Every DoorDash Controversy Explained

DoorDash is one of America's most popular food delivery services, claiming around 57% of the market share in the U.S. in 2022, according to Backlinko. This means that if you've ever ordered food online, it's highly likely that it was delivered by a DoorDash driver, lovingly known as Dashers.

There are over a million Dashers darting around across 7,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada, according to Go Banking Rate, all aiming to get your meals to you as quickly as possible. It's no surprise that there are so many drivers compared to other companies, as being able to choose your hours is an attractive perk. Not to mention, the application and approval process to become a DoorDash driver is apparently much more straightforward than similar alternatives, as past drivers comment on Indeed.

Despite being a well-loved and relied-upon brand, an organization of this size is bound to have a few controversies surrounding it. When you dig into DoorDash's story, you'll find your fair share of scandals, debacles, and blunders. Read on to uncover the darker controversies that the company would prefer you forget.

It gave away hundreds of free meals because of a glitch

During the summer of 2022, DoorDash experienced a technical glitch attributed to an issue with payment processing. Typically, this might lead to users being unable to order food for a while, but in this case, the glitch allowed them to check out and order food without an authorized form of payment.

When the glitch was discovered it blew up on Twitter. Allured by the prospect of free food, users made massive orders that overwhelmed restaurants and drivers alike, causing chaos and shortages. Although this sounds like a win for customers, this malfunction hit partner restaurants hard.

Furthermore, many users who attempted to cash in on the glitch found that they were eventually charged in the following days, adding to the confusion and delirium of the situation. DoorDash has since rectified the issue, telling Mashable, "We're actively canceling fraudulent orders, [...] and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this."

Since this episode, many people have tried to capitalize on the public's appetite for free food by starting scams, claiming that customers can get cheaper or free meals via different means. Be mindful so that you don't fall for these DoorDash scams.

At one point, tips were going directly to DoorDash, not the drivers

Despite Dashers heavily relying on tips in recent years, with 85% of workers' earnings made up of both tips and company payment, according to Fast Company, it may be surprising to learn that in early 2019, drivers didn't get a nickel of their tips.

Instead, all the tips went directly to DoorDash, who used the money to pay their workers' base rates, helping them improve their profit margins early on. This policy was heavily criticized in February 2019. Yet, Doordash higher-ups stayed firm, only altering the policy after they came under fire again, following an exposing article about what it's like to be a Dasher, which first appeared in The New York Times.

Now amended, Dashers are said to get all of their tips, as Chief Executive Tony Xu stated on the DoorDash Blog: "Every dollar customers tip will be an extra dollar in their Dasher's pocket." This is a massive U-turn and shift in policy that now benefits the multiple drivers who operate on behalf of DoorDash.

Drivers are harshly punished for declining orders

A widely used selling point for Dashers is that you have ultimate freedom about your working conditions and can decline orders whenever you want. The ability to do this makes sense, as some orders may be too large or too far away. However, a peculiar percentage quota means that many drivers are punished if they decline too many orders.

Based on information from Ducktrap Motel, DoorDash drivers have an acceptance rate based on their last 100 orders. If they decline 10 of them, they fall below 90% and get a "practice warning." If they refuse more, they get a "serious warning" and risk an investigation against them and could even be fired. In addition, Entre Courier details that if drivers are deemed to be declining too many orders, their Dash will be paused for 10 minutes. This means they won't be able to accept any orders during this time, potentially affecting their income.

Plus, DoorDash's Top Dasher program, which rewards drivers with a high acceptance rate, causes drivers with a rate under 70% to potentially lose out on company benefits. According to Ridester, Top Dashers get priority if two drivers can accept the same order. They also have the ability to Dash at any time, meaning that those who have declined orders may lose out on the opportunity to earn more. This is just one of the realities of what it's like to work for DoorDash.

There are very few background checks to become a Dasher

To become a DoorDash driver, you don't have to provide many details or be experienced in this kind of role. Per DoorDash, you only need to be 18, have your own insurance policy, a valid license and vehicle, and a social security number. Aside from that, you're good to go, and if you're lucky enough to apply in an area in need of drivers, you could start working the day after your application.

DoorDash doesn't even conduct its own background checks, instead using a third party called Checkr to do it on its behalf. This means that some unsavory characters might slip through the lenient screening process. There have been countless reports of "terrible" DoorDash drivers across the U.S., including instances when food wasn't even delivered despite customers being charged (via Yahoo). 

Of course, there are plenty of fantastic drivers for DoorDash too. The company teamed up with Marvel to create a comic to celebrate its drivers as the fast food heroes they are. Due to the massive quota the company has to fill, its onboarding process may not be as thorough as some of its competitors.

DoorDash drivers are misclassified as independent contractors

The U.S. is taking a deep look into its gig economy, as Deutsche Welle reported in 2022. New rules are set to be put into fruition after many companies came under fire for misclassifying their independent contractors. Many lawmakers now believe they should have been considered business employees from the start.

DoorDash is one such company that encountered this criticism. In the past, it faced lawsuits from places such as San Francisco, which alleged that the company was violating the city's health care and paid sick leave laws (via Reuters). Eventually, DoorDash paid $5.3 million to settle the lawsuit two years after first being criticized.

