DoorDash Drivers Game the Algorithm
Online group #DeclineNow is trying to increase driver pay by attempting to limit the supply of drivers that accept lower paying jobs
A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek profiled gig economy workers Dave Levy and Nikos Kanelopoulos, leaders of #DeclineNow, a Facebook group for DoorDash drivers. #DeclineNow is trying to increase driver pay by attempting to limit the supply of drivers that accept lower paying jobs. The idea is simple enough, but hard to execute in practice given there are likely tens if not hundreds of thousands of independent contractors who “Dash” for DoorDash at any given time. Levy and Kanelopoulos, who met each other in 2015 at a local airport parking lot when they were driving for Uber, noticed that when one DoorDash driver declined a delivery, the platform would offer it to another for slightly more money. Based on this observation in October 2019 they launched the #DeclineNow Facebook group to urge members to reject any delivery that doesn’t pay at least $7, which is more than double the current floor of $3. Realizing that there were a finite number of active drivers in their local market (Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania) the strategy worked and they were able to increase driver earnings. (Note: Currently there are three #DeclineNow Facebook groups with over 10,000 members, the largest, led by Dave and Nikos, has over 30,000 members)
“In a statement, DoorDash said drivers are always free to reject orders but added that coordinated declining slows down the delivery process. The company encourages workers to accept at least 70% of deliveries offered, which awards them with “Top Dasher” status. On #DeclineNow, low acceptance rates are a badge of honor. Levy rejects about 99% of the jobs he’s offered, rapidly declining low-paying jobs to find enough lucrative ones to keep him busy.”
Given increasing driver shortage problems that are likely the result of both a re-opening economy and stimulus / enhance unemployment payments incentivizing drivers to stay off the Apps, it seems like drivers have an upper hand right now. While the article does mention the group can get aggressive with those that don’t fully comply with its rules (i.e. a suspension from the group is known as a “trip to the dungeon”), the #DeclineNow movement is undoubtedly an interesting story about drivers “hacking” the algorithm which matches orders to drivers (i.e. demand and supply). On the other hand, if the driver shortage reverses DoorDash, I presume, would likely just “deactivate” or “de-prioritize” drivers with high cancellation rates. What do you think about #DeclineNow, could NYC TLC drivers pull this off?
“For all their critiques, Levy and Kanelopoulos say they like driving for DoorDash and are simply working to improve it without violating its terms of service. But they also wonder whether the company is listening. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Levy was waiting for orders in the area where he generally works. A Chick-fil-A delivery paying $3.50, including tip, popped up on his phone. He reached to decline, which requires the driver to select from a list of reasons. “Notice how on there, there was no option that said ‘not enough money,’ ” he says.”
Link to full article.
Auto Marketplace NYC Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of Auto Marketplace NYC. He covers the NYC for-hire transportation industry and related news. Search Auto Marketplace NYC for cars, parts, tires, technicians, body shops, reviews & more. Find great deals at TLCMKT.COM (new site AutoMarketplace.io to be launched soon, sign-up to the newsletter if you are interested to learn more ahead of launch)