6 minute read

Do you know your courier?

Do you know what it's like to be a courier? Learn about the highs and lows of the job, from the drivers themselves.

With the dominance of online shopping, couriers have become an integral aspect of our everyday lives- so the Circuit Route Planner team surveyed over 500 delivery drivers about the best and worst aspects of the job to learn what it's like for them.

Key takeaways

  • Forty-two percent of delivery drivers had experienced customers using them for TikTok or other social media trends.
  • Sixty-nine percent of delivery drivers cited accusations of stealing a package.
  • Seventy-eight percent of delivery drivers admitted they judge recipients on what they buy.

The pandemic has brought many changes to the world, but one of the most pronounced is the way people shop. Instead of heading to the store for groceries and sundries, people increasingly turned to delivery to stay safe. The delivery industry experienced immediate growth as a result.

But do you know who your courier is? For a lot of us, that's just another faceless entity we see out of the corner of our eye as we run out to grab a package. But for those of us in the delivery industry, couriers are everything. They're our lifeline to getting goods to our customers quickly and efficiently. That's why it's so important to know who they are and what they do.

We interviewed 564 delivery drivers, including food delivery drivers (69%) and other couriers (31%), to learn a bit more about the unsung heroes who made the pandemic a little more bearable. Here are some of the insights we gleaned. 

Not-so-friendly delivery 

Courier drivers might not interact with their customers often, but that doesn’t mean that there is no etiquette to follow when using their services. From poor tips to loose dogs, our survey revealed the kind of things that drive couriers crazy!

Does your courier hate you?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top reasons couriers disliked clients centered around money. In 2020, U.S. senators asked the FTC to investigate “tip baiting”, a practice where customers change their tip amount after the delivery is complete. 

What do delivery drivers find most annoying?

In 2022, poor tipping remained the most common reason delivery drivers might dislike you, according to 73% of our participants. More specifically, twenty-nine percent of our respondents reported that tip baiting was their greatest annoyance. Proving that the practice remains a problem despite increased attention.

How often do delivery drivers encounter a "Karen" on the job?

Beyond tipping, rude behavior was another regular offense, with 30% of our respondents reporting unfriendliness as a major reason they disliked customers, and 56% encountered a “Karen” at least once a month. Interestingly, though, over-friendly customers were actually more off-putting, according to 34% of our participants. 

Key Takeaway: The top annoyance for delivery drivers is poor tipping. 

Packaged with a side of judgment 

We all know the feeling of ordering something off of a menu and then wondering if our delivery driver is going to judge us for buying such unconventional items. The answer here? "Most likely"! 

Is your courier judging you?

Most of us strive to be less judgmental, but in some cases it can be awfully difficult. 

Seventy-eight percent of our respondents admitted to judging customers based on their orders. Some of the more outrageous items they had delivered included an air-chilled whole rabbit, 20 orders of fries, sexual lubricant, and a 12-foot Christmas tree (in March).

Key Takeaway: Nearly all delivery drivers admitted to judging customers’ purchases.

Common complaints

In addition to the annoyances discussed above, the delivery drivers we surveyed had a few common complaints to make.

Courier complaints

A 2020 article from Mashed discussing the difficulties of pizza delivery drivers found that couriers faced significant safety issues. Our participants reported similar experiences, with 38% having a car accident and 36% being robbed on the job.

The most common complaint, however, was being accused of theft, with over two-thirds of surveyed drivers (69%) saying customers had blamed them for lost packages. 

Another major courier complaint was being forced to participate in social media content. Forty-two percent of respondents said customers used them for TikTok trends, in particular, as well as those on other social media platforms. 

Key Takeaway: Being a courier is not an easy job, and sometimes it can be downright dangerous. 

Acting up on the job 

This article has taken an in-depth look at poor customer behavior, but what about couriers? Turns out, couriers are human too and can err on the job every now and then. 

Questionable couriers

Interacting inappropriately with a customer was one of the most common indiscretions reported by our drivers, with 27% of them admitting to less-than-professional communications and 25% of them admitting to hooking up with someone while on the job.

Perhaps more concerningly, 10% of respondents urinated in bottles while making their rounds, and 9% urinated on or around recipients’ homes.

Intentionally damaging packages, stealing packages, and opening and resealing packages were also reported at 23%, 17%, and 17%, respectively. 

Finally, nearly 80% of food delivery drivers reported eating their deliveries (which some customers may consider a worse behavior than the rest!).

Key Takeaway: Delivery drivers are not all angels on the job, with some admitting to damaging packages and having inappropriate communication with customers.

Worst Days at Work 

Bad days happen, but those can be even worse when you’re out making deliveries. Here we’ve collected a few memorable experiences from drivers on the job. We imagine these couriers would take a “bad day at the office” any day over some of these experiences. 

As this study has shown, delivery drivers experience many kinds of things while doing their duties—from strange deliveries to even stranger customers. While delivery drivers are likely to be good-natured, it’s best to leave them out of your pranks or TikToks. They don’t have to dance for your doorbell if they don’t want to! 

Key Takeaway: Be nice to delivery drivers; you don’t know what may have happened to them at their last stop.

Conclusion

Delivery drivers are the backbone of online ordering. They are the people who make sure your goods arrive on time and without issue. And while they may be invisible to some customers, that doesn't mean they aren't important! Unfortunately, they often face abuse and judgment from recipients. Despite this, delivery drivers remain dedicated to their work.

Treating drivers well is important, and understanding what bothers them is a good step in the right direction. 

Here at Circuit Route Planner, we can help make the delivery process easy. Using our routing app, drivers can optimize their trips to save time and reduce the stress that customers or a particularly bad day may cause. 

Methodology and Limitations

Circuit Route Planner surveyed 564 delivery drivers about their job. Sixty-nine percent were food delivery drivers, and 31% were couriers. Survey data has certain limitations related to self-reporting. These limitations include telescoping, exaggeration, and selective memory.

Fair Use Statement

Did you enjoy reading about couriers in the current climate? Awesome! If you’d like to share our work, go right ahead—just make sure to link back here to give us credit and to use the information noncommercially.

Published21 April 2022
Updated29 April 2022
AuthorHeather Reinblatt
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About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.

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