How Does Postmates Work?

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If you don’t yet have a Postmates account you can receive up to $100 in delivery credit using promotion code ZLSHA. Simply enter it after you download the app on your “Account” page, under the “Enter Promo Code” section.

Even though I’m fairly young and work online, I tend to be a pretty late adapter when it comes to new technology. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I’ve just never been very good with tech. But when I catch on to technology I become sort of obsessed.

My latest obsession is on demand food delivery service. Living in hotels, I get sort of tired of the dining options at times:

  • Room service is overpriced and rarely the same quality of food you’d get outside the hotel
  • Some cities are very compact, so it’s easy to leave your hotel and find something great nearby; in more suburban areas or sprawling cities, that’s not quite as easy
  • Sometimes you don’t want to get out of your pajamas and just feel like “eating in,” no matter how great of a food city you’re in

With that in mind, I figured I’d share my food discoveries over the past week:

Recapping UberEATS

Last week I shared my experience using UberEATS, which is essentially Uber’s on-demand food delivery service. I’ve been using Uber for years, though this was my first time using a third party food delivery service.

There are quite a few delivery services out there, so what makes UberEATS different?

  • They have limited hours and only have a handful of things on their menu, and the drivers already have the food in their cars; this means that when you order, the food is delivered in a matter of minutes
  • Other food delivery services let you place a customized order 24/7, and then it takes a reasonable amount of time (30-45 minutes) to get your food, as they order it for you, pick it up, and drop it off at your place
  • The cool thing is that Uber referral credits can be used towards UberEATS; if you’re referred to Uber you get a “free ride,” and that can be applied towards UberEATS, which can get you a free lunch or dinner (or at least close to it)

Lemonade

How did I just discover Postmates?!?

In the last post I mentioned Postmates in passing, though hadn’t actually used it before. I guess the best way to describe Postmates is as the Uber of food delivery (which might sound a bit backwards, since Uber has its own food delivery service!).

Postmates

Postmates is available 24/7/365 in over 100 markets. For example, here are the cities in which they operate in California alone:

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Their app is easy to use. Here’s how Postmates works in general:

Step 1: select which restaurant you want food from

There are tons of of options, as you can have delivery from virtually any restaurant in the city. Restaurants are sorted by location, type of cuisine, etc. Or you can just enter the name in the app. From Nobu to Pinkberry to Starbucks to Chick-Fil-A, they’ll get you just about anything from anywhere. Heck, they’ll even run to the liquor store for you or pick up your dry cleaning.

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For example, last night I was in LA and felt like Thai food. There were several options.

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Step 2: share the specifics of your order

This is where the app is fantastic, as any supported restaurant displays their entire menu through the app, and they really make it easy to customize the order.

For example, I chose to order from Galanga Thai Fusion. Below are the curries I could choose from.

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Then on the next screen I should specify what type of meat I wanted.

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And then on the next screen I could specify what I wanted to do if my exact order wasn’t available.

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So they really do make the process idiot proof. Heck, I usually struggle getting my order right when ordering directly from a restaurant, let alone when a third party is involved. But Postmates makes it easy.

Step 3: confirm your order

In the next step the entire order is summarized, and then an estimate is given about how long it will take, as well as the cost (more on that below).

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Step 4: track your order

So what happens once you place your order?

  • Within seconds you’re connected to a driver who confirms your order, and then through the app you can track their progress as they drive to the restaurant, pick up the order, and drive to you
  • They’ll call or text you as they get near to arrange pick-up details
  • All payment is handled through the app, and there’s a feedback/rating system, so service from drivers tends to be excellent

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Step 5: enjoy the food

Arguably the best step of all. 😉

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How much does Postmates cost?

So what’s the charge for using Postmates? Obviously you’ll pay whatever the normal restaurant prices are, and then Postmates charges the following fees:

  • A delivery fee which varies based on the distance of the restaurant from where you want the delivery to (in general it’s about $5 — last night it was a bit more expensive for me, since the restaurant was a bit further away)
  • 9% service fee
  • You have the option of tipping the driver through the app after the order is complete (the app suggests anywhere from 10-20% as a tip amount)

While that’s not cheap, this really is a value add service, as they’ll literally pick up anything from anywhere for you. Generally speaking I tip when I carry out (I realize servers in the US live on tips, and that includes those working takeout), so to me that’s a cost I pay regardless.

So the additional cost is the delivery fee (usually ~$5) plus a 9% service fee. If you order a $25 meal, that’s ~$7.25.

Under what circumstances is that worthwhile?

  • If you don’t have a car and are in an area without easy public transportation (like LA), that’s much cheaper than taking an Uber to pick up food
  • Unless the restaurant is nearby, realistically you can expect it to take 20-30 minutes to pick up food between driving there, waiting on the order, and bringing it back; if you value your time a reasonable amount, that may be worth the cost of using Postmates

$10 off your first Postmates order

Postmates also has a referral program, which I didn’t realize until after I placed my first order last night. Oops. If you use someone’s referral code to sign up for Postmates, you’ll receive a $100 delivery credit, and the person referring you will receive the same.

