Postmates: Courier Schedules Going Away

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Previously we told you about some of the shakeups and controversy happening over at deliver-anything-to-your-doorstep ‘Postmates’, and their couriers, which many of us here in East Nashville have learned to rely on religiously, to snag anything from groceries, to dinner, to some emergency Plan B for the morning after, or even a bong delivered to East Nashville. After publishing some of their ‘behind the scenes’ tips we had from local couriers and remote customer service reps that work here in Nashville, we recently received a new tip – Couriers will soon be working without schedules!

pickup order

As a bit of history, the remote customer service callers (that attempt to call in your food orders to the merchant) had their schedules removed back in November – now those employees contractors may log on/off as they please for 1 minute or 10 hours, it doesn’t matter – they are paid per call they claim/complete, so the hope by Postmates was that the employees 1099-Inddependant Contractors would log themselves off if the calls were slow, and jump on to make more money if the system was busier than usual. Of course, this all stemmed from a lawsuit, which is still pending, that is creating havoc on the employee vs. 1099 relationship that everyone outside of the corporate office has with Postmates (and similarly, Uber & Lyft). The removal of the schedule as well as some strongly worded footer text on all communications reminds workers that they are not employees, do not have schedules, and can work anytime they want. So it was only to be a matter of time before this no-schedule culture spread to the couriers, as well.

Our tipster explains that over the remainder of this quarter, some markets will begin to test no schedules for couriers, and hopes to have it spread nationwide shortly thereafter. Currently there is a ‘schedule’ that you are to adhere to – and Postmates Job Support crew will call you if you are not logged on and waiting during the hours you picked for your ‘schedule’. On the flip-side, however, you can still work if you are not scheduled, however you are give a non-priority status currently, which means someone working their schedule shit will get a job offer for a pickup/delivery before the non-scheduled worker.¬† This practice, especially the calling and threatening to be ‘written up’ if you are not logged on during a scheduled shift certainly calls into question the employee-employer relationship that it seems to create.

On the new non-schedule system, which is still in the beta stages, and as it was explained to us, Couriers will be able to see the ‘business’ of the market they are in and decide if they want to logon to be in the queue for a job. Obviously the idea is that during peak/busy times that more drivers would log on to work (possibly receiving PUSH/TEXT alerts during peak times to inform them), and that during non-busy times couriers would log off to help them better have a work/life balance, and also increase their jobs/hour percentage, as well as greatly inflate the $/per/hour figure that Postmates likes to spout to new couriers.

Speaking of new couriers – Postmates is hiring – and over hiring like crazy, is almost all cities to prepare for this new no schedule model. While it is creating great upset among many Postmates during this transition time, of which couriers have yet to be let in on what’s about to happen, as it’s creating more couriers working, but not as many jobs during this time of the year – leaving some couriers with 1-2 hours between jobs, decreasing their hourly wage and jobs per hour numbers.

From the information we have, it appears that under the ‘no schedule’ system, jobs will still be offered to online couriers in a stack ranked system – depending of course on courier’s proximity to the merchant/customer, but if there are multiple couriers to choose from, it would be a ranking based on the couriers Customer Satisfaction Rating, among other things. Interestingly, under the current plan (still in beta, and could change) a schedule would still ‘exist’ but only for incentive purposes – much like the Uber system. For instance a weekend incentive might be promoted that offered an extra dollar amount as an incentive/prize, but only if the courier signed up and worked a certain block of hours (for instance to cover a 10PM-2AM slot so there was guaranteed coverage for those late night deliveries on the weekends). While this would not be a required shift/schedule for a courier, it’s still unclear if Job Support would call couriers that were late or didn’t make the entire block – but we’re betting they would simply be disqualified from the incentive instead, which gets around the scheduling issue and the employee-employer relationship snafu that’s currently quite the mess for couriers nationwide.

