Declines Orders, Waits in Wealthy Areas



  • Jack delivers food 10 hours a week for DoorDash and Uber Eats.
  • The 22-year-old said he didn’t accept orders with low tips and wealthy neighborhoods tipped better.
  • He said customers should tip for the “premium service they’re being provided.”

If you don’t tip — and tip well — don’t expect Jack to pick up your food-delivery order

The Philadelphia 22-year-old works roughly 10 hours a week on his “weekend side hustle,” he told Insider, delivering food on his bike for primarily DoorDash and Uber Eats. Jack, whose last name is known to Insider but has been excluded for privacy reasons, shares his delivery experiences with his 148,000 TikTok followers — though he never shows his face on camera.

When Jack logs on to his delivery apps, he said, he chooses whether to accept or pass on a variety of orders that come in. He said his decision was based on how much each delivery would pay and how long it’d take. DoorDash and Uber Eats offers include a base payment — which depends partly on the distance of the delivery, occasional incentive fees to entice drivers, and any up-front tip the customer includes.

Jack’s average base payment is between $2 and $2.50, according to delivery records provided to Insider, though some base payments were as high as $4.50. When a delivery offer comes in as low as $2 or $2.50, he said that meant the customer did not offer a tip up front.

While DoorDash and Uber Eats customers can also tip after the order is delivered, Jack said he’s not interested in waiting to see whether he’d wasted his time. For this reason, he generally accepts only orders with the highest payments — which often mean the highest up-front tips — and declines roughly 75% of the orders he receives.

“I’m not doing this to gamble. I’m doing this to make money,” he said. “So I’m not really interested in playing the game of, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do this person’s delivery for a guaranteed $2.50. Maybe it might be more.’ I don’t play that game. And most people don’t like to play that game. That’s what results and their order’s not getting picked up, or it takes awhile for them to get their food.”

The majority of orders he sees do include a tip, Jack said. According to documents Insider saw, they generally range from $3 to $7. Both DoorDash and Uber Eats drivers keep 100% of their tips.

“I think people should be tipping for the premium service that they’re being provided,” he said. 

Jack isn’t the only gig worker looking for higher tips. While many delivery drivers said they benefited from larger tips during the beginning of the pandemic, some customers have since cut back, The New York Times reported last week.

Of over 3,800 comments in the first 48 hours after the story’s publication, the most popular ones pushed back on the idea that drivers should get the same tips as the waitstaff at restaurants, while others said they shouldn’t be responsible for paying these workers a living wage.

As inflation continues to weigh on Americans’ pocketbooks, even more customers may decide to cut back on delivery tips to save a buck or two.

Alix Anfang, an Uber spokesperson, told Insider that tipping had increased since 2020.

“On the rides side, tipping frequency and the average tip on a trip roughly doubled over the last two years,” Anfang said. “Food delivery has always had a high tipping rate, but the average tip on a delivery increased even further by about 20%.”

A DoorDash spokesperson told Insider that the vast majority of DoorDash customers left a tip and that, on average, drivers earned $25 an hour while delivering. While drivers are allowed to pass on orders, the spokesperson said, the company’s data shows that drivers who accept more orders — rather than wait for the ones with the biggest tips — tended to earn more. 

Jack DoorDash

Jack rides his bike during delivery shifts.

Jack DoorDash

Looking for big tips is like a ‘treasure hunt’

Jack doesn’t just cross his fingers and hope for orders with big tips. He deliberately hangs around more affluent neighborhoods, like Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, because customers there tend to tip better, he said. 

“I’ll sit in Rittenhouse Square in the park, and I’ll get an order that’s from a fancy Italian restaurant,” he said. “It’s a two-block delivery, and it ends up paying me $20 because this person doesn’t want to walk two blocks in the winter cold.”

He added: “I know what parts of the city have the better tips and which ones don’t. That typically does have to do with the income of the area.”

Jack began delivering food for DoorDash in January 2019 to earn extra income and said he worked roughly 40 hours a week that summer when he was off school. When the pandemic forced Jack to move home to a Philadelphia suburb, he began doing grocery and food delivery from his car. He noticed a significant boost in tips, he said, and for the first few months, it was a “gravy train.”  

“On $250 to $300 grocery orders, people were tipping $100,” he said, “because they were just so petrified to step foot in the grocery store and they were so thankful that someone else was willing to do it.”

Today, Jack said his DoorDash and Uber Eats tips were roughly at a pre-pandemic level, if not slightly higher. But while $100 grocery tips might be a thing of the past, Jack said he’d been able to count on one time of year for higher pay: winter. 

During the summer, when there are more drivers on the road, he said he typically earned between $20 to $25 an hour delivering food. 

But during the winter, when there are fewer drivers to compete with — and some customers tip more generously in appreciation for their drivers navigating adverse weather conditions — Jack earns as much as $45 an hour riding his bike around the city, according to documents viewed by Insider. 

Snatching up an order with a high tip isn’t always what it seems, though. Some drivers have complained of “tip baiting,” when customers offer high tips to attract drivers and then revoke them — something Jack said had happened to him two to three times.

Jack said he planned to continue doing gig work on the weekends — and search for the highest tips.

“Doing this food delivery thing, I just kind of think of it as a game,” he said. “It’s like a treasure hunt, if you would, and I get joy out of it.”

Are you a gig worker willing to share your story about pay, schedule, and tipping? If so, reach out to this reporter at .


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