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Friday, September 18, 2015

Postmates Couriers Make Less Than Half the Advertised $25 Per Hour Wage

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 4:08 PM

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If you've ever considered working as a delivery driver or bike courier for Postmates, the on-demand delivery service that started in San Francisco and, as of yesterday, has expanded to 40 major metropolitan markets, you were probably tempted by their job listings boasting of earnings "up to $25+/hour." 

Postmates, which has raised a total of $58 million in venture capital, plasters that $25+/hour figure everywhere. (UPDATE: a Postmates social media staffer points out that the company has actually raised $138 million in venture capital.) Here's the Postmates job application website:

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And here's a current look at Craigslist ads for couriers in the San Francisco Bay Area:

click to enlarge postmates_craigslist3.png

If you open one of those Craigslist job postings, you'll find more graphics with the "up to $25/hour" promises, plus this fine print, promising that, "Wages quoted are based on actual current courier earnings in each city." 

click to enlarge postmates_craigslist2.png

That sounds great, and as SF Weekly reported in April, the promise of $25/hour has been a major factor in many workers deciding to sign on with the startup. Except, according to recent court filings, the actual average wage for a Postmates courier is $9.23/hour. 

Postmates is currently defending itself in a class action lawsuit brought by Shannon Liss-Riordan (the same attorney who is challenging the independent contractor classification of workers for Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand companies). A series of documents filed by Postmates in late August reveal some of the inner workings of the company, including their own data on how much couriers work and earn. In a declaration by Kristin Schaefer, Postmates Vice President of Growth and Strategy, the VP reveals the average wage that Postmates pays out. 

click to enlarge postmates_lawsuit.png

In the declaration, Schaefer explains that these figures were determined based on the company's 2015 data. 

Schaefer and Postmates' attorneys note that $9.23 is well above the federal minimum wage (although the couriers are paid per delivery, not hourly, and are not subject to the minimum wage). That may be true, but $9.23 is well below San Francisco's minimum wage of $12.25 per hour. It's also well below the flashy promises of $25+/hour or $1000+/week that the company makes in all its job ads. $15.77 per hour below that, to be precise. 

We'll let you know if we see any new ads on Craigslist promising super fun flexible jobs at $369.20/week. 

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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