Photo: master1305 (iStock)

As dependent as we’ve collectively become on food delivery apps like Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and other competitors, a great deal of curiosity still exists about the habits of people either using or working for them. From tipping discrepancies to weird courier tendencies, it’s hard to gauge exactly how well (or badly) we’re making use of these services.

A new study courtesy of U.S. Foods looks to shed a bit more light on consumer habits, through a survey of 1,518 adult app users (ages 18-77) and 497 delivery drivers/riders (ages 21-63). In addition to a few interesting pieces of general data, such as Uber Eats being the most popular delivery app among those surveyed, the study also offers a closer look at some of the more disputed aspects of app-driven delivery.

For customers, the priority is food quality. 17% of respondents reported that they were “consistently irritated” with food not arriving warm (the top response) and 16% were upset about food arriving late. For drivers, a full 60% chose weak or missing tips as a top concern, and another 52% railed against “food not ready on time at restaurant.”

Speaking anecdotally as an occasional Uber Eats/Postmates courier: That latter one is a legitimate problem, although it’s improving as restaurants become accustomed to dealing with apps. Until you’ve sat in a Buffalo Wild Wings for over an hour because the restaurant forgot about you, it’s hard to appreciate how frustrating it can get.

Advertisement

But perhaps the most disarming revelation comes from a section on bad delivery service. You might wish to move on to the next paragraph at this time, if you’re already the paranoid type about this sort of thing: 28% of drivers admit to eating from an order before dropping it off, and 54% are tempted by the smell. (Don’t condemn us for the latter; you try and resist the scent of someone else’s dinner.) Strangely, 29% of customers have also had a driver refuse to bring the food to their door, which is pretty much the entire purpose of these services.

As far as tipping is concerned, 95% of respondents claimed to tip regularly, a fact that a strong majority of couriers would dispute (myself included). Meanwhile, 66% also said that delivery and service fees affect their tips, likely meaning that many customers assume a delivery fee is the same as a tip. Considering all the other difficulties of the trade, and some of the findings of U.S. Foods’ study, a decent tip is the least we can all do.

Advertisement