During a recent Reddit thread, where Postmates couriers nationwide were going crazy over another change regarding how they are paid out for jobs, and can no longer see what they’re delivering – which at least solves the non-tippers database problem¬† – Postmates investor turned Director of Operations, Russell Cook, stopped by the thread to give some insight, and alluded to the new no-schedule model, but didn’t give many specifics:

First off, glad to hear you've been enjoying AllTrails! Those guys are working on some exciting things leadings into spring/summer. I enjoyed every minute of my time there and am glad to still be involved from advisor perspective. Lots of insightful comments and thoughts here. I can't say too much about it right now but you're not too far off on a couple of major initiatives we're working on right now to help increase jobs/hour and eventually replace the schedule. Worth taking a screenshot of your post above and looking back at it once we announce some of those improvements in a few months. I think you're going to dig them.

Here was the statement he responded to:

Russell! Is that really you? If so, want to start say thanks for AllTrails. I'm an avid hiker, huge supporter and a premium subscriber of the site :) I know my comment is long, but would love to hear a response of some kind if you're so inclined. Main two things on my mind right now: 1) issues with courier availability exceeding customer demand and 2) incentives for couriers Have you guys ever thought about scaling back the number of couriers you hire or figuring out a more complex system of assigning priority? It can be a serious drag when the number of available couriers significantly exceeds overall demand. Are there any current plans to add some balance? It seems like 'Priority' is a good start, but even with Priority I still find myself stuck with no orders for 2 hours jumping from one Red Zone to the next. Next, Generally speaking... I'm motivated to do the best job possible so that the customers are happy with their experience because that's what I'd want as a customer (and because I like tips of course), but I don't really see Postmates rewarding couriers who provide exemplary service and that feels like a missed opportunity to me. How about giving couriers insight into what their prospectives are like via a realtime demand vs. availability meter of some sort? I know you have one :) Maybe having higher priority or payouts for people who clock in for a certain number of hours per week or after a certain number of total completed orders per week or lifetime? Maybe a third elite tier of priority for full time couriers who consistently smash every delivery thrown at them and significantly beat the estimation clock? I'm just spitballing here, but there really ought to be some kind of incentive for couriers to give a damn about this company beyond the fear of getting a bad rating or stiffed on a tip. There's no competition, no motivation to excel, and most important no 'why' for the drivers and bikers who are helping this service expand. Why not create a culture around this? Give us a reason to care about this company. I know Postmates is very different from the traditional employee-employer relationship, but tracking and rewarding metrics like these could possibly make a difference in people's overall satisfaction with what they're doing. And could ultimately make the company better and likely more popular. It makes more sense to me to have couriers who care about Postmates and actually want to grow with them and actually want to rep them. Instead I feel a mixture of desperation, shame, and ultimately acceptance. Seems logical that happy couriers would lead to happy customers and maybe just maybe... even happier customers.

While Russell wouldn’t give actual confirmation, after publication we were sent this screencap from the Chicago Postmates group, where their Postmates Community Manager for Chicago (an actual employee), Daniel Corley, confirmed that schedules are, indeed, going away. Corley said While it is true the schedule will be going away, it’s because there are SO many schedule abusers – people that take every shift, but never show up – hurting those that want priority. Of course, the corporate folks won’t let them say it’s to keep us from losing a lawsuit, so this excuse sounds as good as any. And we’re disappointed you’re not a fan, Daniel, but looks like we got this one right on the money.

corley confirms

Will no-schedules be a good or bad thing for Postmates? Will the couriers revolt as many have in markets with the new payout structure? Only time will tell – and only time will tell exactly what this new ‘no schedule’ schedule will look like once it comes out of beta testing and goes live nationwide.

postmates biz model canvas

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One Thought to “Postmates: Courier Schedules Going Away”

  1. carolyn

    Postmates is awesome I have been with them since they started in San Diego. And they are the best delivery service available. I prefer the go awa. Then I can work when I can. And, not have to wait until my schedule :o)

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