para doesn't have that information stored in their servers. It's kind of like typing in your login information to let a friend or family member use your Netflix account.

The one thing a person logged into your account can do is attempt to change bank deposit information. But even then, they have to have access to the verification code from two factor authentication. They can't get it without you.

Remember how tip transparency works: It uses information that Doordash sends out. It does not go into Doordash servers to get any information.

Why did Para quit working?

Obviously, Doordash decided to double down on keeping part of your tips hidden.

At some point, the information Para was showing to some Dashers was no different than the offer totals. Over time, more and more Para users were getting the same thing.

The reason the change was so gradual was it was happening as Doordash pushed out an app update. As Para users updated the app, Para quit showing the hidden tip information for them.

What happened is Doordash changed the information they were sending out when sending an offer to your phone. They quit sending the total payout right away. Instead, they sent that information later in the delivery process.

It wasn't that the Para app itself quit working. Para was working fine. It was just impossible for them to display the hidden payment amount because that information was no longer available.

It's very similar to how many Dashers used to use an older version of the Dasher app to get full payout information. Eventually Doordash figured out that was happening and changed the way they sent information in such a way that the old version 5.63.6 no longer worked.

The bottom line is, Doordash is committed to keeping a portion of the pay hidden.

Is Para dead?

No.

Tip transparency is dead, may it rest in peace.

Vintage typewriter, with the words THE END typed out in red ink.

Unless Doordash reverts back to their old way of doing things, it won't be possible for Para or any other app to pull that information. The Tip Transparency feature is no longer possible.

But that doesn't mean Para is dead.

This is because tip transparency was never meant to be the core product for Para. David Pickerell, CEO of Para, was on the Deliver on Your Business podcast in December, 2020, well before Para introduced this feature.

We're in the process of building out a suite of tools. The purpose is to put you in charge basically. To arm you with the data, to arm you with automation and to sort of just build a tech tool that can push back a little on the tech tools of the platforms.“

David Pickerell of Para on Episode 102 of Deliver on Your Business podcast

Para, which uses the @GigSmarter handle on Twitter, grew to nearly 200,000 users at the height of the tip transparency feature. To say that growth was unexpected is an understatement. However, the number of users has dropped substantially now that the full payout is no longer available.

The long term goal for Para, as David stated on the podcast, is to build out a suite of tools. Their vision is of a more comprehensive app that goes beyond just one feature.

What's next for Para?

Stack of newspapers, with the headline What's Next? on the top page.

Para pivoted immediately to introduce a tip predictor feature. With literally millions of delivery records at their disposal, it's possible to identify patterns showing when it's likely a delivery will pay more than offered.

The bigger picture for Para is that they want to develop a personal dispatch system for drivers. The idea is to create a one stop shop that can help drivers manage offers and information from multiple applications.

I think they're at a crossroads, because Para has been polarizing. Or maybe it's more that the issues around the use of apps like Para are polarizing.

One side feels like drivers have a right to be told the total payout. The other side feels that using Para is cheating. There doesn't seem to be a lot of in between. The latter group looks at the end of Tip Transparency as a failure. The former understand it as just the end of a feature.

But this is why I feel they're at a crossroads. I think a lot of drivers are willing to try something again once. But if the next thing Para introduces doesn't go over so well, will they get a third chance?

I think the final result depends on how they approach it from here. Para can rebound if whatever they do next is a home run. A lot depends on how well they cast their vision and communicate the bigger picture of what they want to do. If the message is about something bigger and they show clear progress towards that bigger thing, they can do well.

It really depends a lot on how well they develop that message, how well they deliver it, and what tangible progress they can make towards that bigger picture.

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