Wednesday, 25 March 2020 13:21

Richmond County Door Dashers see deliveries go up and down amid coronavirus pandemic

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Some Door Dash delivery drivers have seen an increase in business while others' orders have dropped off. Some Door Dash delivery drivers have seen an increase in business while others' orders have dropped off. Matt Harrelson - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — With North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordering restaurants to close up shop inside, some have closed altogether while those that remain open are relegated to drive-thru, curbside pick-up or delivery only.

DoorDash, the online food-delivery service app, has continued to operate with their Dashers still bringing people their orders straight to their front door across America.

Dashers in Richmond County are no different. 

But while most have seen their customer count go up, two local Dashers have actually seen their orders bottom out.

Miranda Sanders, who has been Dashing for seven months, said her orders and customer numbers have gone down tremendously.

"I haven't been getting as many customers or orders as I normally do in our area considering I am one of the top Dashers. Although I would assume it would be busier considering people aren't trying to go out because of this terrible virus," said Sanders. "I've been wearing gloves and a face mask. I've also been asking customers if it will be okay to leave their food at the door so we have no actual face-to-face contact. So far, it's been working fine."

Sanders went on to say she is curious about the COVID-19 virus, and with three children at home, she called it "scary" and said she is using every precaution she can to try and avoid it.

"I do keep my trust in God that he will keep us all safe," she said.

Spencer Martin Jr. a Dasher since September, has also seen his customer numbers go down, however, he contributes it to the ever-increasing unemployment numbers.

"Business has been a bit slower than I thought it might be. There's a lot of sitting, waiting for orders. On the other hand, people are out of work," he said.

Like Sanders, Martin is being careful to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

"My precautions include lots of hand washing. I don't own masks or gloves, but I do have Lysol wipes and Lysol spray for the surfaces I touch," he said. "I am not overly concerned about catching COVID-19. It is something that I will eventually have to deal with, but I'm a bit more concerned about making at least enough money to buy my food and such."

Leaving customers' food at the door is an initiative that DoorDash is implementing, as well as sending out numerous emails and texts to Dashers periodically to keep them abreast of everything happening with COVID-19 and how it will affect Dashers in the immediate future.

"Since news can change by the minute and may vary by location, it's more important than ever to keep an eye on your email inbox and text messages for updates," read one DoorDash email sent to Dashers. "We will also be posting relevant information in the notification center in your Dasher app —  just click the bell icon on your map screen to see important updates."

The food delivery service is also offering financial assistance to those Dashers who have been quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19.

"We recognize it may be difficult right now to get tested to confirm your diagnosis," the email read. "If you have not yet had a doctor's appointment but you have proof of mandated quarantine, you may still submit a case, and our support team will respond with a request for relevant documentation."

One of the ways DoorDash is helping to "flatten the curve," is by offering what they call "No-contact delivery" with all customer orders now being marked "leave at the door" or "no-contact" by default.

"This means you'll receive a text informing you to leave the order at the door followed by specific instructions from your customer," another email said. "Please note, merchants are also updating pickup protocols."

Another way the food-delivery app is attempting to slow down the virus outbreak while still providing their service is by making bottles of hand sanitizer and gloves available to Dashers across the United States.

"We started shipping in the markets where the situation seemed most urgent, and we continue to release supplies in more markets as quickly as we can," DoorDash said in the email. "Watch your inbox for details on how to request supplies, access this special store and reorder soon."

It seems, however, that Sanders and Martin may be in the minority when it comes to Dashers seeing decrease in customer orders.

"Business has picked up quite a bit over the past few weeks, which is understandable given everything that's going on," said Kristina Grant, who has been dashing for a little over a year. "I've not dashed this past week, but even before then I always make sure to take necessary measures to wash my hands before I start, between bathrooms breaks and use sanitizer frequently. I try not to make any hand contact with customers or merchants when picking up or dropping off food deliveries."

Grant said she does worry about contracting the virus, however, she said that if we all work together as a community and follow precautions, we can keep the spread from happening. Grant added that she has taken the past week off from dashing in order to spend extra time with her kids while they're home from school.

Alexia Little, much like Grant, has seen her business almost double since the crisis started. Little, who has been working for DoorDash for nine months, said the app has been very busy for her. Much like every other Dasher, though, she has been taking the necessary steps to make sure she doesn't spread or catch the Coronavirus.

"I'm definitely taking necessary precautions, whether it's stopping to wash my hands between deliveries or using Germ-X (hand sanitizer)," said Little. "I have also done a few deliveries which were contact-free, and I left the food on the porch for the customer to get. I definitely have concerns of catching the virus while dashing because you never know if a customer has it or not, however, I'm very confident that DoorDash is still a very safe and convenient way to get food brought to you versus going out to get it."

Still, others like Denita Barksdale, who has also been dashing for seven months, has completely dropped the side gig due to other circumstances.

"I really haven't had the time to do it because of my current job, and because I work with the general public, I'm being cautious from all sides," said Barksdale.

In the meantime, as long as restaurants continue to operate minimally, but stay open, local Dashers will still be pounding the pavement to bring Richmond County residents the food they request through the app.

For any Dashers, customers or participating restaurants that have questions or concerns, DoorDash recommends calling their support line at 855-973-1040, using the chat feature when on a dash or by filling out the online form on the company's website.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 March 2020 15:00