All values mentioned are in Canadian Dollars (CAD)

Skip the Dishes is a pretty huge company. If you live in Canada I'm sure you've heard of them. You may have even ordered food from them. You know, the company that shits out billboards in every major city and hires A-list actors to promote their service?

Did you also know that they couldn't care less about their couriers?

Over Spring Break I worked 74 hours for Skip the Dishes and 6 hours for Uber Eats in Calgary, AB. I figured it would be slightly busier that week, since people would be visiting from out of town ordering food to their hotel rooms, and some couriers may have gone on vacation, leaving more orders for other couriers like me.

But after working 74 hours for Skip, I made $884.19. With 6 hours on shift for Uber Eats, I made $22.50. But, I had to drive 1326 KM to deliver those orders. I use $0.50 per KM to estimate my expenses, which is actually slightly lower than the Canadian Government's recommended value ($0.58/KM for the first 5000KM, and $0.52 /KM after that). So, my vehicle expenses for the week was about $663. Meaning my net income (technically 'taxable income') was $243.69. That's barely over $3 an hour...

If you didn't know, Alberta's minimum wage recently went up to $15 an hour, which is actually quite close to a livable wage. But I only made about one fifth of that. You may be surprised, but this isn't rare for my zone in South Calgary. I moved here from Edmonton about 6 months ago, and I've yet to work a single shift with Skip the Dishes where I was able to make minimum wage. Even before expenses. Working in Edmonton seemed to be a little bit better for me, but I still rarely made anywhere near what I could have by working at my closest McDonald's.

So, why do I still deliver for them, let alone try to do it full time? Believe me, it's not by choice. I honestly despise this company. But it's my only option. I have an episodic disability called Meniere's Disease, which is a somewhat rare vestibular (balance) disorder of the inner ear. I have vertigo attacks at random with various intensity. My worst attacks last for a few hours, and require up to 6 months of recovery time, during which I can barely get out of bed. My head spins like crazy if I move it the wrong way, and I'm extremely sensitive to light and sound.

Obviously, it's impossible for me to hold on to a 'real' job with a set schedule. Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats are the only type of work that I can do. If anyone has a recommendation for something else I can do to make a consistent amount of money, I'm all ears. Seriously. Help me. Please.

Seems like I should be a candidate for government assistance, right? Nope. I was denied disability by the province of Alberta and can't get income support because my SO, who works part time at minimum wage, makes 'too much' money for us to qualify for ongoing support. I've given up on trying to get support from the government. I'm on my own now.

Unfortunately I need money to live, so when I feel well enough to drive and work, I go hard at it, because the bills just keep piling up when I'm recovering from an attack. But I can't even make as much with Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats as I would if I worked at any fast food joint or retail store, and that's extremely pathetic.

Skip the Dishes 'employs' couriers as Independent Contractors. This means that we are solely responsible for paying taxes on our income and covering all of our expenses. We are not entitled to any hours or any minimum pay, and our partnership can be terminated at any time for any reason. This is a very controversial 'feature' of these trashy app-based 'gig economy' companies. These are the very same companies that are getting sued all over the world by contract workers who believe the companies are taking advantage of Independent Contractor guidelines.

Basically, this is not what contract work is meant to be. In the case of the main delivery companies that operate in Canada; Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, Doordash, and Foodora, each individual delivery is a 'contract'. Drivers can reject any orders that are sent to their courier app if they are unsatisfied with the terms (transit pay + tip, restaurant location, or customer location). Unfortunately, these companies don't want you to know that you have these rights and actively try to hide that information from you. I don't have personal experience delivering with Foodora or Doordash, and I have limited experience with Uber Eats, so I won't go into very much detail on the way they treat their couriers. But I've driven for Skip the Dishes for over 3 years, in 3 different cities which are in 2 separate provinces.

Skip the Dishes is finally rolling out a change to the courier app that makes it evident that you don't have to do every single order that you receive. But prior to this, they did not make it clear in any way that this is the case. I myself had no idea that I could reassign orders for the first year and a half or so of delivering for them. I used to do every single order that was sent to me, no matter how unsatisfied I was with it. Before the recent change, you had to call or message in-app to have an order reassigned to another courier. Now, you are presented with a new order, and you have 2 minutes to decide if it's worth your time and effort. If you don't hit the 'Accept' button within that time, the order is automatically reassigned.

This is a great change, but it's just too little, too late. At this point, most of the competent and/or smart drivers have stopped delivering for Skip the Dishes. They've moved on to greener pastures. All that's left for full-time drivers is people that have no other choice, like myself. You know, people that can't otherwise be employed at a 'real' job.

I haven't always suffered from this disorder. I used to be in relatively good health. My resume isn't amazing or anything, but I have some good experience in customer support, training, and I.T., all of which is near useless since I can't guarantee adequate attendance for any job.

