What It's Really Like To Work For Grubhub?

As the pandemic raged around the world, food delivery grew into a $150 billion industry (per McKinsey & Company). It wouldn't be wrong to say that most of our dinner plans are made with a few swipes of a thumb today. As per a 2021 Deloitte report, over 60% of Americans ordered food online at least once per week (the percentage was 18% before the pandemic). Given Grubhub is among the top four food delivery apps in the US — along with DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates — there is a good chance you have satisfied your mid-week pizza cravings with a quick Grubhub order. The food delivery service connects over 300,000 restaurants with 33 million diners across 4,000 cities in the US (via Grubhub).

Every day, 745,000 orders are delivered by 65,000 odd drivers, for Grubhub. That's a lot of numbers, but what we are trying to say is, there are a lot of people who depend on the app when they have a hankering for their favorite restaurant food. While we all know the familiar satisfaction of getting our Grubhub orders delivered on time, the question remains: what a Grubhub driver's experience is like delivering meals for others? 

Drivers need more than just an auto insurance

When Grubhub drivers use their personal vehicles to deliver food, their cars — yes, the same that they use to drop their kids off at school — are no longer considered personal, but commercial vehicles by insurance companies. As per Forbes, when a car is meant for business use, car insurance companies foresee higher risk, and thereby charge higher rates. This is simply because insurers believe drivers are at an increased risk of getting into accidents and filing claims. This means that food delivery drivers need to get a "commercial" auto insurance policy, in addition to their personal auto insurance policy, to make sure their bills are covered in case of a mishap during delivery.

Unlike Amazon Flex, DoorDash, and Uber Eats, which offer a commercial auto insurance policy for their employees (though with different coverages), Grubhub doesn't. While the company's requirement is just that you have auto insurance, per The Detroit Bureau, what you need is rideshare insurance, which provides coverage when your car is in "rideshare" mode — be it when you are delivering food, or giving someone a Lyft.

Sometimes, kids tag along on delivery routes

While Grubhub makes no mention of whether it's okay or not to take kids along on food deliveries, some drivers do so anyway. As per a driver on Reddit's Grubhub Drivers' page, "I'm a father and I bring my daughter with [me] sometimes. It defeats the purpose of trying to earn extra if you use it on a sitter. We get to talk a lot. I like it." Another driver added that she took her two toddlers along for deliveries. Based out of Alaska, the driver said that it was impossible for her and her husband, who had to be sometimes away for work, to hire babysitters and also save money to buy a new home. 

"It's not ideal by any means. But lots of snacks, potty breaks, park stops, tablets, books, and toys and you're fine for a few hours. No means should be taking them out for 8-10 hour shifts but it's not hurting anyone," she told Reddit. It probably doesn't hurt anyone as long as the kids don't handle the food — which hasn't always been the case. One Grubhub customer told Reddit that they filed a complaint against a Grubhub driver who had their child hand out the takeout box. The customer wrote, "Maybe I am overreacting with this post, but I don't want some random child touching my food even if it's in a closed container ... Completely made me lose my appetite."

There is little information on how far the next drop off is

When Grubhub drivers receive offers, all they see is the restaurant name and the drop-off address. Some key details, like the total miles to the destination, traffic information, route options, etc., are hidden. "Just doesn't make any sense and very unprofessional," a Grubhub driver wrote on Reddit, adding that it is both a waste of time and a risk to be figuring out the mileage while driving. As mentioned on the YouTube channel Your Driver Mike, all the driver sees are two dots, which are the starting point and the destination. While other apps such as Postmates, Uber Eats, and DoorDash provide predictive routes, Grubhub doesn't.

As a Grubhub driver, if you have a good knowledge of the city routes, peak hours, and road conditions, you would be in a better position to decide if a certain drop-off is worth your while or not. As one Grubhub writer wrote on Reddit, "I know my city like the back of my hand. Grew up here all my life and [have] been doing gigs for two years. I can eyeball the map and know if it's worth it or not." But just an "A" in street trivia isn't enough — as per Your Driver Mike, you are on your own when it comes to navigating their app. "I looked all over the website, they literally don't tell you how to use the app," he explains.

