Many people use DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and the like to deliver food straight to their homes. During the pandemic, these services became even more necessary as people were stuck in quarantine. As with many services, the question arises: How much to tip? One delivery driver posted a video on TikTok addressing a customer who didn’t leave any tip. In it, he asked the people why they expected someone to bring them their food for free.
Delivery Driver Leaves a Note For a “Habitual No Tipper”
The delivery driver, with the TikTok handle @frenchfrythug, posted a video that got over 335,000 views before he set his account to private. In the clip, the DoorDash worker explained that when he delivered food to a non-tipper, he included a note that read: “If you can’t afford to tip then you should go pick it up yourself. Who do you think you are to order food and have someone come and bring it to your door for FREE? FOR FREE?”
In an email exchange with Insider, he explained he had worked for DoorDash since December 2020. He added that the customer he mentioned in his video was a “habitual no tipper” and he made the video to “make a statement.” In the video, he concluded that the customer could “right your wrongs below,” including his Venmo handle for the person to finally send a tip.
However, DoorDash was not pleased with his handiwork. In a statement, a spokesperson said, “This behavior is clearly inappropriate and has no place on the DoorDash platform. We are looking into this incident and will take appropriate action.”
The video created a debate online. While many agreed people should tip when they order food, many defended the no-tipping.
As one person said, “It technically wasn’t free. DoorDash paid you.”
“I never tip. I pay the service fees to DoorDash or UberEats, that’s enough. If you don’t make enough money then get a new job,” said another person.
The delivery driver explained that he didn’t normally take deliveries that don’t tip. He just accepted that one for a “learning lesson for everyone.” After the video was posted, he added how surprised he was by the comments. “I didn’t realize these many people support not tipping drivers,” he said.
The Importance of Tips
For many delivery people, tips are the majority of their payments. “I hope that people see the other side of things,” he said, “and see what it looks like to drive 10 miles and wait in an understaffed restaurant to deliver an order for $2 and no tip.” 
However, later that week, the delivery driver said that his video was a stunt in a now private video. Although the customer was a real non-tipper, he didn’t leave the note at home. “I am a troll. I was joking, the internet took it very seriously and that’s okay,” he said in the private video. 
The tipping vs no-tipping debate still stands. However, this video exposed something more sinister about the independent delivery workers. The base pay for a DoorDash delivery ranges from $2 to $10. But according to DoorDasher Mike Hayes, that it’s usually closer to $3. As in, the tips make a huge difference in making the trip worthwhile. To make matters worse, DoorDash was slammed in July 2019 for pocketing its workers’ tips.
DoorDash Under Fire For Stealing Tips
In fact, DoorDash’s tipping policy had the tips go into the base pay, instead of being added to their base pay. As a result, the delivery drivers lost money they thought they were earning. In response, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu responded in tweets. “We’re changing our model. The new model will ensure that Dashers’ earnings will increase by the exact amount a customer tips on every order.” 
After the uproar that July, people expected the policy to change. However, Vox reported in August 2019 — one month later — that no such change was made.
“They’re still stealing tips,” Dawnielle Turner, a DoorDash delivery driver in Cleveland. “Why would you send the email out and have everyone anticipate such a major change?”
Additionally, because DoorDash delivery drivers are considered contractors instead of employees, they don’t have protections like minimum wage or any other benefits for full-time employees. And because of how the payments can fluctuate, some drivers earn as little as $8 an hour. They rely on tips to make a livable wage.
One DoorDash employee began asking customers to pay him cash to ensure he gets the money in full. “The company really tries not to pay us as much as possible,” he said. 
The DoorDash Delivery Driver Strike
It’s no wonder that on July 31, 2021, DoorDash delivery workers went on strike. It all began in a viral Reddit post titled “DOORDASH BOYCOTT ON JULY 31ST ALL DAY !!” It urged workers to stop using the app that day and instead use UberEats. The list of demands to DoorDash included a minimum base pay of $4.50 — not including the tip.
“As if a $3 base pay from DoorDash was not insulting enough, they’ve lowered it to $2, $2.25, $2.50, $2.75,” one DoorDasher, Denise Small, said in a TikTok video with over 530,000 views. “I’ve declined so many orders because they’ve been $2.” She encouraged people to use other services because DoorDash “does not care about us.” “Do not give them your money!”
This is why DoorDash delivery drivers depend on tips to make ends meet. It got to the point that the DoorDash app doesn’t let them see how much a customer is tipping — only an estimated amount — because drivers would decline a job if it didn’t have a good tip.
The Future of DoorDash
It’s unclear how many DoorDash workers joined in the strike and if the strike could make a difference. In fact, DoorDash called those involved “a vocal minority” but still monitors the conditions of the boycott.
“DoorDash is proud to provide flexible, low-barrier earning opportunities for Dashers while helping restaurants grow their businesses. On average nationally, Dashers work fewer than 4 hours a week and earn over $25 an hour (while) they’re on delivery, including 100% of their tips,” DoorDash said in a statement.
One driver summed up the experience as “Dashers want fair compensation for our time and efforts. We are what makes the company run but we’re treated as disposable.” 
- “A delivery driver says he left a note for a customer who didn’t tip reminding them that he doesn’t work ‘for free’.” Insider. Monica Humphries. August 11, 2021
- “A delivery driver who went viral for saying he left a note for a customer who didn’t tip said it was a stunt in a new video.” Insider. Monica Humphries. August 16, 2021
- “DoorDash changes tipping model after angry customers complain.” CNET. Dara Kerr. July 24, 2019
- “DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop.” Vox. Shirin Ghaffary. August 20, 2019
- “Why DoorDash Drivers Are On Strike.” NPR. Josie Fischels. July 31, 2021