I ordered a pizza via the Postmates app a week or two ago.
The next time I opened the Postmates app, there was a “nag” screen there, requesting demanding that I tip my driver for the delivery.
I say demand because there was no way to get off of this nag screen. The tip request would not go away unless/until I chose a tip amount to give to my driver. There wasn’t an option for no tip/no thank you.
I tweeted Postmates about this. They replied that I could simply enter $0 as the tip, and the screen would go away.
I pushed Postmates on their answer.
I told them the screen should clearly communicate that a user can decline to leave any tip — not to enter $0, to simply not enter anything. The nag screen on the Postmates app clearly communicates that a tip is expected, not that it is optional (which it is). I told @Postmates_Help that it should be more clear that the user doesn’t have to enter anything at all, which is the right of the user.
Postmates responded how you’d expect them to. Thanks for the suggestion, we’ll forward this to the appropriate parties, etc.
[Why I didn’t want to leave a tip is immaterial to this post, as you’ll soon see, so I won’t get into that.]
The following day, I had a Twitter @ reply from @CatalinaAnn94, a Postmates driver who’d seen my exchange with the company.
We can’t see if you enter $0. But tip your damn drivers we make $4 a delivery.
And user @tiffnygrcia added her two cents:
YES!!! If you can’t tip $2 to the person picking up your food and bringing it to your face, don’t order food SMHHH
Thankful for Twitter’s relatively new 240 character limit, I replied.
1) what u make as employee/contractor is not responsibility of customer. You chose your role.
2) not all deliveries / drivers are created equally; you know this.
3) this mentality of thinking it’s owed to you is the problem in itself
This reply is the point of this post.
The Market Pays Plenty — Just No To You
Personal development legend Jim Rohn has an audio recording (they’re available for listening on any streaming service, just look up the name) where he tells the story of meeting his personal mentor Earl Shoaff, the man who taught Rohn all the pithy sayings Rohn himself became famous for.
As Rohn tells it, In one of their early meetings, Rohn complained to his mentor Shoaff about the meager wages Rohn was receiving at his job. Similar to Ms. Catalina above, Rohn didn’t think it was his fault that his wages were low. Showing his paycheck as proof, Rohn told Schoaff,
This company doesn’t pay!
Mr. Schoaff, however, was unmoved by Rohn’s plea and posed a question in response.
Doesn’t the company pay other people two or even three times this amount?
Well, then you’ve identified the wrong problem. The company does, indeed, “pay.” They just don’t pay YOU.
This amount on your paycheck, Schoaff continued, that’s just all YOU get.
The Twitter Postmates driver’s given reason for calling me out re avoid tipping was the meager $4 she makes per delivery.
When I order from Postmates, I order a pizza for $15 plus a $5 delivery fee. So I owe $20. If I want a pizza delivered to me, that’s the deal. How much the order taker, cook, and delivery driver get paid isn’t my business (we’ll get to the tipping thing in a moment).
If you happen to be that order taker, cook or driver, and you aren’t feeling the numbers on your direct deposits, you do have options (though you may have hypnotized yourself into believing that you don’t).
- Complain about how little you’re paid to the people who you assume must have money to donate to your cause, and lightweight shame them about the fact that you make so little (as Catalina attempted via her tweet to me). This is a form of protesting. Protesting was the thing to do 60 years ago, when people didn’t have the tools of self-empowerment that are now at the fingertips of every person who can read this article (and have the luxury of time to jump into Twitter conversations that did not involve them with criticisms). The era for protest is over. These days, it’s action time.
- Increase your value in the marketplace. Just like Earl Shoaff told Jim Rohn, there people working at the same company as you making two, three, even TEN times what you’re making — and why? Their perceived value is higher than yours. And while perception is ultimately the choice of the person doing the perceiving, you always have the power of Step 1: altering your own self-perception.
If you’re not making what you want to be making financially, don’t get mad at the customers who are paying the listed prices, or the bosses who’re paying you the salary you’ve agreed to be paid.
Let’s talk increasing your value.
