Godsend for Restaurateurs, Nightmare for Couriers


According to the Tribune in France, food delivery is a « God Send .»  In a season of lower tourism to France, I get it, it makes sense, after two horrible terrorist attacks, Paris and then Nice, people are afraid to visit France.  That loss of tourist traffic means that restaurants were bracing for huge losses since so much of their business was to tourists.  In a survey across France, 200 restaurateurs have applauded the positive impact delivery platforms like Deliveroo have had on their ability to maintain financial viability.

Apparently, according to FoodTech (a food management company) presented findings that since March 2015 a global increase in sales of 650%.  Amazing.  That number had increased by a factor of 7 by September 2016.  Sounds great, what a coup!

Not so fast.

I want the little guy, whether he’s a courier, a restaurateur, the lady ordering the food to be delivered to her by bicycle, I want all of them to prosper.  I’m a big fan of equity, fairness and fair play.  The reason these food delivery companies are able to undercut their competition, make the service viable to the average customer, this is possible thanks to ghost workers.  Because food delivery couriers are independent contractors, they may as well not exist.  Food delivery companies replace them or over-hire them with impunity, they are ghosts even to the people they work for.

Hey kid, you don’t deserve a living wage

If I order my meal to be delivered to my house, there is no way of knowing how poorly my courier is treated.  He comes, he delivers, we thank each other and then he is gone as quickly as he appeared.  Already forgotten.  Already a ghost.  If he comes, or 25 different couriers come, makes no difference.  They are all ghosts.  Legally speaking, they are also ghosts of the workforce because they are independent contractors

The companies insist that it is a net benefit to the worker, you could deliver five things in one hour.  The thing is you can’t.  The truth is, you are dependent on whether or not your dispatcher has five jobs for you to do.  If there are 30 jobs in one hour and there are 20 riders, there is no possible way you will get five jobs in an hour unless you are a favorite.  Also, those five jobs are harder to get when they occur in opposite ends of a city.  In theory, you could make an insane amount of money.  That is not reality and a company that is in stiff competition with other food delivery companies cannot admit that its workers don’t even make a national minimum wage.

Who would work for a company like that?

Students.  Why is it OK to pay students poorly?  The fact is that many food delivery people are not actually students.  From my experience with the media in the United States and with bike messengers, there is a bias to putting young people on camera.  If given the choice, the media will always select a young male, usually white.  This is 10 years of experience setting up media interviews for three messenger world championships in three major cities:  San Francisco, Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

This is only a win-win situation for the food delivery companies, the customers and the restaurateurs.  The couriers are not winning.  They are striking.  This week as a matter of fact.  They are striking against the very companies that claim to be so good to them.  Deliveroo, mentioned in this article is getting a lot of bad press in England, its home country.  Today the couriers of Brighton are striking.  Tomorrow the couriers of France are striking against all the food delivery platforms.

Some couriers are fine with making less than minimum wage and being treated like a ghost.  That doesn’t make it right.




De quoi réconcilier les acteurs traditionnels et les “disrupteurs”, alors que le phénomène dit d’ “uberisation de la société” évoque plutôt une opposition entre Anciens et Modernes. Et pour cause, Uber a bouleversé le marché du transport de personnes à la demande – au détriment des taxis, qui se dénoncent une perte de chiffre d’affaires – tandis que les VTC évoquent une croissance du marché. Et que les experts eux, se livrent une véritable guerre des chiffres.





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