UberEats Pros and Cons
Many new UberEats drivers find themselves asking a very simple question: is UberEats worth it? Uber has a well-earned reputation for disruption—though, not always in a positive context. Recently, Uber has offered its drivers a new way to earn an income: delivering food. Drivers who operate under the UberEats banner work via the same app and basic conditions as any other Uber drive.
And that setup seems enticing. UberEats claims that their drivers make, on average, between $8-$12 an hour, which seems to make the service competitive with other food delivery services. But there is some question as to whether the economic prospects for workers employed by UberEats truly improve. In other words, is UberEats worth the time, the training, the fuel, and the mileage?
How Much Does UberEats Pay?
The average pay for UberEats drivers can vary widely, even if the average does stay within that $8-12 range. Some drivers may earn as little as $20.00 over three hours of work, while other drivers may make substantially more. The “average pay” often cited by UberEats does not generally consider variables that have a substantial impact on overall pay, such as:
- Time of day: UberEats driver who work during meal-rush times (such as lunch or dinner) often end up making more money in the long run.
- Population density: The denser the population is, the faster deliveries can be made—and the more deliveries most drivers typically have.
- Driver density: The driver to population is also incredibly important. Drivers can find it difficult to make enough deliveries to reach that $8-12 range when there are too many other UberEats drivers around.
- Gratuity: Generally speaking, gratuity for UberEats drivers is incredibly difficult to predict and can have a substantial impact on final take-home pay.
There are several online communities, mostly unofficial and hosted on websites such as Reddit, dedicated to helping UberEats drivers maximize their possible income—or at least commiserate when that income in difficult to come by.
Does a Tip Count as Income?
In recent months, delivery service InstaCart, which—just as UberEats does—delivers food from restaurants to diner’s doors, came under fire for its handling of driver tips. Here’s how it worked: InstaCart promised all its drivers at least $10 per delivery. That seems reasonable! But what most consumers didn’t realize is that InstaCart counted any tips given to the drivers towards that $10.
So, if a consumer tipped $2 on a delivery, InstaCart would only pay its drivers $8 (meeting that $10 minimum). Because most consumers intend tips to be a bonus added on top of any base salary, this policy caused significant outcry. Eventually, InstaCart noticed the pressure and revised their tip and payment policy.
However, rival companies DoorDash and Amazon Flex have very similar policies. And if recent news reports are any indication, these two competitors have no intention of changing their tip policy any time soon. Without a concerted reform effort, therefore, it’s difficult to envision an end to such exploitative pay practices across food delivery brands.
UberEats pay model does not seem completely analogous to some of its competitors, such as DoorDash or Amazon Flex. But there are some similarities; all these services are able to pay drivers less than minimum wage because they are, technically, contract workers. That doesn’t mean all UberEats drivers make less than minimum wage every day—it simply means that UberEats is under no legal obligation to ensure drivers are paid a minimum amount.
As a company, Uber has had a difficult time managing its reputation. Once the darling of Silicon Valley for its “disruptive” approach to technology, Uber’s top management was hit with scandal after scandal (usually involving inappropriate behavior of some kind).
While it has since tried to manage its reputation, Uber has come under fire for low payment for drivers in recent months (there was even an organized action designed to draw attention to the problem). Whether, in an effort to treat its drivers more fairly or improve its reputation, Uber and UberEats improve overall driver pay remains to be seen.
A Reliable Career?
Whether UberEats is worth it, ultimately, depends most significantly on your own financial situation and career goals. For some delivery drivers, UberEats might represent a lucrative opportunity. For others, UberEats might make for an overall frustrating experience; it can be difficult for those inexperienced in the profession to know which end of the spectrum to expect.
And UberEats does not seem to be terribly interested in making that experience any easier for new drivers. As with many occupations in the gig economy, whether UberEats is worth it or not is difficult to quantity and nearly impossible to predict—creating more and more economic uncertainty for all consumers.