Uber Eats drivers say they earn R150 less per 20 orders than this time last year

Customers drove decision to reduce fees, says company

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
More affordable fees are designed to help delivery drivers by boosting user demand so more people are ordering more often through the Uber Eats app, says the company.
More affordable fees are designed to help delivery drivers by boosting user demand so more people are ordering more often through the Uber Eats app, says the company.
Image: Reuters

Uber Eats has downplayed a threat by drivers, who are “fed up” with reduced fees, to stage a nationwide strike on Friday, saying many drivers don’t support it and will “continue operating as normal”.

Duane Bernard, speaking on behalf Uber Driver Partners SA, told TimesLIVE that due to a decision by Uber Eats to bow to pressure from restaurants and reduce delivery fees from 30% - plus 5% to the driver - to a capped fee of about R9 a meal, as well as “activating” too many drivers on the platform, drivers were now earning about R150 less per 20 orders than they were at this time last year.

Himself an Uber Eats driver in Port Elizabeth, Bernard said drivers were currently being paid a pick-up fee of R10 per delivery plus R4 per 1.6km. They are demanding a fee of R20 for the first 2km plus R6/km after that.

Some Uber Eats drivers withheld their services on December 18, shortly after their fees were reduced.

The drivers also want to be paid more for Uber Connect trips, which is Uber’s courier service, Bernard said.

Drivers receive a pick-up fee of R10 per delivery plus R4 per 1.6km

Uber Eats told TimesLIVE it “struggled” to see how Bernard represents “so many different driver partners” using the app.

“We are aware a small group of couriers have expressed concern over the reduced delivery charges for users,” the company said.

“We respect drivers who deliver on the app as valuable partners with a voice and a choice, and we want them to feel they can talk to us at any time.

“However, based on multiple roundtable discussions we recently hosted, we are aware not all partners are in support of this and will continue operating as normal.”

Defending its decision to lower driver fees, Uber Eats said consumers were more price sensitive than ever and for the business to remain sustainable for customers, restaurants and drivers, it had to “implement sustainable changes” to its fee structure.

“Fewer orders from customers means less earning opportunities for all,” the company said.

“Therefore we recently introduced a more affordable delivery charge structure across SA, meaning all customers, no matter the city, have access to affordable options nearby while maintaining access to restaurants further away at a slightly higher price.

“More affordable fees are designed to help delivery drivers by boosting user demand so more people are ordering more often through the Uber Eats app.

“As a result, delivery partners will spend more time making deliveries and less time sitting idly waiting for orders.”

The company said it would continue monitoring driver economics and marketplace dynamics “to ensure partners continue to thrive when using the Uber Eats app”.

Asked to reveal how current demand for the service compared to demand this time last year, Uber Eats declined to respond.

Ciro De Siena, who owns Italian restaurant Posticino City in Cape Town’s city bowl and does mostly takeaway trade by using Uber Eats for deliveries, said business was great in December but about 20% down so far this month.

  • Earlier this month, Toronto web developer Randy Singh created Not-Ubereats.com to help people identify nearby restaurants that offer their own delivery service rather than using Uber Eats, to avoid paying steep commission. One of the 6,000 restaurants listed on the site told CBS News she’d noticed a major change during the Covid-19 pandemic as more people made an effort to support local businesses.

TimesLIVE


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