It was alleged that the control DoorDash had over its drivers' work was characteristic of an employer-employee relationship, as the latter had to hit specific metrics to avoid termination. While the company paid the settlement, it didn't admit to any offense. DoorDash spokesperson Briana Megid stated to The Verge: "While we deny any wrongdoing, we feel that this settlement represents a fair compromise."

Increased commission for longer wait times

One of the ways that DoorDash makes its money is by charging restaurants that partner with them a commission. Typically it is around 15% of the cost of the item, but it can also be 25% or 30% based on the plan restaurants choose (via DoorDash). However, this percentage isn't set in stone and can actually increase depending on the wait times. The result is that busy and popular restaurants that may need drivers to wait longer before being able to deliver their orders are punished and have to pay more.

Currently, this is only applicable to larger restaurants, such as McDonald's, as they usually seem to slow down drivers. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, if a driver has to wait more than four minutes, commission costs spike from 11.6% to 17.6%. This further increases if the driver has to wait more than seven minutes. This policy will come into effect in early 2023. Although annoying, McDonald's can't complain too much, as its restaurant commission fees are already drastically reduced compared to other establishments, and only 11.6% for DashPass subscribers.

Easy to misuse the refund policy

It's widely believed that DoorDash is one of the easiest delivery services when it comes to getting free refunds. Multiple people reveal secrets and tips to score free refunds on social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter. We haven't investigated any deeper but it has been said people can get refunds after complaining, no questions asked.

This lenient refund policy has resulted in many people exploiting the service. Although it lets buyers obtain free food, these scams harm the Dashers delivering it. Any complaints of missing food or botched deliveries can affect a driver's performance score, which hampers their eligibility for future deliveries and makes it harder to become a Top Dasher. In fact, a driver's Dasher Rating is one of their most important metrics, as detailed by DoorDash.

In addition, if a false complaint is issued for missing or incorrect items, the restaurant is punished and has to pay for the "missing" items. This can range between 50% to 100% of the cost of the item, resulting in many restaurants suffering financially due to false refunds, according to FOX 5.

DoorDash drivers went on strike

On July 31, 2021, multiple DoorDash drivers went on strike nationwide, choosing not to take any orders for the day (via NPR). This resulted in many unfulfilled orders, putting a massive strain on restaurants and the other Dashers who chose not to join the protest. The strike occurred because drivers demanded higher pay and tip transparency, asking for a minimum of $4.50 for each delivery before tips were added on. At the time, the minimum was $2, which wasn't worth the hassle for many drivers. This was all detailed in a Reddit post where the protest was originally organized.

To add insult to injury, many of the protesting Dashers decided to deliver for Uber Eats instead, giving the rival company a boost in performance and revenue as they continue to battle head to head. It's unclear exactly how wide the scope of the protest was, and since it's been and gone, no changes to pay or tip transparency have come about, suggesting that all the efforts were futile.

DoorDash has listed restaurants without permission

There have been countless instances where restaurants appeared on DoorDash without applying or even wanting to be on the platform. Although a free listing on DoorDash may sound like a good thing as it can potentially attract more orders, these ghost listings usually use outdated menus and information.

The result is that these restaurants can suffer from an influx of poor reviews and ratings because diners have rightly had delivery issues. These reviews can inadvertently harm a restaurant's reputation, and some can even lose business because of the low overall rating they receive due to these reviews. This exact scenario happened to pizza parlor owner Kevin Leidecker, who detailed his experience to WXYZ Detroit.

San Francisco Michelin-starred Thai restaurant Kin Khao dealt with this issue too, as reported by Eater. The establishment found itself on DoorDash, among other platforms, despite the crucial detail that it didn't offer any takeaway food service.

All DoorDash employees have to deliver, even office workers

In an attempt to build camaraderie and connection between office staff and Dashers, a compulsory regulation requires all workers to make a DoorDash delivery once a month regardless of their role. The WeDash program's original aim was to allow the company's programmers and engineers to experience how the platform works. However, it's now evolved to become a program to connect all types of workers into a more united collective.

When discussing the program with Financial Times, DoorDash cofounder Andy Fang justified the scheme: "It ties to one of our values of being customer-obsessed." Allowing employees in all domains to experience their service first-hand enables them to make changes and improve it. However, not all staff are happy with the move, with one lamenting on a Blind post that they "didn't sign up for this," and were equally bothered that it was tracked in their performance reviews.

DoorDash forces restaurants to charge the same for dining in as for delivery

For restaurants to partner with DoorDash, The Mercury News reports that they must keep their dine-in prices the same as fees for food ordered via delivery. This ensures customers don't choose to eat in over using their delivery service just because it's cheaper. Since DoorDash charges a commission for each order, restaurants have been forced to increase the prices of dining in to match the more costly meals bought through the app. The result is a drop in revenue from customers who dine in, impacting restaurants' profit and earnings.

The situation surrounding these demands has gotten fairly serious, too. According to Law & Crime, a group of consumers in New York have filed a lawsuit against DoorDash and similar businesses, stating that they use monopoly power to limit customer choice and force restaurants to fix prices. It's deemed unfair and can seriously impact and affect what these restaurants can earn, while also impacting customers' buying options and decisions.