SEATTLE — Food delivery orders have been plummeting since Seattle implemented new minimum wage requirements for delivery workers a month ago.
The additional cost has tacked on more fees for customers, sparking ire and backlash. It’s also caused work for delivery drivers to tank.
A spokesperson for Uber told KIRO 7 Monday night that Uber Eats drivers in Seattle are now waiting 30 percent longer for jobs, and it is “tracking a steady decline in demand from customers.”
“I didn’t get an order for like 6 hours and I was like done,” said Tony Illes, a now former Uber Eats driver.
In fact, Illes has now gone rogue – he’s launched his own one-man food delivery service called “Tony Delivers.” His service only charges $5 per food delivery order.
Illes said he wanted to find a solution because he knew customers were upset and unable to afford the higher delivery costs.
It wasn’t hard for KIRO 7 to find customers who recently quit DoorDash after the new additional fees. In fact, it seems both drivers and customers say the new ordinance is not working.
Jordan Barker said he used to regularly get food delivered until he got the bill for an order after the ordinance kicked in last month.
“It was a huge shock,” Barker said. “I personally have stopped using DoorDash and Uber Eats,” he said. KIRO 7 caught up with him outside the South Lake Union Shake Shack – a 15-minute walk away from his home.
“I shouldn’t have ordered it to begin with,” Barker said, “But (now) it’s just completely crazy,” he said.
Another DoorDash customer named Nohemi showed us her receipt that shows the new $4.99 regulatory fee because of the law. That’s on top of the delivery fee, service charges, higher menu prices, and a tip.
“That adds up!” Nohemi said. “The fees are really high here in Seattle,” she said.
For delivery workers like Illes, he says it means work with Uber Eats dried up.
“It was dead. Demand was dead,” Illes said. But then he and his friends started thinking – how about cutting out the middleman?
“What if there was just a guy. I was like wait a minute, here I am! Why not be the guy?” Illes said.
And that’s how www.TonyDelivers.co was born. He charges just $5 bucks for a delivery.
“It’s not that hard. I can make your day better,” he said. He said a friend built him the website, and another encouraged him to take on the project.
“What are you without your people?” Illes said.
Since he is just one guy on his e-bike, he only serves neighborhoods near downtown Seattle – at least for now.
All you do is text him with your name, order, and address – his phone number is on his website.
“And I text back like, ‘Hey, hey.’ It’s kind of an informal experience,” Illes said.
KIRO 7′s Deedee Sun tested it out – placing a F.O.B Poke order from the KIRO 7 studios. Our crew could not beat Illes to the restaurant by car.
Illes says business is booming.
“It’s great,” Illes said. “I might even expand to breakfast,” he said. Customers pay Illes via Apple Pay, Google Pay, or cash.
For some people, it all shows something’s not working with the system.
“What person making a normal income can afford that?” Barker said.
Meanwhile, Illes says for him and his customers, it’s a win-win.
“They’re just excited to see me! They’re like - dude I can’t believe you’re doing this,” he said. “And if I can brighten up your day that’s awesome,” Illes said.
KIRO 7 asked the City of Seattle if the City Council will consider rolling back the ordinance – after all, the councilmembers who passed it have largely been replaced.
The Communications Manager from the Office of Labor Standards said in a statement in part, “…it is far too early to make an assessment. The law has been in effect less than a month. The city will be monitoring these and other metrics going forward” and that “The law does not require companies to increase prices for customers.”
An Uber spokesperson said by phone that if some of the costs were not passed on to customers, it would lose money on every order.
Full statements from Uber and DoorDash below:
“The new law has only been in effect for 4 weeks and we are tracking a steady decline in demand from customers, resulting in couriers spending on average 30% more time waiting for delivery work than before the ordinance went into effect.” - Uber Spokesperson
“Under this new law, Dashers who deliver in Seattle now earn at least $26.40 per hour, before tips, plus additional pay for mileage while on delivery--far exceeding Seattle’s minimum wage. We warned the previous City Council that we would likely need to implement a new fee to help offset some of the costs of this unprecedented policy. Our hope is that the newly elected Council will come to the table in search of a solution that works better for Dashers, merchants and consumers in Seattle.”
Uber also mentioned that another $0.10 fee per food order would be taking effect in 2025 because of another City of Seattle ordinance passed under the 2023 city council.
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