But I don't think I deserve to be treated like I'm less than nothing, which is how I feel on a consistent basis while working with Skip the Dishes. I can't even get a response from a human when I message Courier Support while on shift. Every answer is a canned response which seems to be automated and triggered by keywords. Half the time, they don't even solve your issue. I've had to ask multiple times to reassign an order that is clearly a mistake. Once I was able to do 2 orders with Uber Eats while waiting for a Skip order to be reassigned. See screenshots below.

Left screenshot stands alone

I've actually 'quit' Skip the Dishes multiple times after getting treated like I'm incompetent garbage. Unfortunately I keep coming back for lack of other options. The most egregious incident I had happened after I was assigned an order with no tip.

If you didn't know, Skip the Dishes actually allows customers to tip before receiving their service. In fact, it's recommended for them to do so. This is kind of a backwards system (don't getting me started on tipping in general, it's a stupid North American thing that needs to die already), but it's necessary because of how little Skip charges the customer for a delivery fee. Skip couriers are paid 100% of the delivery fee (AKA transit pay) and 100% of the tip. But the transit pay on average is so low, that orders with no tip can often make the courier lose money. I don't know about other couriers, but I don't like to lose money while working.

Back to the story. As I said, I was assigned an order with no tip. This was back before I knew I could reassign orders at will. So I was annoyed, but I started driving to the restaurant anyway. It was a Fatburger in West Edmonton. The courier app will show you the customer's address before you drive to the restaurant, and I glanced at it but didn't think too much about it before going in to the restaurant to pick up the food. I get back to my car, put the customer's food in my thermal delivery bag, and hit a button on the app to navigate to the customer's address.

This is when I realize that the address that I thought I recognized to be just a few minutes down the street was actually 20 minutes away, in rush hour traffic. The transit pay for this order was $5.30, which is on the low side but not the minimum. I thought there must be some sort of mistake, so I quickly messaged courier support to make sure they would fix it before I started driving.

It took almost 20 minutes for them to reply. I would have called the support line but I actually had no idea at the time that there was a phone number for courier support, they don't advertise that at all. The first reply said something like "Let me look into that for you".

So I kept waiting. Another 10 minutes passed, and I get a reply that is obviously from a different support agent (they don't give you their names). This one asked why I hadn't moved in over 25 minutes, to which I replied about waiting to hear back about the error in compensation.

At this point, I know the customer probably isn't getting this food. It's starting to get soggy from the steam building up inside my thermal bag. No one wants to eat a soggy burger. But I want to see what courier support will do about this, so I continue to wait. Finally, after getting no help from courier support after waiting an additional 10 minutes, someone from Skip calls me.

They asked what was happening with the order, and I explained the problem with the compensation and the ridiculously long wait times for useless replies from the courier support chat. The gentleman on the phone ensured me that the compensation was correct. Now, I'm not dumb, I know how to do quick math to find out how much in gas it takes to do an order and whether or not it's worth it. The customer's address was in a community that was basically on the outskirts of Edmonton.

I like to call these cookie cutter, single developer communities 'suburban hell'. They shouldn't exist, but since they do, they shouldn't be able to get food delivered from the city for cheap. The problem with delivering to these fringe communities is that they're basically barren. There's almost no restaurants out there, so the chances of me getting another order from a restaurant close to the customer is near-zero. Which means I'll have to drive back to the city without getting paid.

I had a lot of time to wait while courier support was dicking me around, so I calculated exactly how much gas it would take to complete this order. It was a little over $3. The order from start to finish would have taken me nearly an hour, which means by doing it with no tip, I would be making a $2.25 for an hour of work. Fuck that. You might think that if a customer specifies a $0 tip in the app that it means they'll have a cash tip at the door, but in the dozens upon dozens of no tip orders I had done, that had never once happened. The only times I've been given a cash tip on a 'paid online' order was when they had already tipped in the app.

I told this to the support rep who called me. He told me that they would have been able to compensate me an additional $1.80 had I completed the order and messaged them afterwards. I told him that still wasn't nearly enough for an order like this. Since the food was now bad, the support rep told me to just forget about the order. My shift was over now after that lengthy debacle, so I went home for the night.

The next morning, I get a call from a different support rep. I think this guy was higher up, he sounded a bit more authoritative. He was also kind of an asshole. He wanted me to explain to him what happened with the order from hell. So I explained it to him in detail. He accused me of holding the customer's food hostage. I told him that it wasn't my fault that I was dicked around for over 40 minutes waiting for an answer from courier support, and that I will never complete an order while having faith that they will compensate me afterwards to make it profitable for me.

