How to be broke in one week at Deliveroo

I’m a Deliveroo rider, and this is my story about why I’m broke:

While working at Deliveroo one small incident can dramatically change your living conditions. This is all because of an unfair shift booking system, too many riders, and a company that pushes the consequences of not getting enough customers for their workers. All of this happened to me in the last two weeks. It is my personal experience, but unfortunately there are hundreds of stories like this in the city. So let me tell you what happened…
As you probably know, to be able to work you first need to register for a shift. It is not easy, as there are far more riders than free shifts. Deliveroo constantly “hires” new people. Well, actually they don’t hire anyone, as everybody is offered only a freelance contract. This way Deliveroo has no costs of getting more and more people on board, but the number of shifts remains the same.

Berlin is divided into different zones. The shifts are also not equally profitable. There are zones and time periods where it is impossible to make even an average of 5 euro per hour (believe me, many of us tried). But it is worth taking shifts in zones with lots of restaurants and customers, at times when people order more food. During these shifts you can earn easily 15 euro per hour. But shifts like this are few. All the shifts are one hour long.

In order to manage the shifts Deliveroo developed a system that divides all the riders into 3 groups. All the shifts for the coming week are released on one day. The first group has first access to the booking system before the others. A few hours later the second group can book shifts, and then the third. This means that the last group has very little or no choice – usually all good shifts are gone in the first round. There is also a possibility to work the same shifts one already had worked the previous week. This automated copy is also dependent on which group you are in.

Deliveroo found a very clever way to discipline workers – the evaluation of groups is done according to statistics, which are based on absence and the “order acceptance” rate. This means whenever you are 15 minutes offline (you’ve come late or had a break), the shift will be considered as an “absent” shift. You also are not allowed to cancel shifts less than 24 hour before. The statistic is also influenced by the amount of orders one rejects (some deliveries have a ridiculously long distance and are not worth doing). In order to be in the first group all statistics have to be perfect – 100% attendance on time, 0% cancellations. This way Deliveroo forces us to be always on time, take every order and have a fixed working plan – otherwise, we have no hope of being in a good group, and thus of being able to make a decent income. This way we are managed like regular contracted workers, but Deliveroo doesn’t have to cover any costs.

Having said this, I would like to show how it worked for me in the last weeks.

Two weeks ago I was in the first group. Most of my weekly shifts got copied (I had 25 working hours in a week), and everything was going fine. Unfortunately I had an accident. Nothing really serious but also not that small: I had a small brain concussion. I couldn’t work this day any more. I was all in pain – couldn’t also work the next day, and couldn’t have cancelled it before the 24-h notice rule. Of course, being a freelancer, I had no right for a paid time off. And I have to pay the bills. So three days later I had to be on my bike again – even though the doctor advised my to take care. The same day I got a flat tire. It took me more than 15 minutes to fix it – another “absent” shift. The next time I wanted to work I had a problem with my gsm network – it was a Germany wide problem for all 02-network users. It also happened out of sudden and I couldn’t do anything about it – I had no option but to cancel my shift. Within these 9 days I got kicked into the third group. On the following Monday I found out that out of my nice 25 hour working routine NONE shifts got copied to the next week. Being in the last group I could get just 3 nice working hours in the whole week. There was nothing left from a decent working schedule. With no sick leave I can’t hope to be able get any money in the next few weeks: shifts I had are gone, because I had an accident and I can hardly book any new shifts. The whole system evaluates my “performance” for the last 28 days. So I guess, I will have real problems with paying my rent this month…

Situations like this – accidents, problems with gsm networks, problem with our gear, maybe aren’t that frequent, but they are unavoidable. This happens to all of us, and is a part of the job. To get it all happen together within 10 days seems unlikely. But yet, it happened to me. In this case this working scheme offered by Deliveroo shows exactly how precarious and risky our working conditions are. It also shows that with this kind of “management” that Deliveroo imposes, all the risks are forced on us. Company never has to pay for any accidents or unlucky coincidences; all the economical costs are on us. We are the ones that take the true costs of Deliveroo poor management. This is unfair, and it needs to change!