Ordering a dozen 1.5-litre bottles of water? Spare a thought for delivery riders

One of the advantages of buying groceries online instead of in the store, especially if you purchase in bulk, is that you do not have to carry the heavy load home yourself.

Someone will do it for you.

But have you ever thought about that "someone" carrying that heavy load for you? What he or she has to go through?

Being a delivery rider, Stomp contributor Peter Yeo has thought about it a lot and is concerned about rider safety.

He said: "Delivery riders often received GrabMart orders for 1.5-litre bottles of mineral water. It can sometimes be 12 to 18 bottles. There would be no assistance to help the rider make the delivery.

"The support staff would tell the rider to make two or three trips to the customer but not inform the rider how much he would be paid for his effort to make the multiple-trip delivery for the particular customer."

He told Stomp that how much a rider is paid depends on the distance to the customer.

"Some riders are illiterate and they would not know how to check the order details," said Peter.

"The chatbot and rider support team would not allow us to cancel the order. They would state that the distance was within the range for our vehicle type. If we reject the order on our end, our weekly incentive would be forfeited.

"I am consolidating the order details from fellow riders so that Grab can actually do something about it. I have also given my feedback to National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA) on this issue."

NDCA is part of NTUC's Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit and represents freelancers whose main source of income is from food or package delivery.

PHOTO: Stomp

In response to a Stomp query, Advisor to NDCA Yeo Wan Ling said the association acknowledged the concerns of the Stomp contributor regarding the insufficient platform support when faced with heavy delivery loads.

"Similar to what he raised, NDCA members have also shared with us that delivery riders are occasionally assigned orders which have heavy loads and can be challenging for those using e-bikes or bicycles," she said.

"Consumers are often unaware that their heavy load orders may be transported by these modes of transport.

"Riders might be reluctant to alert the platform of their difficulty in transporting such orders as the process of seeking the platform’s assistance could be lengthy and jeopardise their order acceptance and cancellation rates which are tracked by the platform. Hence, riders often choose to bear the heavy loads and proceed with deliveries.

"The safety and well-being of delivery riders is a priority and NDCA has surfaced these challenges to platforms and the Government.

"On NDCA’s end, we advocated the setting up of a Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Workgroup to address safety issues related to delivery riders, including reviewing the concern on heavy delivery loads. The WSH for Delivery Services workgroup is in discussion with its members, including the platforms, to put together a set of recommended guidelines for the industry to reduce accident risks for riders."

Ms Yeo, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, added that NDCA also intends to conduct a study on a safety evaluation of load limits for bicycles and power-assisted bicycles.

"There are also ongoing channels for NDCA members to share cases of penalisation with the association. In this regard, we urge delivery platforms to review their work processes to improve the safety and well-being of our delivery riders."

Stomp has contacted Grab for more info.

In response to Ms Yeo's statement, Peter told Stomp: "It is actually good for NDCA to liaise with the various platforms about work safety loads for the mode of transportation the riders are using.

"Riders are willing to contact the various platforms to alert them of the heavy loads, but the issue is with the platform chatbot. It doesn't understand what the rider is relating to them. It is very hard to get through their hotline whereby they could talk to a human rider support associate.

"Some riders are not able to seek assistance from the platforms because they are illiterate and have problems trying to text through the chatbot to let the platforms know the issue they are facing.

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"If the rider has to make multiple trips, the amount to be compensated for the rider's effort to complete the delivery should be made known to him in black and white. To quote an example, the platform should adjust the earnings on the spot on the rider's app so that he would know how much he would earn for the multiple-trip delivery.

"Maybe we can get the platforms' management staff to perform a delivery using the various modes like a manual bicycle, power-assisted bicycle or motorbike so they actually understand how heavy is the load of 12 1.5-litre bottles of mineral water."

The Stomp contributor added: "Customers should also be educated that if they order 12 1.5-litre bottles of mineral water, their order would most likely be rejected by most riders.

"To address this issue, the various platforms can limit the quantity of merchandise the customers can order. A safe load should be implemented on grocery orders for the rider's safety."

ALSO READ: Hunchbacked man, 64, takes an hour to deliver food on trolley

This article was first published in Stomp. Permission required for reproduction.