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DoorDash couriers can now ditch abusive customers without penalty


DoorDash has expanded its safety toolkit, rolling out new features that will automatically check in with delivery workers and provide easier ways to report incidents that could impact the safety of both its customers and employees.

As the first line of defense, the company has introduced SafeChat: an automated message monitoring system that detects any offensive or abusive language used within the app’s chat function and issues a warning to whoever sent the message — whether they’re a customer or a DoorDash employee.

A gif displaying how SafeChat works on the DoorDash chat app. A customer has sent a message that says “You’re pissing me off, where is my order?!” which then leads to them being reported.

SafeChat will detect any offensive or abusive language used within its chat feature and allow delivery drivers to unassign themselves from the order to avoid in-person interaction.
Image: DoorDash

Once detected, DoorDash will automatically give recipients the option to report the message, and couriers will be able to unassign themselves from the delivery without the risk of penalty. DoorDash drivers can additionally use the in-app Chat platform to report incidents during or after a delivery and will have the option to block future deliveries to an offending customer.

The app will also issue porch light reminders that ask customers to switch on any available outdoor lighting to help delivery workers safely find the correct address at night. SafeChat, improved safety reporting, and porch light notification features are already live across the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

While the food delivery service first introduced its in-app safety toolkit SafeDash last year, which provides its employees with a button to contact an ADT agent if they feel unsafe, it’s expanding that to include SafeDash Check-in. This is an automated system that will ping delivery workers if it detects a delivery is taking longer than expected.

A gif displaying a DoorDash courier flagged by SafeDash for taking longer than expected, prompting them to update on their current situation.

DoorDash will send automated prompts to its couriers if it detects a delivery is taking too long, allowing them to call 911 or connect with an ADT agent.
Image: DoorDash

If enabled, a message will appear on the employee’s device to prompt them for a safety update. If they don’t respond within two minutes, a delivery worker will be contacted by an ADT agent who can provide assistance or contact 911. SafeDash Check-in is initially launching in New York City and Washington, DC, and will eventually make its way across the rest of the US. These new safety features share similarities with those released by Uber earlier this year, which provide additional options for riders to contact 911, contact an ADT safety agent, share trip status, or report a safety issue to the company.

For larger incidents, DoorDash has partnered with Samdesk, a global crisis-detection platform, to roll out real-time safety alerts to notify DoorDash merchants, employees, and customers of local emergencies. In such an event, DoorDash says it will proactively contact delivery workers nearby to ensure their safety, in addition to suspending operations and canceling any active deliveries in the affected area. Real-time safety alerts will be available across the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, though an official release date has not been specified.

Allowing couriers to report and block any customers that may endanger them without facing a penalty is a step forward, but there is only so much that technology can do to improve the safety of DoorDash delivery workers, especially regarding incidents that occur outside of courier-customer interactions. Last year, a report from The Verge detailed that delivery workers across New York City are often ambushed by opportunistic thieves who attempt to steal their e-bikes. In many cases, reporting these thefts to the police was so ineffective that many workers have concluded calling 911 is a waste of time.



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