Here’s what happened on my first shift as an on-demand food courier in Seattle. I opted to drive just for Caviar.
At 6:30 PM I drove up to Seattle from Kent. My shift starts at 7:00 PM and would end at 9:00 PM. I played it safe since I was in a new city. I had no idea what to expect since I’m just testing the waters that evening.
At the start of my shift, I camped out around 23rd Ave and E Union St.
I got my first assignment at 7:35 PM. The restaurant was Manao Thai Street Eats. I had 11 minutes to get there.
Parking was hard to find and I ended up parking a block away from the restaurant. They saw the Caviar bag as I came in and asked me “Caviar?”I said “Yes”, and they gave me the food. On my way out I found out, via the note in the app, that they were okay with me parking in their loading zone.
The dropoff was on 9th Avenue. I didn’t like that it was a single digit avenue because that means it’s downtown. I had 19 minutes to deliver the goods.
But I wasn’t going to take my time. Enter Waze, my trusty navigation app. Waze told me I’d arrive 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Win.
I arrived and there were no free parking spaces on the streets. I tried the public parking lot on 8th and Pine Street but the meter wanted $25! Forget that. I wanted to make a profit so I turned my emergency lights on in the parking lot and went to find the customer. Win.
I completed the order at 8:06 PM. The order was worth $7.11 but something interesting happened. I made $9.11 because she tipped $2.00 in the app. In-app tipping!
This is something new to me. I started questioning everything I knew: Since when did Caviar allow in-app tipping? Why don’t they have this in Portland? (Update 4/22/16: I was informed by the Portland Logistics Associate that in-app tipping was added in early February to the Caviar app across all markets. I wasn’t driving during this time because I had wrecked my Prius and was using a rental, which I returned late January).
Ten minutes after that first order, I was dispatched to Sushi Kappo Tamura for an order worth $8.22. This restaurant was near the northern tip of the Eastlake neighborhood. I had 14 minutes to get there.
Waze said I could do it in 6 minutes. I got there and this time made sure I checked the app for pickup tips.
There was a note in the app that said: “Can park back in alleyway if needed.” Turns out, it was this alley. I left my emergency lights on since it was dark and I didn’t want someone to bump into my car while I was in the restaurant.
The dropoff was 10 minutes away. I completed the order at 8:45 PM and got a $2.00 tip.
I called it a night after that second order. It was getting late and I had to drive back to Kent, WA.
I didn’t prepare any strategy for this shift. I just winged it and made $19.33 in 70 minutes (7:35 pm to 8:45 pm) which is about $16.56 an hour.
I have only positive things to say about Seattle from my first shift. For starter, the in-app tipping feature was an awesome surprise. I like that the restaurants let couriers know where to look for parking. This isn’t as common with the restaurants in Portland.
I felt very comfortable walking into the restaurants with my Caviar bag because I knew the staff was expecting me (this is not true with Postmates). The staffs were very helpful. This is one of the nice things about Caviar’s business model. Couriers are treated like they are an extension of the restaurants’ business.
The worst part was the commuting between Seattle and Kent. It’s such a waste of gas, I wish I was staying closer to downtown Seattle.