So my taster session is complete and I’m now a fully certified food/drink deliverer!
The whole process took around four hours in total (advertised as two). It began by being assessed on ability to cycle in London. You essentially cycle to a location with an ‘assessor’ following to determine how safely you can cycle from point-to-point. Another applicant joined as well so the two of us each took a turn in navigating to a specific point. I overheard one applicant being told they failed because they jumped two red lights (and had to book another slot and come back), so the test cycle does seem to fulfil a purpose beyond formality. This is reassuring from a safety point of view, something I talked about here.
The assessor was warm and easy-going, gave my wheels extra air because they weren’t looking great and happily chatted about everything from university, climate change to Polish politics. All the other staff I spoke to seemed nice as well, very relaxed and friendly. It was nice to put something of a face to the company, the ads and interactions with deliverers (from a customer point of view) are a bit remote and disconnected.
After the cycle assessment, it was just paperwork to complete on a laptop. This stage was noticeably slow, there were around 8 of us using a laptop and each at different stages, waiting for emails to be sent to begin, getting stuck, asking questions etc. Probably should have taken around 30 minutes but stretched out to around two hours, with a lot of waiting and trying to kill time. It also seemed a little unstructured, talking to some others, they seemed to be told information that I personally wasn’t and no information on the Facebook community that was touted earlier in the process was given.
During this stage, the contract was presented. The UK Work and Pensions Select Committee has called the contracts ‘gibberish’ and they weren’t exactly easy reading, at least for non-legal persons (like myself). It was also incredibly easy to just not read the document at all. It’s completed on an online program which automatically directs you to the relevant fields (name, address and signature). Whilst this saves time and printing, you essentially add your name and address to the top of the document, click ‘next’ and the program jumps to the bottom for you to sign, missing all the details in the middle. The long waiting meant I wasn’t particularly eager to spend more time reading through legalities that I struggled to fully understand or wouldn’t be able to challenge. The completed contracted was emailed to me in the end so I at least have a copy.
As well as the contract, I had to select what area and time I would work. London is divided into different areas within which you work, roughly around 2.5 km squared in size. I live in a relatively residential area with less restaurants so chose to work in a central London area, somewhere I have experience riding anyway. You also choose how often you want to work and what shifts you want (usually dinner or lunch shifts of around 3 hours). There was freedom to choose where/when to work but it was shaped by a large spreadsheet that shows what everyone else is doing and the demand in that area.
Just a quick note on everyone else applying, there was a definite over-representation of white 20-30 year old males applying. The clear majority of people applying in the time I was there was in this bracket and the few people I spoke to were all university students (like myself). Many seemed to be applying because it was a way to exercise and get fitter whilst being paid. This is essentially my reason for applying, along with a general enjoyment of cycling and an interest in writing a blog about the work. Beyond exercise, low-skill requirements, ‘flexibility’ and the active nature of the job, I’m not sure why else someone might join. As always, any thoughts on extra reasons then do share below.
I’m set to work 6:30-9:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting tomorrow, so expect details of soon, and hopefully some interesting developments and stories!