Tampa has seen an influx of new delivery options recently. Uber Eats expanded this week to St. Pete and Amazon launched restaurant delivery last week. A third option just launched this week as well: Postmates.
I learned that Postmates was launching from an ad on Facebook. I had heard about the service on Youtube and figured it doesn't hurt to add a sharing economy option to my arsenal. The company approved me quickly - the background check went through within a couple of hours of my applying. This was by far the fastest approval I have received when signing up with a company in the sharing economy. A couple of days later, I received an email inviting me to an orientation meeting. I was given two options to attend the meeting and was promised "dinner and Postmates swag". I'm glad I decided to attend the meeting, because the swag included the required Postmates debit card.
One difference in how Postmates works is that I have to make purchases using the prepaid debit card. A customer can use the Postmates app or website to order food or general merchandise from places like Walgreens. Depending on the location, I might have to place the order when I arrive, or Postmates may place the order for me. When I arrive, I pay for the order using the debit card they provided me.
The soft launch was Tuesday, but the official launch was yesterday. On Tuesday I had a two hour break in my Amazon schedule, so I turned on a couple of other apps including Postmates. I received my first request to pick up a $5 box from KFC about two miles away. Before accepting a request, all I see is where I have to go to pick up the order. It doesn't say where my final destination will be. I had to go inside KFC and place the order and wait for it to be prepared. Once I confirmed the order, I was given the destination, which was a student housing building at Tampa College, less than 2 miles away. The entire process was straightforward, but in all this one order consumed about half an hour. For that, I was paid $4.
One benefit of using Postmates versus Uber Eats is that Postmates has a tipping option on the app. I was pleasantly surprised a day later when a $3 tip was posted to the KFC order. Still, $7 is a meager amount to cover both my vehicle expenses and my time.
First Lesson Learned: Only Accept Nearby Orders
Last night after my Amazon shift, I logged onto Postmates. It was launch day, and the company was giving away pints of ice cream and empanadas. As soon as I logged on a request came through to pick up some empanadas. The pick up location was nearly 20 minutes away. At the time I didn't realize Postmates doesn't compensate you for your time traveling to pick up an order. Later in the night I drove 15 miles, 26 minutes, to pick up California Pizza Kitchen. For the CPK order, which required me to park and go inside the mall, wait in line to pick up the order (this time Postmates placed the order for me), and drive a couple miles to the customer, I was only paid $4. Totally not worth it, even with the $2.51 tip the customer included. I spent nearly an hour on this order, and put almost 20 miles on my car, for a grand total of $6.51.
Second Lesson Learned: Postmates Pays VERY Little
Last night I worked exclusively for Postmates from 6:30 PM until almost 10 PM. I was always making deliveries (one feature I like is how Postmates will "stack" a second order while you are completing the first, so that you already know where you are headed next). While I wasn't as efficient as I will be now that I know my travel time to pick up an order isn't compensated, I did feel like I was working pretty hard. I drove aggressively, hustled at each pickup location, and was extra nice in the hopes of getting tipped. In all, I made 7 deliveries. Postmates paid me $33.82. I received a $2 cash tip and so far have received $10.51 in tips through the app. Of the 7 orders, 4 tipped, 2 did not tip (how cheap: their order was FREE and they still didn't throw me a couple dollars!), and one order hasn't been closed out yet. I made just over $14/hour on what is likely one of the busiest days there will be. This, of course, is my gross income before accounting for my vehicle expenses.