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Hungry customers take to Twitter over Uber Eats driver protest

Read time 3min 30sec

Frustrated Uber Eats customers took to Twitter to complain about not being able to place their food orders via the app, as hundreds of couriers downed tools today.

An estimated 80% of Uber Eats’ 2 000 partner drivers took to the streets of SA this morning in protest against low wages and what they call “slavery” treatment.

SA’s Tweeps wasted no time to express their anger on the social media platform, with some wondering why their orders were cancelled, while others said they had been unable to place orders altogether due to unavailable couriers in their area.

Radio and television presenter, Anele Mdoda (@Anele) wrote: “Don’t bother with Uber Eats today guys, something about a strike and now the people doing the deliveries don’t even know where the restaurants are. We ordered at 7:30am we are still waiting for toast. Yeah throw the mobile app away.”

A few minutes later, Mdoda shares a screen shot of her order being subsequently cancelled by Uber Eats.

Replying to Mdoda,@Tshiketani_ commented: "No wonder, been seeing weird updates of no deliveries. Needed a quick breakfast to take meds.”

An angry @Khumbu__Bonani said: "Uber Eats is on strike now I gotta get my lazy a$$ up for the wings I'm craving.”

@Seshen6 joined the conversion, commenting: “@UberEats is the worst food delivery app ever and expensive also. My go to food delivery app is @mrdfood.”

Duane Bernard, delivery driver and spokesperson for Uber Driver Partners SA, which represents Uber delivery drivers, confirmed to ITWeb that the protest is underway.

“Almost 80% of drivers are protesting. The couriers in Gauteng have really all come together to protest and customers in the province are not able to order. Other provinces like Western Cape and Eastern Cape are slowly gaining ground too. The rest of the provinces still have minimal services available,” says Bernard.

The threat to shut down all Uber Eats courier services today comes after the Uber-owned food delivery and freight service in December introduced discounted rates for customers.

The new promotion, according to the drivers, resulted in them taking home significantly reduced earnings – up to 30% less than what they were earning prior to the introduction of the promotion.

The Uber Eats food delivery and freight services drivers are currently being paid R10 per delivery, plus R4 per 1.6km. They are demanding R20 for the first 2km, plus R6 after that.

ITWeb’s attempt to place an order via the Uber Eats app was met with a “no couriers available nearby” notification.

Images sent to ITWeb show a group of couriers parked on the side of the road outside some restaurants in Johannesburg.

“We have been forced to protest today because we know that the only way Uber Eats will hear our cries if they lose money today. We know that they will lose millions of rands and they cannot take advantage of us anymore. The strike is clearly a success and we pray that they will negotiate with us and increase our rates,” adds Bernard.

An Uber Eats spokesperson told ITWeb yesterday that SA has seen a number of challenges in the last year and, based on its data, consumers are more price-sensitive than ever before – this led to the introduction of reduced delivery fees, designed to help delivery-drivers by boosting user demand.

“We are aware of a group of couriers who have gone offline today in Johannesburg and Pretoria. We respect drivers who deliver on the app as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want them to feel they can talk to us at any time. However, based on multiple roundtables we recently hosted, we are aware that not all partners are in support of this and will continue operating as normal.”

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