May 18, 2022

Delivery apps step in to help drivers hit by high gas prices

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions against the aggressor country are already wreaking economic havoc around the world. Inflation is on the rise, driving up the prices of basic necessities like food, medicine and fuel. Nationally, these added financial strains are being felt deeply by gig economy workers and delivery drivers who are now struggling to stay on the road when gasoline costs an average of $4.41 a gallon at national scale. In response, some delivery apps have extended financial lifelines to the “independent contractors” their businesses rely on – but not all of them, and not entirely without issue.

Instacart is the latest service to adjust its prices in response, announcing Friday morning that it will institute a 40-cent-per-order surcharge “over the next month” to help offset rising costs for its drivers, which have seen an increase of 71 cents since February 28.

Uber has already imposed its own fuel surcharge, although the amount depends on the state the driver is in and the distance traveled. Basically, the surcharge for a passenger Uber ride will be between $0.45 and $0.55 per ride, while having food brought to you instead of the other way around will incur an additional charge of $0.35 at $0.45 each way. The charge went into effect Wednesday and will be reassessed in 60 days, according to the company. Uber, a beacon of fair labor practices, assured that the additional costs would go directly to the drivers. And yes, stingy, the surcharge applies even if you and/or your food are riding in an EV.

Almost identically, Lyft announced on Monday that it will charge a flat fee of $0.55 per ride — ICE vehicle or not — starting next week and leave it in place for 60 days. Additionally, drivers can get a 4-6% discount on gas through June if they use the company’s branded debit card.

“We are closely monitoring the rise in gas prices and its impact on our driving community,” CJ Macklin, senior director of communications at Lyft, told Engadget in a statement. “Overall, driver earnings remain strong compared to last year, but given rapidly rising fuel prices, we will be asking passengers to pay a temporary fuel surcharge, which will go entirely to the drivers. .

DoorDash also has a similar cashback scheme in place for its drivers, although you might want to grab a pencil and calculator before trying to go through it.

“From March 17, Doordash drivers will be able to receive 10% cash back on gas purchases, but only if they are enrolled on the company’s DasherDirect Visa cards,” says Engadget reporter Amrita Khalid. “In addition to this, drivers who drive a certain number of miles per week will be eligible for weekly gas rewards, ranging from $5 to $15 per week. To unlock the $5 rebate, drivers must complete at least 100 miles of trips in a week. Drivers who total more than 225 miles of trips will earn a weekly bonus of $15.”

This translates to about $2 in rewards per gallon, depending on how far a Dasher travels.

Amazon Flex workers – drivers who use their own vehicles to make deliveries for the online retailer’s Prime, Whole Foods and Fresh branded orders – have, unsurprisingly, been largely left to manage those prices. higher fuel. “We have already made several adjustments through price increases in affected areas to help alleviate some of the financial challenges,” an Amazon spokesperson said. MSNBC Thursday. “As the situation evolves, we will continue to make changes where we can to help support our partners.” The company is “monitoring the situation closely,” the spokesperson said.

Engadget has reached out to Caviar (owned by DoorDash), GrubHub, Postmates (owned by Uber) and Shipt for comment and will update this post based on their responses.

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