Hi everyone and welcome to the USA Election Eve Special Edition of Get FIRE’d asap.
I’m sure that many of us are watching this historic (and not in a good way) event unfold before us with bated breath. It’s not long now before the past few months of shit-flinging rhetoric comes to its conclusion and we find out which one of these less-than-upstanding candidates gets to drive one of the most powerful nations on Earth for the next four years. We await the outcome with justifiable trepidation I think.
Actually, you can breathe a sigh of relief. I was just kidding. This article has absolutely nothing to do with the election but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it anyway.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how, since retiring early in March this year, I have already gone through several of the six phases retirement. According to psychologists, virtually everyone goes through these six phases starting from the pre-retirement planning through to developing lifestyle routines that we find comfortable and fulfilling. I reckon I’m at the point where the ‘holiday is over’ feeling has kicked in and lately I’ve been experiencing periods of boredom and searching for things to do that fill my days. I mean, hopefully, I’m going to have a lot more days ahead of me that are going to need filling with something or other so you can understand why this has become a bit of a priority.
So initially, I set to developing an online business selling products that allow you to test people and surfaces for the presence of illegal drugs. You can read about that here in more detail.
Now that this is ticking along, it’s not keeping me occupied enough so I’ve been looking for other ways to stay busy. A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad for a new food delivery service that Uber have recently started in several Australian cities, including here in Brisbane, UberEATS. Now here’s a potential side-hustle opportunity worth investigating.
If you’re not familiar with it, basically, customers order food from restaurants who have signed up with Uber, and in the same way as their taxi service works, an Uber driver/rider is dispatched to pick up the order and deliver it. ‘Partners’, as Uber likes to call them, can deliver by car, motorcycle or bicycle.
So here was an opportunity, I saw, to ride my bike, get fit, and earn some beer money at the same time. Not only that but you can choose when you want to work, although peak times are around the lunch and dinner periods.
Not only that but Uber offers incentives for working the peak times in the form of guaranteed rates and other monetary rewards for making X-number of deliveries in a certain time-frame.
Sound too good to be true? Of course it does! But I signed up and have so far worked three days during the lunchtime rush period.
Here’s how it works….
You sign up to become an Uber ‘Partner’ and after approving you following a criminal history check (cos you wouldn’t want some crook riding off with your burger and fries would you) you collect your insulated backpack, download the app onto your smartphone and you’re off.
Deliveries are sent to your phone and you have 20 seconds or so to accept them. Once accepted, you are given the restaurant name and address and off you go to collect your order.
On arrival, you receive the order, click the box on your screen and you get the customer’s name and address. Note that until this point you have no idea where the order’s destination is so you can’t pick and choose which ones you want to accept.
And that, my friends, is where my first bone of contention lies.
Apparently, according to Uber, bicycles won’t receive jobs where the distance between pickup and delivery exceeds three kilometres. Wrong! Several of mine exceeded the 3’k distance and one other rider I spoke to had a trip that was over 6 kilometres!
Now you would think that these longer distances would be better served by car or motorbike but I suspect that either Uber’s dispatch software doesn’t differentiate between petrol and pedal power, or that they were short of motorised deliverers and resorted to sending a bike rider anyway.
Now not only does this compromise whether the customer gets their food hot and in peak condition but then you have to ride all the way back to the area where the restaurants are. And here’s where my next moan comes in.
Uber offer financial incentives based on how many deliveries you make during certain peak times, however, in my experience you struggle to actually meet the conditions of the incentive due to the time it takes to deliver and then ride back to the areas where you will receive your next order.
The fame, fortune and glory of being an UberEATS rider is starting to wane here, people.
So lets look at the pros and cons of becoming an UberEATS delivery bike rider.
You will get fit, no doubt about it. In the three days I delivered, I rode 44km through city and suburban streets plus my ride to and from the city from home. That’s around 60km total.
You can work whatever hours you like, however peak times are between 11:45am to 2:00pm and 5pm to 8:30pm. You won’t get much work outside of these hours.
Seriously, you take you risk life and limb riding a bicycle on some of Brisbane’s roads. Fortunately, here in Queensland you can ride a bike on the footpath so by using a combination of road and footpath, you can mitigate the danger of being killed or maimed by fast moving traffic to some extent.
As much as Uber’s incentives sound appealing, your chance of meeting the conditions to receive them is entirely out of your hands. If you are not receiving sufficient orders or are being sent miles away to deliver, you will be getting paid the basic rate. I manage to achieve incentive payments for around 5 of the hours worked.
You will not get rich working for Uber. In fact, you will most likely earn significantly less than minimum wage.
I was online and ‘working’ for a total of 12 hours across three days and earned $185.80 which equates to an hourly rate of $15.48. The current adult minimum hourly rate in Australia is $17.70 plus the compulsory employer superannuation contribution of 9.5% of your ordinary earnings.
In Australia, Uber ‘Partners’ are considered to be contractors which means that you have to pay your own tax, there is no Workers Compensation insurance if you are injured on the job, and you don’t receive the aforementioned compulsory superannuation contribution you would get if you were an employee.
So what’s my take on being an Uber ‘Partner’? To be honest, if you need to earn a living, there are far better options than driving/riding for Uber. This is probably why the majority of riders I met were young people from overseas on working holidays and the chance to earn a few dollars without much commitment probably seems appealing.
In conclusion, I think Uber, both taxi and delivery service, is great for customers. Certainly Uber taxis have created much upheaval in the cab industry in most larger cities, with more competitive pricing, polite drivers who know what deodorant is, and vehicles that don’t make you feel like you’re riding in the back of a police car*. For the customer, Uber has been a breath of fresh air.
Unfortunately, as a ‘Partner’ I feel that their payment structure and punitive incentive conditions make Uber somewhat exploitative. Without the hours where I did manage to earn their incentive rates, I would be earning around $10 an hour. And that’s before paying tax of course.
Did I enjoy it? I have to say that I did enjoy whizzing around the city CBD, in and out of traffic, along the footpaths and taking shortcuts through the parks. You have so much more freedom where you choose to ride than in a car or on a motorbike. But I don’t think the benefits of being a delivery rider outweigh the negatives especially when potentially risking your life to do so. So I’m going to call it a day with Uber and I’ll be riding my bike for exercise safely on the bike paths from now on.
What do you think of the affect of the new breed of innovative, disruptive business models, such as Uber, on the establishment? Are they in it for the long haul, or just a quick buck at the expense their ‘Partners’?
Have your first Uber ride on me up to $10. Sign up at Uber and use this code (e48zt) to get $10 off your first trip (and I’ll get a 10-buck ride too). Between you and I, I’d rather be an Uber customer than a ‘Partner’ any day.
PS. This offer is available anywhere in the world but the free ride value may vary from country to country.
* Yes, I am generalising here but I’m sure most of us have at least one ‘bad taxi’ experience to tell.