Drivers get 90 seconds to accept an order

A minute and a half — that's enough time to convey a business pitch, and it's also apparently enough for Grubhub workers to decide whether to accept a food delivery offer or not. As said in a YouTube video by Your Driver Mike, drivers get a maximum of 90 seconds to accept an offer on Grubhub. This is a lot of time, when compared to DoorDash's 45 seconds Uber Eats' 15-30 seconds. However, the 90-second limit, if the posts on Reddit are to be believed, has gotten shorter.

As mentioned in another episode of Your Driver Mike, unlike DoorDash and Uber Eats, which have their own versions of a countdown timer on the app screens, Grubhub shows nothing. Unless you are counting down under your breath, you never know how much time you have left before the app assumes you aren't interested in taking up the offer. In turn, it takes it as a "reject" by default.

As per the forum Grubhub for Drivers, the more rejections you pile up — whether by voluntarily rejecting or ignoring an offer — the lower your acceptance rate goes. The acceptance rate is key to climbing from Partner to Pro, and the ultimate level, Premier, on the app. Once you are Premier, you are prioritized over Partner and Pro-level drivers to accept offers and block the schedules that you prefer to work.

Some customers leave heavy tips

Reddit is filled with happy anecdotes of drivers getting hefty tips from customers. Wrote one driver in 2021, "The biggest I got was in cash for $100 during my second month last year. I initially thought he gave me a 10. When I realized what it was I went back and told my customer thank you over and over again." There are stories of how a Grubhub driver was paid $100 for a small Buffalo Wild Wings order, or how another driver was surprised with a $40 tip for just driving a block away to deliver, or how another driver was tipped $95 on Father's Day.

As per the Grubhub blog, the ideal tip is 20% of the meal price. If that's below $5, then hand out a $5, the blog says. However, in December 2020, as per special employment rules for app-based drivers in California, the customer fee was raised by a small amount of $1.50 per order to cover the drivers' new and increased benefits (like minimum earnings and healthcare guarantee), according to the Los Angeles Times). Though it seems like it should have benefited the drivers, it only turned their situation dire. A Grubhub driver told the Times that before the new policy, she had earned close to $80 in tips for 13 orders; afterward, it was just $29 for 15 orders.

Some customers can be inconsiderate

When Hurricane Ida raged through New York in 2021, some Grubhub employees who couldn't afford to miss out on a day's pay continued delivering food. As per The City, the bad weather conditions had forced more people to stay at home and order food. Lázaro Morales, a Grubhub worker, had slogged for nearly 14 hours delivering food in Astoria — although, making an unsatisfactory amount for all that work. "This was the most horrible day ever on the job ... The clients are very inconsiderate: As long as they get their meal, they don't care about us," he told The City.

Grubhub drivers can see on the app if they have been tipped or not, even before accepting an offer. Some of them outright reject the no-tippers, though it might affect their acceptance rate. "No tip. No trip," one driver told Reddit. Another driver confessed to purposely delaying a no-tip delivery: "One time I was doing a triple order and even though they [no-tipper] were closest to me I delivered the other two first. They got their order 1.5 hours after they ordered." The drivers can also be tipped in person with cash — though some drivers said they were lied to about cash tips, and also, were embarrassed to knock and wait for tips (via Reddit).

The pay is better compared to other delivery apps

In a video documenting his experience working for Grubhub, a driver for the delivery app said that he had earned an average of $24 per hour. According to a 2021 article published in US News and World Report, Grubhub drivers get a base rate for every delivery and also get to keep 100% of the tips they earn. Comparing the average amount per hour earned by Grubhub drivers with other food delivery apps, it seems like Grubhub might be a top payer. DoorDash drivers earned $16 per hour on average, Uber Eats workers earn $14.50, and GoPuff and Instacart workers earn $15 per hour, compared to $26 per hour made by Grubhub drivers. Even the online finance platform Giggle lists Grubhub as the food delivery service that pays the most.

But how do the drivers really feel about the compensation? As mentioned in The City, the base rate is $2 per hour and can increase based on demand. For instance, when parts of New York were flooded by Hurricane Ida, the drivers were paid $7 per hour as the base rate to deliver food. According to a Grubhub worker, Saúl Bazán, the pay isn't enough. "We deserve to be paid hourly wages, and then tips," he told The City. In 2022, a number of Grubhub drivers joined other gig workers in a protest to demand "a minimum wage and basic worker protections" in Seattle (via GeekWire).

