UberEats worker on the brink of homelessness begs customers to leave tips
TikTok

A TikTok video has gone unexpectedly viral after it shocked viewers by exposing the reality of the financial hardships of people who work as drivers for food-delivery companies.

The clip was uploaded by user Riley Elliot back in 2021 (although he clarified that his legal name is Riley Todd until he’s married). According to a subsequent video, he only had 9 followers at the time – all of whom were his close friends.

But his video clearly resonated. It’s been widely viewed on TikTok, amassing hundreds of thousands of likes and comments, and Elliot’s account has blown up – he now has more than 17,000 followers.

In the video, Elliot is sitting in a vehicle, clearly distressed after having completed a food delivery job. He says: “Y’all I wish that people who order UberEats or Doordash understood what it’s like to be a driver.”

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In tears, he goes on to explain that he was only paid $2.50 for the 45-minute job, and had to pay $3 for parking as the customer wouldn’t come outside to meet him. He added that the customer gave him only a $1.50 tip.

“I gotta prove three times rent for income in two weeks and I can’t. It doesn’t matter that I’m working multiple jobs, that I barely sleep, that I can barely afford to feed myself. I’m about to be homeless for the third time since May and it’s all because people don’t tip their delivery drivers. Like, how hard is it to throw us five bucks?”

In the on-screen caption, he added: “I’m out here risking my life in a pandemic and no one cares.”

Elliot's sudden increase in popularity helped him turn his life around and is now reportedly in a much better place. A successful GoFundMe page, that is still active for Elliot has raised more than $20,000 for him.

Elliot's clip was also shared on Twitter, where it has been viewed 3.4 million times. The responses largely echoed the comments on the TikTok video, with people sympathising with Elliot while also debating whether blaming the customers for a lack of tips is the solution, as opposed to holding the delivery companies accountable.

In a video posted later the same day, Elliot explained that he had received an overwhelming amount of support, as well as donations which allowed him to move into a new home.

He also addressed comments that referenced expensive items visible in his video, explaining that his income has drastically changed since the start of the pandemic – as has been the case for so many Americans.

In a later follow-up, Elliot acknowledged that the blaming customers entirely was not helpful, and that he believed that food-delivery companies that rely on gig workers should bear more responsibility to ensure drivers are paid fairly. He added that this is a broader issue too, highlighting the tip-based culture which exists in the service industry in America.

While Elliot appears to be in a much better financial situation now thanks to the viral success of his video, it’s important to remember that there are thousands of others in similar situations who aren’t going viral and may well still be struggling. Just something to bear in mind next time we order pizza...

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