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DoorDash Couriers Race To Make Ends Meet

Investors gorged on food delivery service DoorDash’s US stock market debut Wednesday, but thousands of its couriers struggle to earn minimal wage and juggle working for multiple app services to get by, according to one Los Angeles worker.

Driving in wealthy Marina del Rey, Devon Gutekunst scrolled through the DoorDash app and swiftly dismissed a notification offering a job that wouldn’t begin to pay the bills.

“$5.50 for 4.6 miles… which would be 30 minutes,” he told AFP. “$11 an hour, that is an automatic decline. Not enough, right?”

California’s minimum wage is $15 an hour, and Gutekunst’s policy is to “never accept anything less than that.”

“My personal minimum is $18 an hour. I often make more than that, because I have a strategy,” he explained.

Gutekunst’s plan is simple — stay local, and turn down offers that require leaving his seaside stretch and trekking across sprawling and notoriously traffic-prone Los Angeles.

He also simultaneously checks DoorDash’s rival apps, including Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates, keeping a watchful eye out for the best prospects.

“You can’t make a living on DoorDash alone,” said Gutekunst. “To make decent money… you really have to juggle, to play with all the offers to make your living.”

Thousands of DoorDash couriers struggle to earn minimal wage and juggle working for multiple app services to get by, according to one Los Angeles worker Thousands of DoorDash couriers struggle to earn minimal wage and juggle working for multiple app services to get by, according to one Los Angeles worker Photo: AFP / Eric BARADAT

As a result, his DoorDash delivery acceptance rate was only 12 percent on Wednesday, which is “very high” for him. “A lot of times it’s two percent.”

Gutekunst said he made “good money” during California’s summer Covid peak from May to August, when there was much more demand as residents stayed home.

Despite the recent return to “stay-at-home” orders in Los Angeles, it is “a little slower now.”

“Or the other possibility is the market is just flooded with too many drivers, so there are not as many orders and they give you less payment.”

Regardless of how business goes, the 27-year-old who studied film doesn’t plan to stick with delivering food for long.

“Right now decent… you can make enough money to pay rent and eat. But to basically make it a full time job, I wouldn’t recommend.”

“DoorDash, for instance, didn’t give any offers for a few hours yesterday, which obviously would not work if you’re trying to make money,” he said.

“I don’t understand why a company that is, I think, valued today over $50 billion is paying less than minimum wage,” he added. “I don’t agree with that.”

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