My referral code is ZLSHA, so once you download the app, simply click on the “Account” button at the top right, and click “Enter Promo Code.” There you can enter ZLSHA (or any other referral code) to get $100 in delivery credit. This is for new users only, so you’ll want to do this before you place your first order.

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Bottom line

Postmates is a service which can make sense for everyone. But as someone who lives in hotels, this sort of completely replaces the need for room service, in my opinion. Postmates’ delivery fee is in line with (if not lower) than what you’d pay through room service, and you get reasonably priced “good” food, rather than the usual markup charged by hotel restaurants.

Hotel room service has been notoriously unprofitable for as long as I can remember, and now that I use Postmates, they can basically get rid of it as far as I’m concerned.

Have you used Postmates? If so, what was your experience like? Are there any other food delivery services I should know about?

As a reminder, if you don’t yet have a Postmates account you can receive a $100 discount on delivery costs using promotion code ZLSHA. Simply enter it after you download the app on your “Account” page, under the “Enter Promo Code” section.

Comments

  1. Help me out here – how is this different from Seamless Web which has been around in big cities for many, many years?

    Is it that Postmates goes to restaurants that don’t do delivery?

  2. UberEats. Postmates. Instacart. Seamless. GrubHub. FreshDirect. Max Delivery. In NYC, those are the ones just off the top of my head. It’s all pretty great. Though am sure they’re all slammed on a weather day like today.

  3. I’d personally recommend Munchery. Quality chef prepared food with a changing menu available weekdays. They only operate in a few cities as of now but if you’re in LA / SF / NYC I’d certainly suggest you try it out. I’ve been using it since they came to LA earlier this year and haven’t been disappointed.

    Use this link for $10 off first order munchery.com/invite/EGYXK33Y

  4. Postmates works well, but it’s far from perfect. I work in Downtown LA, and once in a while I get a craving for a salad from La Scala (now that you’re going to be here more often–go and get the chopped salad but add oven-dried tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, and cucumber–you’re welcome). It works less well for things like Starbucks where it kind of seems like fewer drivers are willing to make the small, cheap trips. I’ve had to try 4-5 times in a row just to get someone to accept it, and then once they do, they’re like…in Hollywood. If they can figure that out it’ll be much better.

  5. Lots of these places (at least in Dallas) are order-at-the-counter anyway kind of places, so you are paying a big delivery premium. For nice restaurants, maybe not, if you factor in the 20% tip dining out. But, wow, this just seems quite expensive on a daily basis.

  6. It’ll be amazing once you discover Seamless, Grubhub, Delivery.com, Minibar, Caviar, Instacart, and Doordash.

  7. Agreeing with @David above, I am a HUGE fan of Munchery. The food is fantastic.

    My referral link is munchery.com/invite/9E7ZKDAZ

  8. Loving “Favor” which isn’t in as many cities yet, they do feature menu for some places but will go anywhere to pick up anything (that’s legal), Lower % service charge, fixed fee and tipping the same. Great for places that don’t deliver, aren’t linked up with delivery services (like food trucks). Even have them pick up items at the drugstore on the way.

  9. Agree with Gary. Here in Austin, Favor’s the way to go as far as delivering literally anything that’s legal. Postmates has made its way here too and I like their integrated ordering menus which makes for better UI, but really, most of the apps today are all very similar.

  10. I’ve used Postmates in SF when I was not feeling well or working on something and didn’t want to go out. I thought it was worth it. I think it’s great. Some cities it may be better and more worth it than others.

  11. When credit card referrals aren’t netting you enough for food on your table you have to resort to begging others to use your referral code for some random delivery service. LOL

  12. I’m happy with the limited selection of restaurants that offer free delivery.

    I can’t see how the cost of Postmates is palatable to anyone but young Silicon Valley or Wall Street types or trust funded college students.

  13. Postmates is not a food delivery service; it’s a delivery service that happens to deliver—among many, many other things—food.

  14. Delivery fee and service fee and tip ?!? This seems outrageously expensive! In London we have deliveroo offering the same service for a flat £2.50. (You may chose to tip the delivery driver a quid or two as well, I guess, but still)

  15. Sunday during NBA game 7 Postmates wanted to charge me a $22 delivery fee on a $69 order. I told them to cancel my order, which they did.

  16. “I’m happy with the limited selection of restaurants that offer free delivery.

    I can’t see how the cost of Postmates is palatable to anyone but young Silicon Valley or Wall Street types or trust funded college students.”

    Yeah, well, some of us don’t want to only be able to choose from pizza hut, dominos, and papa johns.

  17. Fantastic review! Just the right amount of personal comment & opinion with important information. I just finished using the Postmates app for the first time, and am beyond impressed. Such a fabulous solution to any number of reasons why one would need a delivery service! It did take a little while to arrive, however, I believe it was due to me ordering my “weeks” worth of groceries, instead of one or two things. The delivery charge (would have been without your code, thank you) was very low/ reasonable. Also, when my Postmates could not locate one of the items listed, he immediately called me and had several comparable alternatives ready to go. I live on the very top floor of my building, and carrying grocieres up can sometimes prove to be quite the task. So, for me, this app is absolutely 110% worth it.

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