Americans are tipping their delivery drivers less often than they did last year. DoorDash is seeking to reverse that trend with an automated nudge — one that carries a hint of a threat.
The food delivery service is testing out a new in-app warning that encourages non-tipping customers to rethink their decisions.
Customers selecting a $0 tip while placing orders now see a pop-up message cautioning that orders without tips might take longer to be delivered. The tech news site The Verge first reported the change.
“Orders with no tip might take longer to get delivered — are you sure you want to continue?” the pop-up reads. “Dashers can pick and choose which orders they want to do. Orders that take longer to be accepted by Dashers tend to result in slower delivery.”
DoorDash said it began rolling out the “reminder screen” to customers a couple of months ago, but it generated buzz after a tweet showing a screenshot of the warning began circulating on Tuesday.
There has been growing confusion — and resentment — over tipping etiquette coming out of the pandemic, but declining to tip on food delivered to one’s door is still a clear faux pas.
The new DoorDash pop-up doesn’t change anything about ordering on the app or the delivery experience — it’s a warning for customers about what may go on behind the scenes. Already, DoorDash drivers, also known as Dashers, can see how much money they can expect to make from a delivery before accepting an order. If a payout looks low, it might take longer for a Dasher to accept the order.
Dashers aren’t told precisely how much a customer is tipping, but experienced delivery drivers can tell when something looks unusually low.
Gig workers who offer driving services already use their discretion when deciding which jobs to take on, with many competing apps vying for their services.
“As independent contractors, Dashers have full freedom to accept or reject offers based on what they view as valuable and rewarding,” Jenn Rosenberg, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement. “While the vast majority of customers do leave a tip, offers that don’t include a tip can be seen as less desirable — this impacts our entire community, leading to longer wait times for customers, orders sitting longer at merchants, and less value for Dashers.”
DoorDash has seen a reduction in $0 tip orders since beginning the test.
A model like DoorDash’s that encourages tipping before the service is received has challenged traditional conventions. The current model disadvantages customers who prefer to tip in cash and those who tip after an order has been delivered based on the quality of service. At the same time, it offers transparency to drivers whose incomes are tied to the jobs they accept.
The DoorDash pop-up comes as attitudes toward tipping are shifting, and Americans are tipping less frequently than they did a year ago, according to a Bankrate survey from June.
Fifty percent of respondents said they always tipped their food delivery drivers in 2023, down from 57% in 2022 and 59% in 2021. Seven percent of respondents said they never tipped delivery drivers, and 18% said they do “only sometimes.”
The survey found that two-thirds of U.S. adults have a negative view of tipping — 30% think that “tipping culture has gotten out of control” and 41% believe that businesses should pay employees better rather than relying so much on tips.