Working For Postmates as a College Student
As a busy college student it can be tough working a normal job, especially when you have classes from 8am-4pm everyday and have loads of reading and homework afterwards. Postmates can be pretty luring when deciding on a “part time” job. Postmates is similar to Uber in the way that drivers are independent contractors that work whenever they want and the amount you earn can vary depending on how much you work, but instead of driving people you’re delivering food or products to people. If you’re considering working for Postmates and live in Arizona, you might want to read this first.
Over the summer of 2016 and my 1st semester of grad school at ASU I worked Postmates in the Phoenix area. I also gathered a lot of data and have made some calculations for a supply chain paper, so that’s where all of this came from.
Here’s some data from 3 different shifts I did working for Postmates:
Low Pay & Out of Pocket Expenses
You can see that on average I spent 38 minutes on a delivery, and I spent about 3 ½ hours on a shift at a time, so that resulted in about 6 orders completed per shift and $39.39 at the end of the 3 hours including tip. That sadly means I was only making $10.73 per hour. $8.59 if you don’t include tip (and believe me, most people don’t). This doesn’t even take into consideration the gas money you’ve spent driving everywhere and the taxes you need to pay at the end of the year. You’re also responsible for any car repairs and of course your own insurance. I was super excited when I first started doing Postmates because they had said you could make upward $25 an hour and I was making less than half of that.
Now I don’t blame Postmates completely for this discrepancy, I don’t think that some of their drivers in other states make $25/hour but I’m assuming it’s really difficult for an Arizona Postmate to make that much because of how spread out everything is and the time spent driving for each order.
If you look at this pie chart, you’ll see the breakdown of the time working and only about 30% of your time is spent driving to the customer, which means only 30% of your time is paid. Postmates pay scale doesn’t take into consideration the time spent waiting or driving to the pickup location, which as I experienced takes up a lot of time.
Just to clarify, downtime means time where there were no orders on queue even though I was online. Postmates tries to eliminate downtime by showing you hotspots, which are locations that are experiencing high orders and asking you to drive there. In Arizona the hotspots are Arcadia, Biltmore, Old Town Scottsdale, Mill Ave, and Downtown Phoenix.
Here’s what the app looks like for the hotspots and the Arizona delivery region.
Of course as a student with a ridiculously full schedule, making any money can be better than making no money. To be honest, the pay wouldn’t be that bad but there are a few other issues that made me not want to work Postmates anymore.
Directions Kinda Suck
The one thing that drove me crazy was driving through an apartment complex and taking 15 minutes to get in and find the right apartment. There isn’t anything on the app that asks for a gate code or building number or even the general direction of the apartment I’m looking for. This was exceptionally frustrating when the apartment complex has over 20 buildings all not noting the apartment numbers.
Lack of Support
Another thing that I hope Postmates fixes is the support they offer a Postmate that is working on an order. There isn’t a quick or easy way to contact support if you have a question or are experiencing an issue. The “help” you can get is via email or through a form you fill out on the app. I can’t directly call them. They do suggest you read the Frequently Asked Questions section.
As you can imagine, this is awful. One time I was on a Starbucks order and the customer had ordered 2 Holiday drinks during a special Postmates had for a free Holiday drink. For some reason they couldn’t/didn’t code the app to make one free and charge for the others, so both drinks said they were free. Upon opening the app it read “ ONLY BUY ONE HOLIDAY DRINK EVEN IF THE CUSTOMER ORDERS MORE.” I tried contacting support to see what if they wanted to buy the 2nd one but obviously I couldn’t contact them quick enough. I called the customer to ask which one they preferred and explained that the special was only for 1 drink and they asked if they COULD BUY THE 2ND ONE! I felt so bad but I had to say no, which was obviously bad customer service but it wasn’t like I could do anything else. Postmates also does not reimburse you for any thing you spend out of pocket.
Postmates if you’re reading this, I’d love to offer some recommendations (I got an A on my supply chain paper). If you’re a Postmate or thinking of becoming one let me know you’re thoughts.