The car-sharing and grocery delivery gig economy is known for exploiting and abusing workers – and now Motherboard has a glimpse of a particularly bad example. A new piece deals with Shipt, a grocery company owned by Target, and examines any additional workers who feel compelled to just stay active and continue to work on the platform. It is a thorough study of a corporate culture that appears to be based on fear and intimidation.
Employees say that Shipt customers often live in closed and upscale communities, and that the app encourages employees to put gifts like thank you cards, hot cocoa, flowers, and balloons on orders (paid out of their own pocket) and offer customers to go Dogs and take their garbage out of courtesy. Shipt calls this type of service "Bringing the Magic", which can improve customer reviews of customers, which is incorporated into the algorithm that determines who receives the most lucrative orders.
It is therefore not sufficient to deliver the customer's order from Target. If you want to keep getting good reviews and more work, you'll need to take out the trash and walk the dogs. Cool system! The article also describes how Shipt employees are worried that the company will take revenge against them for posting negative comments or asking targeted questions on internal message boards and Facebook groups. One employee described the temporary deactivation after criticizing the company's new logo.
And then there's the problem of payment: Shipt employees told Motherboard that the company recently switched from a simple fee structure per order to a confusing algorithm that … takes into account … a few factors … to determine how they get paid. You will be shocked to hear that the new algorithm does not favor workers; Some report that their pay has dropped 50 percent since Shipt.
This is part of a troubling pattern for gig worker platforms. DoorDash had to deal with complaints and skim over the tips from the drivers. Uber workers went on strike to protest unfair wages, poor working conditions and a lack of transparency on the part of the company. Independent contractors from Amazon have described brutal working conditions, including long shifts without interruption, to meet the needs of Prime shipping orders. And The Verge wrote about the appalling conditions for content moderators on Facebook and the waiver from YouTube moderators, confirming that they are likely to get PTSD from work.
But read this motherboard story about Shipt because it has a lot of great details about how real people are affected when a company treats them like one-way gears in their corporate wheel. And you should be aware when placing an order online – whether at Amazon, Target, or another company – how they treat the people who bring your deliveries.