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Why your DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats order may be late

Unwritten 'no tip, no trip' rule may come into play
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Posted at 4:34 PM, Mar 02, 2021

A growing number of people are complaining about late food delivery, as much as two hours late.

It turns out that the way you place your order may be the reason for those late deliveries in many cases.

Hana Chu is the co-owner of an Asian restaurant, KungFood Chu. She says more and more customers are complaining about late and cold food.

"Some customers are saying it is taking over two hours. We will make the food within 15 minutes, and it is just sitting there cold before a driver finally shows up," Chu lamented.

It's not just driver shortages

Delivery apps Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash have been swamped with orders during the pandemic, and they say a record-breaking number of orders and driver shortages sometimes lead to longer wait times.

But there may be another reason: How much you tip.

Jason Barlow drives for several delivery services and talks with other drivers daily.

"The most common reason I hear for late orders is 'no tip, no trip,'" he said.

Barlow and "Kate," another driver who did not want to share her last name, both told us that if an order does not appear to have a tip on it, it may sit for 30 minutes in the restaurant before anyone picks it up.

"If I see an order coming through that has no tip on it, I will decline that order," Kate said. "It will be offered to the next closest person, and then that person can choose to take it or decline it."

She agreed to an interview only if we did not say which services she drives for.

So, how do drivers know how much you are tipping? Barlow says with most delivery services, drivers are not told in advance how much tip they are going to receive.

No tip, no trip T Shirt

No tip? Driver barely makes any money

But he says if an order shows it's only going to pay $3, $4 or $5 to the driver, they will assume you are not tipping, and may pass on delivering your order.

"Sometimes it's not even worth it," Kate said. "You just work for free after paying for gas."

As for making money on a $3 delivery fee, Barlow said, "Realistically, no, you don't."

Delivery services show customers a suggested tip on their app. Or you can write "cash tip" in the comment section, but Barlow says he has experienced some cases where people promise a cash tip but then give nothing.

Barlow and and Kate suggest you be generous with your tip, saying, "You are more likely to get your food faster."

Delivery services each have their own incentive programs to get drivers to take an order, even if it has no tip on it. In some cases, they will boost the driver fee if it seems no one is picking it up so that it doesn't languish on a counter all night.

But if you are a frugal customer, you may want to think again about being stingy with tips.

When it comes to restaurant servers or drivers, this is one case where you should open your wallet a little bit more, to help your driver earn a living wage.

That way you get your food quickly, and you don't waste your money.

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