I told you in episode #915 that there are only three ways to make money in life: Acceptance, Negotiation, and by Demand.
What You Accept
“Welcome to Pizza Hut.”
The manager Brett shook my hand. I was 15 years old and had just been hired for my first job. I was ecstatic; my parents had been pushing me to start working and earning my own money, and now I was in the game. I didn’t even know how much I was being paid yet; I was just happy to be hired.
Brett later told me my hourly pay would be $5.15 an hour.
Fine, I thought. I would have taken any amount just to have a job.
I accepted it.
I had no negotiating power with Pizza Hut; if I’d turned down the job, asked for double the salary, or had never applied in the first place, Pizza Hut would not have ceased operating. They would’ve found someone else to take phone-in orders and cash out dine-in customers for $5.15/hour.
I had no leverage because I was easily replaceable.
The Postmates drivers who bitched to me on Twitter are fungible pieces in the Postmates business matrix. If either of them quit Postmates today, it wouldn’t matter. No one will notice. New drivers will do those same delivers. I could be a Postmates driver today if I wanted to be.
It doesn’t matter who does the deliveries, because someone will do it.
Replaceable people have to either accept what they’re offered, or be replaced by someone who will accept it. In a business sense, you’re nameless and faceless. Anyone can do your job. Thus, your value is relatively low.
Those who are replaceable — people who have to accept what they’re given in life — live at the bottom of life’s pyramid. Most people — the masses — spend their entire lives here, leveraged by people at the two levels I haven’t yet gotten to.
You know the saying, “build your dream, or be employed to help someone else build theirs”? That saying was said for the people at the Accept level.
You don’t want to be here. In anything.
What You Negotiate
A few years after Pizza Hut, I worked a summer job at Rita’s Water Ice.
If you don’t know what water ice is, just think of some lesser treat — like ice cream, or gelato — and multiply the tasting experience by 1,000. Then you have Water Ice.
Anyway, I loved working at Rita’s. The job was simple, based on speed and efficiency of doing the same things over and over again. I was always available to be called in for extra shifts when needed during the busy Philly summer. I was only 16 and consistently logging 35 hour workweeks.
After a few months of work, I had proven myself enough that I felt I was worth a raise. I went to my manager Cassandra and we had a constructive conversation about my wants. I knew I was one of the two or three best workers she had; she knew it too.
They gave me a fifteen cent raise.
I went to Cassandra and told her I wanted more than that. They increased my hourly pay by another twenty-five cents.
It was my first successful negotiation. Two at the same time, in fact.
When your value is proven, and there would be some difficulty in replacing you, you’re in a position to negotiate.
You may not get everything you want in negotiation, but the other side will at least be willing to communicate and work with you, and for one reason: it’s easier to have or keep you than it would be to lose and replace you.
I didn’t work at Rita’s Water Ice again after the summer of 1998, but I visit the store every time I’m back in Philly. Surprisingly, they’ve found more workers to do my old job. My departure did not torpedo their business. That summer when I asked for my raise, they could have held a hard stance, driven me out, and replaced me. But it was a smarter business move to pay me an extra 40 cents an hour — $14 a week — than to not have my production and hope to find someone who could replicate my production.
To Rita’s, I was not impossible to replace, but not quite so easy to replace, either. So I had space to negotiate.
Those who live at the negotiation level have to make sacrifices, in one of two ways.
- Giving up some of what you want, since you could be replaced (not easily, but still) if you refuse to compromise on some level.
- Passing on some or even many of the opportunities presented to you, because you’re aiming to leave the Negotiate level and get to the third, ultimate level of money earning. (<—- if you’re a Negotiator, HERE is where you want to be, angling to graduate out of it)
Everyone exists at the Accept and Negotiate levels at some point in life. 99% of people come into the game at this level and never leave.
A self-selected few (meaning, it’s a choice) ascend to level three…
What You Demand
I received an email from a woman a month ago via the Keynote Speaking page on my website.
The woman boss had seen me speak at a conference a year ago, and he wanted me to present at his company’s event.
