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Dashing into tip culture

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

By Amie Ahn and Lauren Wilson Dec. 14, 2023

“Orders with no tip might take longer to get delivered—are you sure you want to continue?” the screen asks. This message is part of an effort to increase benefits for Doordash’s employees. The shift has shed light on the financial well-being of struggling workers and the controversies surrounding tip culture.

Mingyue Xiao Art

Since November, DoorDash has implemented a feature on its app for users in the U.S. and Canada: customers who enter zero tips may receive a pop-up warning, explaining that the drivers—also known as Dashers—will prioritize orders with tips. Additionally, Doordash removed the ability to reduce a tip after placing an order to prevent tip-baiting—where customers give a tip to get their food faster but cancel it after delivery. The revamped features aim to enhance the overall experience for all involved, as Dashers are predicted to be more motivated to fulfill orders when they receive tips, as stated by The Independent News. However, no-tip customers could face longer wait times; those food orders tend to sit longer at restaurants before being transported, negatively impacting customer experience.

DoorDash announced that their goal was successful, with this recent addition resulting in a reduction of no-tip orders. Still, a DoorDash spokesperson claimed that the feature is only in testing and did not specify how much tipping has increased.

“Orders with tips must be prioritized in order to better compensate Dashers beyond the base rate. Dashing is a job that pays minimum wage for the maximum amount of work. Tips are what keeps Dashers going,” Sophomore Tara Brink said.

According to Indeed, the average Dasher earns $17.09 an hour in California, with a significant portion coming from tips. Most dashers are only paid a base pay before tips between $2 and $10 per hour.

In 2017, DoorDash faced backlash against a policy where tips from customers were not distributed to Dashers. In response, the company agreed to a fixed amount for the delivery, and tips were used to supplement that fixed pay rather than directly go to the drivers, per the San Francisco Chronicle. The controversy led to a $2.5 million lawsuit settlement in 2019, prompting DoorDash to abandon the criticized policy. The public outcry prompted CEO Tony Xu to bring change, as he realized that the past policy reduced tipping since customers felt that their tips would not help Dashers anyway.

In October, the U.N. faulted DoorDash, along with Amazon and Walmart, for essentially exploiting their workers to poverty. The U.N. asserted that DoorDash’s freelance workers occasionally earned less than the federal minimum wage, with their wages limited to “active time” spent on deliveries. Other food delivery companies also pay some workers below the minimum wage; according to Indeed, hourly earnings at Uber Eats vary from around $12.00 to $23.27 per hour for courier drivers. In terms of annual salaries, the average salaries at Uber Eats for delivery drivers spans from about $30,000 to $62,388.

The common courtesy of tipping is often used to accommodate for low-paying service jobs, such as bartending, waitressing and food delivery. Just like DoorDash and its pop-up warning, other services have developed ways to encourage their customers to tip. For instance, many self-order kiosks offer numerous percentage options for tipping, which encourages customers to tip larger amounts. For DoorDash, the new policy prioritizing tips promotes fair compensation, but the reliance on these tips underscores the economic challenges faced by the workers.

“Currently, poverty and inflation are vital problems in America, and many adults struggle to meet their basic necessities. DoorDash and other minimum wage service workers deserve to be treated with respect for their efforts, which can be shown through tipping,” Junior Thien Nguyen said.

While many believe that the updates to DoorDash’s tipping policy are a good step towards fair compensation for employees, others argue that there is still room for improvement to ensure a better working environment. By addressing issues related to minimum pay assurance and refining payment structures, DoorDash and several other large corporations could contribute to creating a more equitable and supportive working environment for employees.


About the Contributors

Amie Ahn

staff writer

Amie Ahn is a freshman at Leland High School and is a writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys eating, sleeping, and spending time with her friends.

Lauren Wilson

staff writer

Lauren Wilson is a Junior at Leland High School and is the Last Word and Investigative Report Page-Editor for The Charger Account. She enjoys to volunteer with animals and do cheer.

Mingyue Xiao


Mingyue Xiao is a freshman at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. She does dance, pottery and loves to read.

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