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Order food delivery? Beware of this new price

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The advent of companies like DoorDash and UberEats has revolutionized the way we having dinner. Instead of being limited to a handful of local restaurants for delivery, you can order from just about anywhere in town and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Of course, this convenience comes at a cost. Between the higher prices, additional service charges, and tipping your driver, you’re easily looking at an extra $10-15 per meal. But, you can order food without pants. And it’s priceless.

Unfortunately, this already expensive trouser alternative has recently become even more expensive. The massive increase in gas prices had an unintended impact on delivery services in the form of a new gas surcharge.

Every little bit helps drivers stay on the road

As it stands, gas supplements are pretty modest in the scheme of things. My recent UberEats order only charged $0.45 for their “temporary fuel surcharge”.

According to Uber, my fees were on the high end, with UberEats fees ranging from $0.35 to $0.45. (Uber rides have a slightly higher fee scale, ranging from $0.45 to $0.55 per ride.)

And yes, Uber says 100% of the fees go to the drivers.

As part of all the other fees I’ve paid, the $0.45 is small change – literally. Especially considering that a gallon of gas costs over $5 in most areas.

Looking at the math, a driver getting 25 mpg and paying $5 a gallon would get just over 2.5 miles of gas from the $0.45 surcharge. Ideally, customers who live farther than that from their restaurant of choice help make up the rest.

UberEats is on its own – for now

Several delivery and ride-sharing services, as well as a number of smaller restaurants, introduced these surcharges earlier this year with the idea that it would be a temporary measure. But these temporary solutions are beginning to register a little more long-term.

For example, the UberEats surcharge was originally set to expire on June 15. However, given the continued rise in fuel costs – and the significant pushback from drivers – Uber has just extended the surcharge “indefinitely”.

However, some companies have already let their programs expire. Competitor DoorDash, for example, had a short-lived driver bonus program that ended in April. Instead, it relies on an in-house cashback scheme that has been extended through the end of summer.

Essentially, DoorDash drivers who pay for gas with their DasherDirect prepaid business Visa debit cards are eligible for 10% cash back. While this may be more lucrative for surface drivers — 10% of $5 a gallon is $0.50 back — they lose out on an important bonus: gas rewards.

UberEats drivers can increase their savings by using a fuel rewards credit card to pay for fuel in addition to the surcharge revenue. DoorDash drivers have to use their debit cards, thereby losing their own gas rewards.

More charges may be forthcoming

Unfortunately, gas prices aren’t expected to drop any time soon. The current fuel crisis is a global problem, which will not be solved quickly. In fact, Americans may have it easy compared to many other countries. Drivers in Canada pay close to $7 (USD) per gallon, and petrol in the UK costs over $8 (USD).

If costs continue to rise – or even if they simply maintain their current record high – drivers may be forced to seek other jobs with less expense. This may cause more companies to add fuel surcharges to orders to keep their workforce in place.

Either way, it’s not a bad idea to assess how we as customers tip our drivers. If you’re ordering from a bit further away, consider adding a little extra to your tip.

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