UPDATED NEWS: Courier Schedules Going Away, too!
Previously we introduced you to “Postmates: Remote Order Support – Behind The Scenes” and now it’s time for an update to the original article, a ‘2nd Edition’, or sorts. Since our original post we’ve received so many updates and additional information, we felt it was time to s hare it with you!
There are NO Schedules – Work When you want, how long you want, break when you want!
Let start with a notable decision that Postmates made recently – one that was a direct result of a lawsuit filed by it’s it’s ‘at-home’ remote workers, who are actually independent contractors, and not employees at all. As of last month, Postmates no longer schedules ANY at-home worker/independent contractor. Remember that these workers are paid per call, and the hope is that when call volume is high, that more will log on and assist with the queue. Of course, if the queue volume is very low, that means that each remote postmate worker logged on will be making less as they will not be making as many calls – making it a likely reality that many will log off, thereby increasing the number of calls for the few that decide to wait for the queue to fill back up with orders. Previously, a remote CS worker had to maintain 10 hours per week to stay active – there is no such inactivity timeout now.
We should note that they get ‘around’ this on the courier side of things, by offering ‘priority’ status to drivers who schedule themselves for the upcoming week and work that scheduled shift. If you’re on the schedule you would get the order before someone who was working but not scheduled (which you can still do anytime – also there are no real repercussions for missing a scheduled shift). But at least this somewhat assures there is almost always a driver on duty. There is nothing to ensure a remote working is always on duty, in theory they could have no one logged on at some odd hour. It would probably not last long as alerts would be sent asking folks to help clear the queue or order claims, but it’s at least possible. Of course this means as far as Postmates is concerned, it is in their favor to hire as many independent contractors as possible for the remote caller/CS queue – as there is no downside on the company’s side for having to many people. For the worker, it means the possibility of impacting their money if there are a lot of people waiting for orders to come in to be claimed, and only a few arrive. They could easily fall from 200 claims called per day, to under 100 until the system levels itself.
We had a couple of follow up questions from our last ‘behind the scenes post about postmates, it seems we forgot to fully explain what two commonly used terms meant – COT and EJ:
COT: “Courier Orders There” – when the remote support worker claims a job and is unable to process the order over the phone (fast food, grocery items, etc…) it is COT’d – the worker still gets paid for processing the claim/order, even though all they did was review the claim and text the courier to place the order upon arrival, or proceed to store, etc… The current goal is to COT less than 15% of jobs to maintain metrics (and possibly qualify for some incentives)
EJ: “Escalate Job” – when the remote support worker claims a job that requires online ordering, or prepayment via CC, etc… then they job must be ‘escalated’ to Job Support, who has the power to do handle these requests, change store hours, or handle reports of ‘no longer working with Postmates’ etc… The current goal is to EJ less than 4% of jobs to maintain metrics (and possibly qualify for some incentives)
There are no more ‘leads’ or ‘team managers’ or ‘team leads’ or any other type of real-time leadership for remote customer service/call support.
When Postmates first started it’s remote call support (aka Customer Service), there were multiple ‘team leads’ that managed and reviewed the stats of their teams of remote workers (stats such as EJ/COT stats, etc..) and they were also available real-time on the Slack Platform, in the CS-Remote channel for questions, comments, concerns, ‘how do i’ questions, etc… (For those not in the know, Slack is a web based platform that allows teams to communicate in chat rooms, host shared documents, FAQ’s, etc.. and basically communicate and manage teams in a single place. Postmates uses Slack (at a considerable expense to manage it’s remote teams)
However, over the past 2 months, the leads have went away. They are no more real-time support options where you can ask someone how to do something, or receive guidance, or anything similar. Unofficial options have popped up to replace this deficit (like independent Facebook groups, or unofficial slack channels, etc…) as the remote workers search to find a way to communicate with one another and get help when they need it. Officially, there are ‘Office Hours’ – which happen 3 times per week for 1-2 hours each session, when someone from the company (generally a manager/director/etc.. ) will log into the CS-Remote channel on Slack, and answer any questions or concerns that have been built up over the preceding few days. Except when they don’t show up at all for the scheduled office hours – which happens more often than not. Maybe they have better things to do, because answering questions from their remote workers isn’t something that actually happens a lot, in reality:
So – with no real-time support, no one to ask questions to, you’d imagine there is an amazing on boarding and training session, and then a nice job guidelines or manual on how to do the job, or something similar, right?…
There are no job guidelines. There is no manual. There are no job aides other than 3 three small info-graphics.
We honestly found this hard to believe.. after all, we had heard that Jasmine created a manual last year, and she did, indeed – however after a couple of months it was outdated, and she did not feel the need to ever update it, and it’s nearly a year old, so nothing it in was even close to being accurate. So they just stopped sending it out. So, what happens when a remote call worker takes a few weeks off, and then decides they need some more money so they log back on to take calls – is there any refreshers to help them out? This actually happened – let’s see the answer:
We were in total disbelief – after all, since there are no more schedules, or required minimum hours, this can happen with no repercussions. Of course, we should not have been surprised, as it was only days ago that they changed a policy on substitution, only to update it hours later after we spread the change on social media. So, just to be sure, we contacted the remote support corporate email address, posed as a remote CS worker, and asked for a refresher course, or a manual, or guidelines – so that we could be up to date. Here is the response we received:
So, the official response, there is no manual. no guidelines, only 3 small infographics in the CS-Remote channel in Slack. Here are those 3 infographics, as we previously published:
How do I…
And, finally, when to EJ/COT/Cancel:
Believe it or not, with those 3 items, you are turned loose as a CS-Remote worker. No insight or advice on setting up the autodialer, or using google voice, or anything other than what you see in those three graphics. There was, at one time, a manual – as we mentioned above. However even back in October when asked about it, Jasmine admitted that she had not updated it, and to this day, as you can see in our email above, it still hasn’t been:
We were able to track down the last official policy on COT’ing that existed – even though it’s 5 months old and no longer hosted on the Postmates Platform:
Due to the lack of job descriptions, and manuals, guidelines, etc… many remote workers have chosen to just create their own unofficial ones, which are frequently shared among other remote workers on facebook and other social media groups. To give you an idea of how these at home workers better understand their job/role, here is a description one of them wrote, while describing their jobs to others:
Due to the lack of manuals and consistent policy, etc.. they have even taken to screenshotting and copying and pasting things from Jerry (VP Customer Service) and Jasmine into documents and sharing them in an attempt to help their remote co workers, since there is no official single source of updated information. Here’s an example of the COT confusion, where updates were made in the chatroom of the CS-Remote Slack channel, but never made it to a manual, etc:
…and yet another example:
There is an exhaustive document made and (sometimes) maintained by some Postmates, that covers.. well, just about everything:
Incentives are often made up last minute, are poorly communicated
Not only are they poorly planned and executed, they are generally not paid out fairly, and extra qualifications are added during or after, or not fully disclosed up front. For instance, here is the most recent one, which mentions nothing of any CSAT or any other metric that must be reached/maintained in order to qualify for the incentive, or that any hours have to be scheduled in advance, etc… yet both of these qualifiers have been added or not disclosed to many incentives in the past, leading to miscommunications, workers believing they were underpaid, and an upset workforce that loves to talk among themselves, and on social media, where others can see:
There is a lot more that we didn’t publish – from emails to angry posts from management on facebook that they tried to delete but the remote workers caught them first – you know, your basic run of the mill startup company stuff – but we thought we’d better save something for a 3rd edition, right?
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