Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions against the aggressor nation are already causing economic havok the world over. Inflation is on the rise, causing the price of essentials like food, medicine and fuel to spike. Domestically, these additional financial strains are being deeply felt by gig economy workers and delivery drivers who are now struggling to stay on the road as gas averages $4.41 a gallon nationwide. In response, some delivery apps have extended financial lifelines to the “independent contractors” that their businesses rely upon — but not all of them and not entirely without a catch.
Instacart is the latest service to adjust its pricing in response, announcing on Friday morning that it will institute a 40-cent per order surcharge “over the next month” to help offset the increased costs to its drivers, which have seen a 71-cent increase since February 28th.
Uber has already imposed a fuel surcharge of its own, though the amount depends on which state the driver is in and how far the trip is going. Roughly, the surcharge for a passenger Uber ride will be between $0.45 to $0.55 per trip while having the food brought to you instead of the other way around will see a $0.35 to $0.45 per trip charge added on. The charge went into effect on Wednesday and will be reevaluated in 60 days, according to the company. Uber, beacon of fair labor practices that it is, has made assurances that the added charges will go directly to drivers. And yes, cheapskates, the surcharge applies even if you and/or your food is riding in an EV.
Nearly identically, Lyft announced on Monday that it will charge a flat $0.55 per trip fee — ICE vehicle or not — starting next week and leave it in place for 60 days. Additionally drivers can get 4 – 6 percent cashback on gas through June if they use the company-branded debit card.
“We’ve been closely monitoring rising gas prices and their impact on our driver community,” Lyft senior communications manager CJ Macklin told Engadget in a statement. “Driver earnings overall remain elevated compared to last year, but given the rapid rise in gas prices we’ll be asking riders to pay a temporary fuel surcharge, all of which will go to drivers.”
DoorDash has enacted a similar cashback scheme for its drivers as well, though you’ll want to grab a pencil and calculator before trying to navigate it.
“Beginning on March 17th, drivers for Doordash will be able to receive 10% cashback on gas purchases, though only if they’re enrolled in the company’s own DasherDirect Visa cards,” Engadget reporter Amrita Khalid explains. “On top of that, drivers who drive a certain amount of miles per week will qualify for weekly gas rewards, ranging from $5 to $15 per week. Unlocking the $5 discount requires drivers to complete at least 100 miles worth of trips in a week. Drivers who total more than 225 miles worth of trips will earn a $15 weekly bonus.”
That translates into around $2 of rewards per gallon, depending on the distance a Dasher drives.
Amazon Flex workers — drivers who use their own vehicles to make deliveries for the online retailer’s Prime, Whole Foods and Fresh branded orders — have, not unsurprisingly, largely been left to their own devices in navigating these higher fuel prices. “We’ve already made several adjustments through pricing surges in impacted areas to help ease some of the financial challenges,” an Amazon spokesperson told MSNBC on Thursday. “As the situation evolves, we’ll continue to make changes where we can to help support our partners.” The company is “closely monitoring the situation,” said the spokesperson.
Engadget has reached out to Caviar (owned by DoorDash), GrubHub, Postmates (owned by Uber) and Shipt for comment and will update this post upon their replies.
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