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Morning Spew

DoorDash Throws a Tip Tantrum

DoorDash shuffles its tip prompter, and more links to enhance your Tuesday.

8:59 AM EST on December 5, 2023

A delivery driver in NYC checks her phone
(Hell Gate)

In spite of a concerted lobbying effort and last-ditch lawsuits by app companies like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber, as of Monday, delivery drivers in New York City will now receive a minimum of $17.96 for every hour they work (up to $19.96 by April 2025) after a judge upheld legislation that should have gone into effect back in July

That's good news for the men and women who zip around the city ferrying Chick-fil-A and pad thai, but devastating news for the employers who have to pay up—according to those employers. "We're disappointed the City pushed through a rule that eliminates jobs, discourages tipping, and forces couriers to go faster and accept more trips," a spokesperson for Uber told Gothamist, before adding that the company was glad a wage hike could help delivery drivers afford e-bikes that don't catch on fire

Uber isn't the only company with a quick response to the wage increase for its workers. On Monday, DoorDash published a press release and an FAQ, aimed at its drivers, explaining that it was moving a prompt on its app so that customers are only asked to add a tip after their food has been delivered, as opposed to the previous setup, where tip was set prior to delivery.

"These new regulations will force us to increase fees for orders placed in New York City and this change helps to prepare for balancing the impact of these new costs," the app company said in its message to its workers. Balance for whom, exactly? Workers previously retained 100 percent of their tips, which means moving the prompt feels like a way to excuse customers from tipping in light of the wage increase—an effort to stop people from seeing a delivery charge increase and deciding they can actually pick up the phone and order directly from a restaurant or just walk to get takeout instead.

The language in DoorDash's public-facing missive was more forceful. "As we have repeatedly made clear in recent months, the ill-conceived, extreme minimum pay rate for food delivery workers in New York City will have significant consequences for everyone who uses our platform," the statement said. "Dashers who deliver in NYC will now earn at least $29.93 per hour of active time, nearly twice NYC’s $15 minimum wage for other workers." (As the Verge pointed out, this calculation is higher than the actual, mandated raise, because DoorDash only pays its workers for the time they're actively making a delivery.) DoorDash also announced that it's pausing a program that gives drivers with higher ratings priority access to more lucrative deliveries. "We expect to have to make more changes to the platform over the coming months as we evaluate the impact of the NYC requirements," the platform said in its work-facing FAQ. "Look out for more messages on how this impacts your dashing experience."

It makes sense that DoorDash and other companies are salty—they just lost the minimum wage battle after around six months of lawsuits trying to block the legislation codifying this pay raise. A judge ruled against Uber, DoorDash, and GrubHub in September, and their final attempt and appeal failed last Thursday when an appeals court upheld the law, locking in the wage hike.

So don't let DoorDash's sneaky tip reformatting fool you. Next time you're choking down a breakfast burrito the day after a punishingly fun night out or inhaling sushi during your five-minute break between meetings, take 10 seconds to reopen DoorDash and tip the person who brought you your food—because nothing tastes as good as sticking it to an exploitative employer feels.

Some links to chew on:

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