The Trials And Tribulations Of Ordering Postmates At Columbia

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Living in the City That Never Sleeps is supposed to mean that everything is open 24/7. It’s supposed to mean that if you want a burger and fries at 2 am, you should be able to get it delivered, no problems. Bwogger Sarah Harty reminds us that there are entities out there that ruin those perfect plans: in this case Postmates and Columbia conspiring against our late-night cravings.

Picture this: It’s the early hours of the morning, it’s freezing outside, and every dining option except for JJ’s (or including, if you go to Barnard) is closed for the night. You haven’t eaten since dinner – or maybe a late lunch – and the pile of work in front of you is just getting bigger, and your stomach is only getting louder. Whether you’re holed up in your dorm or kicking it in Butler, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel: Postmates.

An all-too-often occurrence.

Even though perennial Postmates favorites such as Shake Shack and Chipotle close before midnight, there’s still a surprising amount of restaurants willing to deliver until 2 or 3 am. So you make your order – let’s say a burger and fries from Johnny Rockets in Midtown. It’s quickly accepted, your estimated delivery time is a reasonable 30-45 min, and you settle back in and await your late night meal. Simple, right? Wrong.

The paths Postmates takes after accepting a delivery are numerous and often incomprehensible. Sometimes your order will be canceled for no reason. Other times the ETA will go later and later until you’re not even sure the restaurant will be open at that time. There’s four stages of an order – acceptance, preparation, pick up, and delivery. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t let you contact your courier until the pick up stage, and things can easily go awry before then. The restaurant might not even have what you ordered and you can’t do anything about it. An option to change your order before this stage would ensure that people get something they want.

However, the situation is most likely to get fucked up at the delivery stage. Admittedly, it’s kind of confusing to get up here – you can use the wrong side of Broadway or go to the wrong school entirely. But many of the problems also belong to the app itself: The tracking service is abhorrent and totally inaccurate, and the communication methods used by Postmates are entirely ineffective: a number you can’t text or call back and automated services abound. Additionally, the courier can declare the order complete at anytime before you’ve actually received it, and then the app gives you no option but to rate and tip them.

And if you’ve made it past all these hurdles, there’s still the possibility that you won’t even get the food you ordered. Most restaurants allow for special requests – no sauce, extra cheese, what have you – but there’s no guarantee that those will be fulfilled. These mistakes can range from merely inconvenient (wiping mayo off) to dangerous (peanut sauce for someone with an allergy).

Of course, we can’t forget about the exorbitant pricing. The app finds a way to charge you for everything – the food itself, tax, a “small cart fee”, a delivery fee, a “temporary authorization fee”, and tip. This means $10 worth of tacos can end up costing close to $30. Food delivery has been around way before this app, and no pizza place or Chinese food establishment would ever rack up their charges this way. What gives?

TL;DR: Postmates sucks. Columbia makes it worse.

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