How much do I charge?
I named my price. They paid it.
No negotiation. No, that’s out of our budget. No, we’re a small company, so… No, most of our speakers are volunteers (I’ve heard all of the above, and more, as a speaker).
This is the Demand level. Where you say, for me to do this, THIS is what it will cost you — and people accept it, willingly paying it (see how the script flips?).
There are some things you must know about the Demand level of money earning.
You Get Here Only By CHOICE.
You will never have the Demand level bestowed upon you.
Being in Demand a choice that you make.
This is not to say that just because you decide it and think it and write it down, that it’s gonna happen.
The decision becomes real when your actions make it real.
It means you stop accepting just anything that is handed to you.
You disassociate from the Negotiations people have come to know you for.
It means that when someone asks you what your price is, you tell them the fucking price that you really want, not the price you think they’ll say yes to.
You set your price high, and every time you prove yourself, you raise that price — your value has increased.
And it means you have to be damn good at what you do (more on this later).
You Will Have To Say NO A Lot.
Which requires you to have the courage to know that a(nother) YES opportunity is coming. In other words, you have the courage to say NO to a $5,000 offer because you know a $20,000 offer is coming — even though you haven’t had a $20,000 offer in 3 months (yes, there are nuances to this, such as having other streams of income; the idea is what I’m communicating).
Most people cannot reconcile this mentally, and thus live out their salvation at the level of Acceptance and Negotiation.
You become your associations.
If you plan to be a Demander, but are continually accepting Negotiations, you’re a Negotiator. Period. Being a Demand-level person is 98% mindset and 2% skill.
You Better Be As Good As Your Price.
A photographer once gave me some great advice.
He said, for anyone to make demands, he/she must be IN demand.
If you want to hire Beyoncé to sing at your wedding, Beyoncé is setting the parameters.
Here’s my availability, here’s how many hours I can be there, here’s the stage setup I’ll need, here’s the kind of mics you’ll have to hook up, this is the food my backup singers and I want, and here’s the price. Those are my terms. I’ll need your answer by the close of business today, because someone else will book that date if you don’t.
And you, bride- or groom-to-be, will bend over backwards to make to happen.
Because she’s Beyoncé. And Beyoncé is in demand.
Ideally, you will be better than your price — because people have emotional attachments to money (even money that isn’t theirs), and people talk. If you Demand a price and you suck, word gets around and you may find yourself back at a Negotiator.
Gratuity: If You Can’t Tip, Don’t Order…???
My lady Anna worked many years in foodservice. She’s told me that some waitresses she had once hired would complain about or refuse to serve certain diners because the patrons had previously not tipped, or looked like non-tippers.
I get it. I worked as a server at my first job for Pizza Hut and at a restaurant called Friendly’s. And I hated when a table didn’t tip or left a small amount, despite the food being on time, prepared properly, and my service being great.
But I couldn’t be mad at the customers, for two reasons.
- They hadn’t forced me to take the job as a waiter, where the customer controls the tipping.
- A tip is also known as a gratuity. Gratuity comes from the world gratuitous, which means uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted, or given or done free of charge. In other words, a gratuity is not owed to you, regardless of the quality of your service.
Business in some locales, especially in tourist-heavy locations like Vegas, Manhattan and where I live in Miami, have begun automatically adding gratuity to a customer’s bill. Apparently, the only people who are fans of this practice are the servers and managers at the restaurants.
There’s fine print informing you that you can remove the auto-gratuity by request. I’ve made this request a few times at different places. Every time, I’ve had my table approached by a manager who’ve asked me to explain my reasoning for doing so, as if I’m somehow writing for not wanting to pay them a gratuity.
Establishments make removing gratuity cumbersome — you have to ask for it — and some employees will try to shame you for even asking. I went to a bar area at a South Beach hotel once and order a jumbo soft pretzel, listed at $10. When about to hand the bartender my card, the bartender said the price was $13, reflecting the bar’s $3 service charge.