There is a fear of getting attacked by pet dogs

Some Grubhub workers have had to deal with ferocious pets while delivering food. As per one Grubhub worker, a customer's dog bit them when they tried to stop the dog from running away from the house (via Reddit). The driver confirms they had only approached the dog because the customer had ensured the pooch was friendly. "The next thing I know I'm bitten in three places, the worst one being on my abdomen. Now if she knew this dog would bite, which she clearly did, why didn't she just put the dog in another room?" the Grubhub driver asked. This is just one of the handful of stories where pet dogs have proved a menace for Grubhub workers.

Another Grubhub driver had ended up face-to-face with two large dogs during a delivery. "The second I knocked on the door they just started barking and running at me," said the driver, recalling how the incident had shaken him up. The fear of getting bitten by dogs sometimes has the drivers simply leaving the food bag on the fence surrounding the house, sitting inside their vehicle waiting for the owner to leash the dogs, or reporting the sight of free-roaming dogs as an offense (via Reddit). As it turns out, there are state-specific dog bite laws and dog-bite attorneys who work to cover the victim's damages due to a dog bite.

Sometimes the job can put you at risk

Food delivery workers don't have it easy. Some Grubhub drivers had to work through the worst bad weather conditions — such as during Hurricane Ida of September 2021, which, as per The City, had food delivery workers wading through knee-deep water. While harsh weather sometimes makes their lives difficult, other times, it is the restaurant staff. A Grubhub driver was attacked by a bunch of angry restaurant staff, who, as reported by NBC Philadelphia, yelled slurs at him and attacked him and his car. As per the report, the incident had gotten out of hand when the driver and the restaurant staff had started an argument over the long waiting time for the food order.

What's worse, as many as 65,000 food delivery workers in New York City — which also include Grubhub drivers — fear getting mobbed, ambushed, and hit by vehicles while on the job, per CBS News. A survey by Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Workers Justice Project indicated that over 50% of delivery workers in New York were robbed at some point during work. Shockingly, the CBS News report also mentioned at least 10 fatalities among delivery workers in New York in 2021. One of them was a Grubhub driver who was stabbed to death in Manhattan's Lower East Side in October 2021. As per New York Daily News, the perpetrator had attacked the driver while trying to rob his e-bike.

There is no way of knowing if you did a good job

Even if you are the best — or worst — Grubhub driver out there, you get no performance feedback directly from your customer. As mentioned on the YouTube channel Your Driver Mike, there is no way to know if your speed and customer service are on point. This is unlike in apps, such as DoorDash, which deactivates drivers with a customer rating below 4.2 out of 5 (customer rating is different from food rating, and is based on the most recent 100 ratings that the driver received), or Uber Eats, which can kick drivers off of the app if they get a consistently poor rating from restaurants and customers.

With Grubhub, there is no need to bother about what customers think, and some drivers like this system. "Just focus [on] the delivery you're doing now. No need to stress about ups and downs in ratings or other statistics," a Grubhub driver wrote on Reddit. Pointing at the positives, another driver added, "Order accuracy or restaurant delays or orders being assigned late won't be held against you." If the customers have any complaints about the Grubhub driver, as per a Grubhub worker on Reddit, it goes straight to the company's support team.

Sometimes, there are a lot of waiting at restaurants

When food is not delivered on time, most (over 60%, per Zion & Zion Market Research) consumers hold both the restaurant and the delivery app responsible. There is a tendency to co-blame, even if the Grubhub driver is an extremely punctual person. To make sure it is not the driver's mistake, the Grubhub app gives the driver the option to keep the customer posted about their order — this includes notifying them the time they arrived at the restaurant, and when they picked up the order. If the order isn't ready or if there is a problem with it, they have the option to convey that as well. Having said that, the longer a driver waits for an order, the more time they lose out on accepting other offers and making money.

Some Grubhub drivers have complained about the long wait time from restaurants creating their orders. Said one driver on Reddit, "Everywhere I go, the food is almost never ready when I arrive. Some won't even start the order until after I arrive. I've waited over 20 mins to be handed the order on a few occasions." Another Grubhub driver noted, "About 15-30 minute wait 90% of the time in Vegas market. They don't start the orders till we arrive. And they don't appear very happy to see us either." Some sit-down restaurants can take even as long as 40 minutes, said another Grubhub worker.