DoorDash is a service that promises to deliver food from your favorite local restaurants within the hour and with no minimum charge. DoorDash says it offers its service in 18 U.S. cities (and one in Canada), and insists every meal will be hot, fresh, delicious, and delivered with a smile.

What’s the story behind DoorDash local food delivery service?

DoorDash was founded (like many startups) in a dorm room – this one at Stanford in 2013 by Tony Xu. They claim to be on a mission “to empower local economies in a connected world.”

In other words, DoorDash is kind of like Uber for food –DoorDash delivery employees are independent contractors who use their own vehicles and have a smartphone. When your order is placed, a “DoorDasher” (as they are called) working in the area is alerted. They pick up your delivery, drive it to your house, and give you your food. A tip is up to you!

DoorDash currently has DoorDashers in the following cities: San Francisco, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Oakland/East Bay, Los Angeles, LA Valley, Orange County, San Diego, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, and Phoenix. They also have services in Vancouver and promise more cities are coming soon.

How does DoorDash work to deliver food from nearby restaurants?

If you live in one of the above locations, they tout you can order from your favorite restaurants and get it delivered in an average of 45 minutes, although they concede it could be longer depending on conditions, traffic, and time of day. They add you can schedule a delivery up to 4 days in advance.

If you’d like DoorDash to deliver a meal, they tell you to create an account and log in. Then, you simply type in your address and see which of your favorite restaurants you can order from, click on the menu, and select your items. Once you have chosen everything you want, DoorDash instructs you to pay through the app or website with a credit or debit card (they insist your info is secure).

DoorDash lists the following restaurants as being some of the ones they work with: Asian Box, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Curry Up Now, Oren’s Hummus, Lyfe, Steam, The Counter, Spice Kit, LuLu’s, Fuki Sushi, and Tomi. However, DoorDash states not all restaurants are available in all areas, and they encourage merchants in the cities they have bases in to become a partner.

What DoorDash deliveries are available in my area and how much will it cost?

As DoorDash mentions in their FAQ, service and pricing will vary by area and restaurant. They state that some restaurants charge a higher fee for items bought off of DoorDash to pay for this service and some restaurants have simply forget to update menus elsewhere, so it may appear to be more expensive than if you ordered direct.

In addition, DoorDash does charge a $4.99 delivery fee per restaurant you order food from. While they give a promotional $1 delivery fee for the first order in most locations, they state hungry techies in the Silicon Valley are not eligible for this offer.

DoorDash states the best way to check out what it’s going to cost you is to select items to order and then go to the checkout page, where every charge is itemized. You can also add a tip (10-20%) via credit card, or opt to tip in cash upon delivery. They stress that the tip is optional but greatly appreciated by your DoorDasher!

What are DoorDash Reviews from consumers and DoorDashers?

DoorDash does appear to have its strong supporters both within the company and from customers who have used it. Users of the DoorDash app in the iTunes store give it 3.5 stars from 585 ratings – 300 are 5-stars and 209 are 1-star.

A review rated “Most Helpful” gives it 5-stars, saying, amongst other praises, “Nicely done and exceeded expectations.” Others say “Incredibly useful and easy!” and “Amazingly reliable, fast, and tasty.”

However, there are almost as many 1 and 2 star reviews that say things like “worst experience”, “WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE”, and “very disappointing!”

Those that didn’t like the service go on to state that they waited hours for cold food or orders that were wrong or failed show up. These disgruntled people say they often had difficulty getting refunds.

DoorDashers offer a similar mixed bag of experiences. On Glassdoor, an anonymous rating site for employees, it has an average of 3.1 stars. While some drivers say it’s “a great job for extra cash”, others say it’s a “sweat shop” and uses “false advertising” to get people to deliver for them.

The most positive outlook is from drivers in busy areas (like Palo Alto), although many also say the pay is extremely uneven from one day to the next. They add they are not reimbursed for gas or other expenses and asked to be in standby mode for hours until an order comes in (if one comes in at all).

Bottom Line: DoorDasher is a buggy mixed bag delivery service that may not be good for Dashers or customers unless they are rich

DoorDasher is part of the so-called “sharing economy” that offers little benefits for either their workers or the customers that use them. We say this because not only does it appear that they raise the price on nearly every food item you order, but they also charge a $4.99 delivery fee per restaurant. These can quickly add up to a much more expensive breakfast, lunch, or dinner than you thought.

In addition, while the customer thinks they are ordering online from the actual restaurant, in reality you are giving your credit card to DoorDash who then PHONES IN THE ORDER to the restaurant for you.

We found this out from the job description on Glassdoor for Order Placer.

Then, while they advertise “up to $25 per hour” for DoorDashers on the website, the reality appears to be much less for many of their workers. This may explain their poor attitude when delivering your food.

But, if you are a hipster living in Williamsburg or a creative consultant in Silicon Valley who is too busy to order directly from their local restaurant and someone else is footing the lunch bill, by all means give DoorDash a shot – and be sure to generously tip your DoorDasher!

And let us and all our readers know your experience with DoorDash.