What service? I wasn’t even seated at a table. Regardless the technicalities, I am not obligated to play you a gratuity— gratuity is extra.
The manager came out and actually debated with me about my money. I didn’t pay the service charge, but dammit if the manger didn’t fight hard for that $3.
That South Beach bar went out of business shortly thereafter.
Here is where the service workers reading this argue that this is the culture; it’s customary for people to tip when they receive a service. And I’ll make clear here that I do tip, and generously — to barbers, deliveries, wait staff, valet workers — but if you try to impose a tip on me, as if it’s owed you, I’m not paying it.
Call it perversity. Call it ego. Take it out of context and rail against it on Twitter if you wish.
Gratuity is a privilege, not a right.
If you work in service and don’t know this, this would explain why you’re earning the amount that you earn.
The best service people I’ve had the pleasure to be served by work as if they understand that their tip, if there even is a tip, is earned by going above and beyond the basics of their job descriptions. They work in the spirit of hospitality, which is a quantitative leap above merely performing a service.
For performing services, you receive a salary. For hospitality, you gratuity, the extra.
If you work in service and don’t know this, this would explain why you’re earning the amount that you earn.
“I Work In Service. Tip Me!!!”
I played professional basketball for 9 years. Naturally, I receive emails and DMs from players and their parents regarding various playing issues, one of them being playing time for players.
A parent of a player (I don’t know the age) once commented on one of my YouTube videos that every player on a team should receive equal playing time, and all get the ball the same amount, so they all get a chance.
While the good book states that all men are created equal, and I agree, all men do not remain equal. This change, from equality to hierarchy, happens via the decisions each of us make. One such decision is our choice of whether to be an Acceptor, Negotiator or Demander in life.
You are not owed anything by way of merely existing. Being on the team doesn’t mean you deserve to play. Being in the game doesn’t mean you deserve to get the ball. Having the ball doesn’t mean you’re allowed to shoot it. Those rights are earned.
Your parents owe you food, clothing and shelter; anything else you get is gratuitous. Some of us are lucky and get a lot more than that; some get the bare necessities and nothing more. There are numerous winners and losers walking this earth who’ve come from both categories.
The mindset that leads people to say stupid shit like, “if you can’t tip your driver $2 then don’t order food SMH” is a mentality of entitlement — and the exact reason why you’re utilizing your social media account to complain about $2-4. Get some bigger problems to address — something you can’t do while still accepting that an hour of your time is worth $4.
What If I’m Better Than My Job?
We’ll call this the state of being underemployed: you have a gig (or multiple gigs), but feel that either —
- The value you deliver, or
- The value you have, but can’t deliver in your current circumstances
— doesn’t deliver the ROI you want.
As always, you have options.
- Raise your prices. Ask for more. You just might get it, like I did at Rita’s Water Ice. I didn’t get any better after my hourly pay raise; I just kept doing what I’d already been doing — and felt I was being underpaid for. To raise your price is simple: explicitly ask for more.
- Leave your current situation and offer the exact same value somewhere else, where your skills are valued more highly.
- Work On Your Game. In other words, step your skills (of doing the job, of selling yourself, of delivering to the right people who will value your work) up and raise your prices to be consummate with your raised value.
Underemployment is the basketball player who tells me that he should be playing more in his team’s games, yet during every game he’s sitting on the bench.
What I tell that player: if you truly believe you’re that good, but the coach is just not seeing it, leave that team and go prove your worth someplace else.
If you’re not willing or able to do that, shut up and get comfortable on that bench.
This article was not written to bash people who work these service jobs such as Postmates, Uber, or waiting tables. It’s a wake up call to inform you — or hopefully, remind you — that value is something created by people just like you, not something that’s given to you.
If you feel you’re receiving less than full value at your current job(s), you have options.
- Accept it as your reality and STFU
- Negotiate for more
- Demand more, either at your current location or by taking your talents somewhere else
Whatever you do, don’t bitch or complain about your position as if someone forced you into it. You (consciously or unconsciously) accepted it; now you are empowered to change it.
Earn your gratuity.