When it was reported that Deliveroo’s top-earning rider raked more than $7,000 in March, many reacted in disbelief.
Netizens were quick to point out that it would take a lot of hard work and sweat, working long hours every day, to earn that hefty sum. Being a food delivery rider is not an easy job – they are constantly on the go, even to the extent of eating meals by the roadside, in order to put food on the table.
Many delivery riders have also come out to say that the $7,000 monthly income is not the reality, as they have experienced a drop in earnings – some as high 70 per cent – since the circuit breaker measures kicked in.
Loss of earnings since circuit breaker measures
In July last year, a Deliveroo rider revealed that he earned $4,200 on average in the previous six months by clocking 400 to 500 trips per month, or an average of 13 to 17 trips a day.
Fast forward to April this year, Covid-19 and circuit breaker measures have changed the food delivery landscape completely.
The Straits Times reported a 30 per cent increase in demand for food delivery services as customers are no longer allowed to dine in F&B outlets.
Despite the sector boom, many riders have been hit hard.
With more orders coming in to popular F&B outlets, the waiting time for pick-ups has increased, leading to longer time taken to complete a job and thus slower business for riders.
At the same time, there has been an oversupply of riders as people who have lost jobs are hopping on the food delivery bandwagon. This includes private-hire drivers who have had their commission halved by Grab for the period of the circuit breaker, given slowing demand for rides. GrabFood and Deliveroo have also reported an increase in 80 per cent of weekly applications since March.
In addition, more than 600 local restaurants have banded together to form a movement called #savefnbsg. The group has started an online petition to campaign for delivery apps to charge lower commissions to help F&B outlets tide over the outbreak (most charge a commision of up to 30 per cent).
This has created a lot of stress and uncertainty for delivery riders who are caught in the middle, and worry that their reduced income will be depleted further if food delivery platforms agree to lower commissions.
Tensions have also been running high between riders and F&B service staff due to pressure on both parties to fulfill orders.
On Apr 21, a quarrel between a delivery rider and a bubble tea shop employee at Waterway Point, resulted in the rider getting arrested. The spat was due to Singaporeans rushing to make last-minute bubble tea orders after enhanced circuit breaker measures were announced that day, resulting in long queues and waiting times.
Another dispute got physical between a fast-food restaurant staff and a deliveryman at AMK Hub on Apr 22. In a video, bystanders could be seen attempting to calm both parties down. A man shooting the video, allegedly the deliveryman, has since shared his side of the story.
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Appreciating delivery riders for their hard work
While all this was happening in the malls, many of us are lucky enough to stay home to ride out the circuit breaker period. While many of us are wondering about what to eat for our next meal, these riders worry about whether they can earn enough to feed their families for the next month.
Despite contactless delivery options, riders put themselves at risk of contracting the virus by moving between restaurants and customers every day – rain or shine – to deliver food and other daily essentials to our doorstep.
So beyond just giving them five stars, let’s give them a little extra appreciation and support.
On 17 April, creative agency Kinetic Singapore started a campaign called #ThankYouDeliveryHeroes to encourage locals to show appreciation for delivery riders by putting posters on their doors.
“Delivery may be contactless, but it doesn’t have to be heartless,” goes the tagline.
Designed by local artists, the posters include quotes such as “You make my day bloom even though I’m stuck on Zoom” and “By working hard outside you keep us safe inside”.
Singaporeans are also reaching out on their own to encourage deliverymen. In several instances, customers have ordered meals, not to deliver to their own addresses, but for riders to share among themselves. Many more have left tips for riders – which can be done through the delivery apps – as a small token of appreciation.
From this kind customer who ordered extra nasi goreng for his GrabFood rider and left a $10 tip, to another customer who ordered five bubble tea drinks for riders at Paya Lebar, with a note saying “the weather is very hot these days… Take care and stay safe”, Singaporeans have shown that we do care.
At Chong Pang Hawker Centre in Yishun, a drink stall owner announced in a Facebook post that the stall will provide free grass jelly drinks until 4 May for all delivery riders and drivers in recognition of their front-line efforts, on weekdays until 3pm.
Second-generation owner of the stall Tricia Ng wrote: “I understand all drivers’ income is badly affected and hope our little gesture can help to encourage them.”
Aside from supporting those working to deliver our food, we can also help less popular F&B outlets – Grab has a list of local stalls selling hawker favourites under “Local Heroes”. Not only will you help their business pick up, you will also be able to help riders complete their jobs quicker, and get your food faster!
When we think of front-line heroes in the fight against Covid-19, let’s not forget about what delivery riders do, and share some support and encouragement with them during this trying period.
For all their hard work, the least we can do the next time we order a meal is to give them a big smile and thank them, and leave a tip if you can!