I had actually had an experience just in the previous week where I was sent way out of my zone to deliver to a customer, and had to drive 25 minutes back without another order. I sent an email to support asking for compensation, and I never got a response. I explained to the man on the phone that since gas was 30¢ higher than normal I had to be a lot more picky about which orders I completed.

His solution for the rise in gas prices? Sign up for a garbage credit card that Skip was promoting to couriers to save 3.5¢ per litre. I'm not making this shit up. They also probably get a huge commission for every courier they extort ahem convince to sign-up. Skip the Dishes does not raise transit pay when gas prices skyrocket. They don't give a shit. Us couriers just have to deal with the fact that we'll be making way less money. I'm not okay with that, and no one else should be either.

After this wonderful interaction, I stopped doing Skip the Dishes for about 6 months. Not because I was sick, but because I was fed up. This isn't even close to the first or only time they've treated me this way, this was just the most blatant and ridiculous.

Skip the Dishes doesn't care about their couriers, and they definitely don't care about the environment. A few months ago while delivering in Calgary, I was sent to pick up food a bit North of my zone, near Chinook Mall. The customer was quite far South from the restaurant, but the transit pay and tip were 'good enough' so I drove to the restaurant. When I got there, another courier was waiting to pick up his order. We chatted for a minute or so while waiting. Nice guy.

A restaurant worker brought out 2 bags of food, and after confirming our order numbers, he handed us each one of the bags. I noticed at the time that the bags looked identical, but this is not out of the ordinary. The other courier and I both got in our cars and got ready to drive to our respective customers.

He pulled out of the parking lot first, with me following behind. Like I said, the customer was quite far away, so I had to get onto Deerfoot Trail (major freeway in Calgary, North to South). The courier in front of me also turned onto the Deerfoot. For about 10 minutes I was following directly behind him. We passed exit after exit, and each time I expected him to turn off. But nope.

It seems like we were delivering to the same community. We took the exact same exit, to a neighborhood in the South East. I thought it was strange that Skip would send 2 couriers from the same restaurant to the same community, but whatever, they never give out double orders. But me and the other courier keep taking the same exact turns that Google Maps was telling me to take. Turn after turn, me behind this other guy.

Finally, I lose him at a traffic light. I silently wished farewell to my courier friend as he sped away, then continued on to my destination once the light turned green. I pulled up to the customer's address, and what do I see? My new friend, walking down the steps after just dropping off his food.

It was the exact same address.  

At this point, I remember how similar the packages of food looked, and think that it must have been an accidental double order or something. But I have a job to do, so I walk up to the house anyways, passing my friend on the sidewalk and exchanging confused looks. Turns out, my order wasn't a mistake. Two different people in the same house ordered the same food from the same restaurant at the exact same time. Weird, but whatever. If they want to pay two delivery fees and two separate tips, be my guest.

But here's the problem; why in the actual fuck did Skip send 2 couriers?

Either one of us could have completed these orders by ourselves. It was not much food, it could have easily fit into one thermal delivery bag. But Skip sent two drivers, in 2 cars, adding to traffic, polluting the environment just a little bit more, so that they can give more drivers orders and reduce complaints from bored ones. I am not OK with this in any way. It's an absolutely ridiculous waste of resources.

In my 3 years of delivering for them, I have had only one double order. The app is capable of handling double orders no problem, in fact it was quite streamlined. It was also very profitable for me. I delivered from the same restaurant in Burnaby, BC, to two different student residence buildings at Simon Fraser University, which is on top of Burnaby Mountain. Usually delivering to the top of the mountain is annoying, but this time it was great because I made about 30 bucks for 45 minutes of work. But they seemingly don't give out double orders anymore. I know they don't trust their couriers, because they had to message me to ask if I was OK with doing a double order. What do you think I am, an idiot? Literally anyone can figure that out.

I'm pretty sure the problem is that Skip has way too many drivers. This is because they'll hire basically anyone who can talk and who has a car with a valid driver's license and insurance. They didn't even start doing background checks until last month (which the courier-to-be has to pay for themselves, because fuck you that's why). My hiring process 3 years ago consisted of me filling out a simple online form, doing a 5 minute screening call where they pretty much only asked if I had a car charger (the app drains your battery like crazy) and then uploading scans of my license, registration, and insurance. After paying $75 for my thermal bags, I was on the road making sub-par amounts of money.

They don't tell you much about how the app works during this process, they basically just send you out there on your own to figure it out. Now, I knew that the customer was able to track the courier to see exactly when their food is arriving, but Skip didn't tell me the extent of it. I'm a cheap/poor motherfucker, so I don't order food for delivery unless it's a very special occasion. I had never ordered Skip the Dishes before I started driving for them, and still hadn't until at least 6 months afterwards. When I finally did, what I saw shocked me to my core.

