Who got scammed and how, I’m still not entirely sure, so this situation is haunting me. I’m writing it up for the benefit of anyone else who has something similar happen.
We ordered a meal from our favorite local restaurant. We’ve used the same app to order from the same place maybe half a dozen times since COVID. This time, it was because my hubby won a prize at work and he had to submit the receipt for reimbursement.
I watched the app as the order was accepted, the food was prepared, and the driver was sent to pick it up. That’s when things started to get weird.
The driver was changed, which happens all the time with rideshare too, so I didn’t think anything of it.
Then the order looked like it was hanging. It kept saying the food was going to be delivered in one minute, then two, then five.
Then suddenly it said that I had canceled the order!
Me?? The one waiting for the food?? I think not!
I poked at the app several times, thinking maybe it had crashed.
Then I thought, what if the restaurant was closed or something unexpected happened, and there wasn’t any food in the first place? I called and got a busy signal four times in a row. I checked their website to see if they had gone under.
I had my husband look them up and try to call, in case I had somehow found a cached obsolete number. He got the hostess, and I could hear her over his phone saying that something was “very weird.”
Okay. So Driver 1 showed up, asked for the order under my name, and left with it. Then Driver 2 came and asked for my order, and they had to explain that a different DoorDash driver had already picked it up.
The hostess suggested that we reorder our food. When I tried to do that, the app responded “You do not have permission to perform this action.” Huh? Am I blocked now, as well as not getting my nice dinner?
Fast forward: my hubby installed the app, duplicated the order, paid for it, and another driver brought it, so we finally got to eat two hours after we had planned.
Now I’m trying to figure out what happened, because the food went somewhere and the money did not.
My first guess would have been that there was a glitch in the app. Something like this happened with a Grubhub order last year, where the driver lost connectivity and wasn’t able to access our address. When she finally got through, she contacted me and was very apologetic. I got a refund and my friend and I didn’t get to eat until almost 10 pm, due to an event conflict, but it was okay. The mystery was resolved.
But then... why would the app think I canceled my order? Who did cancel it? The first driver or the second driver?
Where did the second driver come from?
When this happens on rideshare, the app cancels the first driver and gives the message that someone closer was available. (Except for the time that our driver blew past us in the rain and then canceled the fare).
Is there a way for the first driver to simultaneously pick up the food and then act like they were unavailable for some reason, initiating the switch to the second driver?
How would that make sense, though? If this was an attempt to scam free food, there would be a record that the driver was assigned to that pickup, right? If there were a way for them to pick it up and then claim that I had canceled the order, then where did the second driver come from?
If the first driver got the food and then there was a glitch, then still - where did the second driver come from? And why would the email that I got claim that I canceled my own order?
I want to share that I have experienced years of food insecurity, and what I perceive in this system is someone being hungry enough to steal. In a culture that throws away literally hundreds of billions of pounds of food, where over 30% of our food production is wasted, this is both unnecessary and unacceptable. There is no reason why anyone should starve here!
So before I continue, I want to acknowledge my privilege and state that millions (or billions) more people should have that same privilege.
These are the things that bother me:
At least I hope someone ate it. If you’re curious, it was: nachos, chips and guacamole, two slices of lemon cake, and a nice vegan Cobb salad. I mean, at least I hope someone ate the salad and didn’t just throw it out. Clearly almost anyone would eat nachos and cake.
If there is a way for a driver to scam DoorDash and get free food, that gives me several thoughts, the first of which is that that person has intelligence to spare. Food delivery is probably far below what they are intellectually capable of doing, which means that all of society loses out on that talent.
My next thought is that I’m not being charged enough, which is okay - charge me what it actually costs to make sure that the driver gets a living wage. I’m a good tipper. I even would have tipped Driver 2 for his troubles, enough to get himself a snack at least?
Then I wonder, in the case of the missing lemon cake, where did that food go and who ultimately pays for it? Not me, since I already got my refund. I only paid in terms of hassle and eating two hours late.
Who paid, my favorite restaurant? Is this sort of thing going to drive them out of business? In which case - we all pay.
Did DoorDash pay? If their app has a glitch or a security flaw, then that’s a risk of their business model and they should be bearing the cost.
Did Driver 1 pay? Was it her fault that this happened, or not? I don’t really want a system where a gig economy worker can wind up working all day for free, with no benefits or paid time off. If this kind of thing happens a lot it also raises the question of how many soggy fries and rancid wings are piling up in their back seats.
Who pays Driver 2? Does he at least get a courtesy $5? I hope he made his quota and that he doesn’t have to go home to 7 roommates empty-handed.
Ultimately this whole experience makes me question my contribution, both negative and positive. Am I an economic parasite? We rarely order in because it’s a hassle to go down five floors and wait for a driver who sometimes has to park a block away. But then aren’t a lot of people depending on these jobs to make ends meet? How else are we going to help?
I dunno. All I know is that there’s a lot of shadow labor being performed here, extra work for almost all parties involved that does not lead to economic credit for any of us.
I’m gonna go donate to my food bank and figure out what to cook tomorrow night.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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