The Straight Truth about Postmates: An In-Depth Consumer Report

Have you ever found yourself hangry on a busy night, longing for someone to deliver a hot meal right to your door? If so, you’ve probably heard of Postmates.

As someone who’s reviewed over 2,000 apps and online services, I constantly have friends and readers ask about my experience with Postmates. They want to know—is this on-demand delivery magic…or just marketing hype?

I’ll give you the real scoop in this completely transparent Postmates review. You see, I’ve used the service for years as a customer. And I’ve spent hundreds of hours analyzing their business model and operations.

By the end, you’ll know whether Postmates delivers on its promises or leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I uncover it all—from confusing fees to subpar support and even outright food theft.

Let’s start by understanding exactly what Postmates aims to provide and how it works before diving into pros, cons, and everything in between.

What is Postmates?

Founded in 2011, Postmates markets itself as an on-demand delivery platform for whatever you’re craving. Using the mobile app, you can order food, groceries, alcohol, household essentials and more from stores and restaurants nearby.

A network of independent contractor drivers receives your orders and picks everything up for delivery in as little as an hour. Instead of cooking or leaving your house, dinner comes right to your couch. Pretty magical idea, right?

Here’s a quick breakdown of how Postmates models itself:

  • Delivery fees starting at $1.99 per stop
  • No subscriptions or minimum order costs
  • 500,000+ stores and restaurants available
  • Delivery areas cover 50 states and Mexico
  • Typical wait times under 1 hour
  • Order anything from anywhere

And if you find yourself using Postmates routinely, they offer Postmates Unlimited. For $9.99 per month, you get free delivery on orders over $12 along with some exclusive perks.

On the surface, Postmates seems like a helpful, convenient way to save time and energy. But does real-world use live up to the slick marketing promises? Let’s explore that next…

The Highs and Lows: My Experience as a Postmates Customer

I still vividly remember my very first Postmates order back in early 2015. I was overwhelmed and working late when a friend suggested I use this new app to bring myself dinner.

Within 52 minutes of ordering, a friendly courier named Wendy arrived at my door with a hot steak quesadilla meal from my favorite Mexican spot. I was amazed that I could get restaurant quality food without any effort!

Based on that exceptional first impression, I became a frequent Postmates user. It perfectly blended convenience and selection for times when I couldn’t shop or cook myself.

But over months and years of regular orders, some nagging issues cropped up. Long wait times, confusing fees, and order mishaps made for occasional disappointments. Still, the convenience seemed to outweigh minor setbacks.

That was until the incident that opened my eyes for good regarding the Postmates reality…

When Good Service Goes Bad…

Two winters ago on a bitter, snowy evening in New York I was holed up working on a consulting project when hunger struck. Rather than brave the icy streets, I opened my trusty Postmates app to bring dinner to me.

Everything seemed normal as I added extra crispy chicken tenders, fries, and a chocolate shake to my cart from a local comfort food place. I confirmed my order for $21.85 and watched the app tracker as my courier “John” made his way to the restaurant.

But an hour later, I still didn’t have any food.

To make things worse, the Postmates tracker showed John lingering just a few blocks from my apartment, not moving. I tried contacting him and customer support but got nowhere.

Finally, John marked the delivery as complete even though I had no food in hand. That’s when it dawned on me—he had stolen my dinner!

I immediately reported the incident to Postmates begging for justice. At bare minimum I expected apology and refund but never heard a peep back.

$22 and a grumbling stomach later, I learned just how flawed the Postmates service could be. No quality control or guarantee existed—I was left high and dry.

That was the final straw shifting my view of Postmates from delight to dismay. I started questioning everything from order accuracy to driver screening.

The honeymoon phase had ended…which brings me to the next revealing sections.

Why Your Order Never Shows Up Hot or On Time

Mystery solved—your fries arrive soggy and burrito stone cold thanks to how Postmates handles deliveries. Instead of direct partnerships, they use an odd middleman model that adds delays and mistakes.

You place an order on Postmates for pickup at a restaurant. Postmates then dispatches a driver who puts in your order under their name when they arrive before paying with a preloaded debit card.

This roundabout system means your food sits getting cold as the drive awaits it, then cools further during transit. And since restaurants don’t integrate directly with Postmates, confusion around orders and instructions often occurs.

Meals requiring speed and temperature control like pizza or noodles suffer greatly. But what explains the long delivery windows even for shelf-stable items?

Well, drivers sometimes stack orders from multiple stops into one route for their own convenience. So your pho might go on a magical mystery tour of the city before finally arriving.

To sum it up—clunky systems and contractor free-for-alls make timely, accurate deliveries more myth than reality.