Not only can you track the courier while they deliver your food, you can also track their exact movements before they even get to the restaurant. I did not know this. I was never told this. When I saw what was happening in the app after ordering, I honestly felt betrayed. This is an extreme violation of my privacy as a courier, which I did not knowingly authorize.

You might not understand why this is such an egregious privacy violation, so let me clear it up a bit.

When I start a shift for Skip, I typically don't leave home until I get an order. I live pretty close to quite a few restaurants, so I don't have any trouble getting orders. But it's typically quite slow, so it can take over half an hour to get my first order. I don't like to sit and wait in my car more than necessary, so I chill at home until it's time to work. Skip doesn't like to send couriers to pick up food early, so they'll usually do a 'soft assign', where they queue up an order for a courier but don't notify us until the food is almost ready. But the customer gets notified the second that a courier is assigned to their order, and they are able to instantly track exactly where that courier is.

I don't know for certain, but I'm pretty sure that the customer is able to track the courier before the order shows up on their courier app. The few times I've ordered from Skip I've watched as the courier either sits in the same spot for a while or drives the wrong direction from the restaurant they're assigned to. They could be completing their last order. I don't know about other couriers, but I typically start driving to a restaurant pretty much instantly after getting assigned to it, which leads me to believe the customer can track us before we even know we're getting an order.

So the first customer of every shift knows where I live. Fantastic. This is pretty fucked up already, but what if I didn't start my shift at home? What if I was doing something much more embarrassing? What if I was browsing through an 'adult' store? What if I was getting a quick rub-and-tug at a seedy massage parlor? What if I was picking up my girlfriend at an abortion clinic? Where the fuck is my privacy, and why wasn't I told that it was being violated before I started delivering?

I honestly don't even want customers to see that I accidentally made a wrong turn on the way to their house, or that I had to stop for a pee-break because my bladder is about to burst. They don't need to see where I am on a map. Just give them an exact ETA, for fuck's sake.

But it's not just my privacy, either. If I get another order instantly after finishing my last one, the new customer can see where the old customer lives. They can watch me finish up my last delivery in explicit detail. I'm pretty sure no one consented to that. This shit should not be allowed in a post-Snowden era, and I have no idea why other couriers or customers aren't making a bigger deal out of this. It makes my skin crawl. I'm not even comfortable with Skip the Dishes being able to track my every movement, but I understand that it's necessary so they can give me efficient orders.

You also have no idea what kind of person you're delivering to with these jobs. It could be a complete psycho that gets mad that you were late, or the food was too cold, or whatever perceived slight they may think you purposely cast upon them. These deranged people could have access to my address. They will also get my phone number if I have to call them for any reason.

Luckily I'm not attractive, because I'm sure there's some creeps that harass the couriers that have the misfortune of delivering to them. Same goes for customers who get creepy couriers delivering to them, honestly, since Skip wasn't doing background checks for so long. They're not doing them retroactively either, most of the couriers delivering your food are unverified. Be afraid.

I'm not sure if it's possible to have a better experience delivering for another company. I've tried. I work a bit for Uber Eats because the app is way better (built-in navigation) and their base pay is almost high enough to make minimum wage without tips (which is important because almost no one tips on Uber Eats), but I get way less orders than Skip, and they're pretty much all for McDonald's. Everyone lives near a Mcdonald's and these short deliveries don't pay much because they're so quick.

I can't work for Foodora because they only operate downtown and utilize mostly bike couriers. I live pretty deep South and I'm not exactly in great shape, so that's out of the question. I will never ever even think about working for Doordash, because they think it's OK to steal courier's tips to subsidize their delivery fees. Fuck you, Doordash. Eat a dick.

I also tried delivering for a local pizza place that only takes phone orders. They don't have any kind of online ordering system. But I had to work a set schedule, and they had way too few orders because of, you guessed it, Skip the Dishes completely dominating the delivery market. It was an independent contractor position as well, so I was only paid when there was orders to deliver. I had to quit after one month.

Hey Skip corporate, here's some free advice, because I feel like a day of reckoning is upon you. If you continue to treat your couriers like brainless idiots and pay them as such, they will all quit, and you will crash and burn along with the rest of the scum-sucking, independent contractor-abusing asshole delivery companies. Do you want to know how to adapt? Stop hiring every single person who applies and do some actual screenings on your couriers. Institute a real interview process. Find some drivers who are competent and willing to work full-time, and pay them minimum wage plus tips. Give them double orders when it makes sense, they can handle it. Your customers will have a consistent experience, the drivers will make a consistent amount of money, and everyone will be happier. You'll even still make a fuck-ton of money for your British overlords, Just Eat.

Adapt or die, your choice. At this point, I would be happy to see this entire industry crash and burn to the ground, because something better might actually rise from the ashes. Something that pays a fair wage with literally any benefits, because as it stands now, we have nothing. And that's just not fair.