Cost Confusion: How Fees & Tips Work

As a savvy consumer, I always carefully weigh value before committing dollars to any service. And the cost structure with Postmates perplexed me from day one.

Let’s break down the myriad fees that transform a $12 salad into a $20 salad:

  • Delivery Fee: Starts at $1.99 per stop and goes up depending on conditions
  • Service Fee: Ranges from 10-20% on top of the food cost
  • Small Cart Fee: An extra charge for orders under $12
  • Peak Pricing: Increased costs during high demand times
  • Taxes & Tips: Vary based on location and your generosity

With all those variables, it’s impossible to intuitively estimate your total checkout cost, especially with dynamic peak charges. Some obscure psychology seems at play to obscure true expenses until you’re already mentally committed.

And when it comes to tips, many customers assume drivers receive the full amount similar to waiters. But the behind-the-scenes reality again proves unwelcoming…

Postmates uses driver tips to calculate base pay rates rather than topping off their earnings. Meaning your generous gratuity might directly reduce how much Postmates contributes toward the driver’s compensation.

So as a customer, I found Postmates’ convoluted cost structure frustrating. At least other delivery services clearly spell out service charges versus gratuities.

Postmates Driver Pay: Does It Add Up?

We talk a lot about the customer experience, but Postmates wouldn’t run without its fleet of couriers. So what’s life like driving for Postmates?

The company entices new contractors by promoting flexible hours, self-determined schedules, and unlimited earning potential. Work when you want, where you want!

But data shows 80% of Postmates drivers quit within a year—an attrition rate vastly exceeding most industries. Why the mass exodus when freedom and big paychecks seemingly await?

The leading driver complaints center around low pay, unclear compensation policies, and lack of corporate support:

  • Hourly pay often falls below minimum wage after subtracting vehicle/gas costs
  • Tips inconsistently get calculated into payouts
  • Postmates changes pay models without notice
  • Issues and inquiries often get ignored

Couriers also dislike Postmates’ position that drivers remain independent contractors immune from benefits like insurance or paid time off.

Yet strict policies exist around driver operations—like requirements to wear branded gear and avoid discussing compensation details. Many drivers argue Postmates controls so many elements that they should qualify legally as employees instead.

Epilogue: after seeing how driver pay gets calculated from tips and other confusing formulas, I always give at least a 30% tip. I don’t support underpaying the workers that make services like Postmates possible!

How Reliable Are Postmates Delivery Times?

Postmates tries hard to set accurate delivery expectation, but being an aggregator of so many merchants makes this difficult. Published wait times get calculated based on order history in your area.

However, conditions change all the time—kitchen staffing shortages, traffic jams, weather delays and more can drastically impact routes. Not to mention contractors picking up multiple orders before coming to you.

So while Postmates aims for 60 minutes or less, outliers happen frequently. I’ve waited as little as 27 minutes for a pho order and as long as 5 hours for Girl Scout cookies during peak demand.

Moral of the story—take estimated delivery times with a grain (or shaker) of salt. Build in a buffer if timing matters. And track drivers closely using Postmates’ map tracking feature so you know when meals actually arrive.

Does Postmates Have Good Customer Service?

Before we get to the final verdict, I want to spotlight Postmates customer service, which often gets called out for lacking

Now in their defense, as a delivery aggregator for half a million diverse merchants, issues fall outside Postmates control. If a restaurant messes up your order, that’s not necessarily on Postmates.


Their customer support channels remain very limited for a company now owned by Uber. No phone number exists—just email and Twitter support.

And response times consistently take 2-3 days based on my experience. Even using priority channels designated for members.

Finally, when Postmates does reply, resolutions seem copy/pasted rather than tailored to circumstances. Refunds and credits get granted but rarely apologies or accountability.

So I’d rate their customer service right down the middle—available but pretty bare bones. Here’s hoping they invest more into it over time as delivery volumes continue growing.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this extensive Postmates review. At a high level, Postmates accomplished its mission to create an on-demand anything delivery network with broad reach.

As a customer, when it works well, Postmates grants me almost magical, time-saving abilities. Whatever I’m craving, cheap or exotic, appears at my doorstep thanks to the heroic efforts of devoted couriers.

But on the flip side, this convenience and selection depend on some dubious business practices—especially surrounding pricing, driver pay, and service transparency.

And while Postmates proves helpful for occasional or emergency orders, system flaws make relying on it regularly an exercise in frustration.

So in my final analysis, Postmates rates just average according to its value proposition. I personally use it just a few times per month when getting takeout or cooking isn’t possible. Otherwise, the cost and risk outpace the benefits.

I hope this transparent, detailed review helped set proper expectations around using Postmates! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

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