Monthly Archives: November 2015

Should you work for Postmates? An update one year later as a San Francisco Postmates Courier. Plus new Payout Model.

For my original post in November 2014 about working as a Postmates courier, click here. This current post you are reading is an update one year later after working with Postmates.

Executive summary for those not wanting to read my commentary:
Postmates has not changed much. You still are a delivery drive in SF and you will not be rich. I averaged around $15/hr. But if you work harder and hustle better than I did (very easy to do since I am lazy) you can probably do a lot better than my $15/hr average.

 

Let's roll.
Let’s roll.

Full commentary:

Candidly, I have completed only 9 orders for Postmates in 2015. I only picked being a Postmates courier back up after I was contacted in early October from Janic at the Canadian Broadcast Company to do a radio interview for a spot he was doing on the “gig economy” and he wanted to get insight from a Postmates driver as Postmates was going to expand to Montreal, Canada.  Janic did a ride along when I was delivering a few deliveries a few weeks back on October 17th.

Postmates was running a promotion for a minimum floor of $25 during this time and I have my own opinions on this for which I will save you my emotion ridden thoughts and say that I did not qualify for the $25/hr minimum during my deliveries with Janice on October 17th.  I am still waiting to hear about the final broadcast and if I will make the cut. I hope so and I will share that if that occurs.

Details of my Postmates work in 2015:
3 jobs in January 2015
2 orders in February 20151 in March 2015 for a promotion for $25 to return
3 jobs in October (all on October 17th with Janic from the CBC)
1 job on November 7th

I was sort of kicked off the platform (the platform is what Postmates calls it to avoid California labor laws to pay you as an employee, thus justifying paying you as a contractor. Postmates argues, like uber and lyft argue, that they are connecting you with customers who want to have deliveries. Ok fine.) and I also left on my own accord as I had a full time office job. I was not doing deliveries and Postmates took me off as a courier.

I was mainly doing Postmates on the side to earn extra money. After doing it a bit, the time and effort I put in for the monetary reward was not worth it. I.e the pay was not good enough for me.

Now, I am not saying that it will not be good enough for you, just that with my job situation the amount of time I was putting into Postmates to effectively earn about $15/hour was not worth it. I determined it was better to enjoy my life watching Netflix than deliver some smelly curry to lazy tech engineers from curry up now.  I also have a full time office job and I too get to be a cushy office employee!

It was a rather simple process to get back online to work with Postmates. I had to go back to the Postmates office on 475 Valencia street and be approved (because of my stellar rating from last year of a 4.9 out of 5.0 I was given the green light and a new pex card) to roam the streets of SF.  Like a herion addict looking for his next fix after the come down, the excitement wore off of delivers and I am now looking for my next fix. And that is coming from sharing my experiences at Postmates.  I reject a lot of jobs and was recently kicked of while writing the draft of this post yesterday.  Hell, it is even surging right now as I write today, and I can make some good money getting out there and delivering, but I chose to write this for you dear reader. The choices we make in life.

You are logged off!
You are logged off!

The Changes.

APP updates.  The app is better.
Better Dashboard with better transparency on the payouts.  Mileage estimate.   Mapping / routing.    Wait time estimate for orders that have been placed in advance.  This is a good update.  This avoids waiting for 50 minutes at little star pizza for the pizza to be ready.  Added the timing feature to see how long the wait is if an order is ready or not.  If its blank it is not ready!! Or you have to place the order yourself.  The app now has the distance you would be traveling. This is a nice feature. Very necessary for bikers.  A hill feature would probably be great for bicyclists.

The money shot.
The money shot. (Dashboard for your payouts is better)

Pay out not much better.

Update:  This is changing!!! I got an e-mail the day that I was going to post this.  I will include the links and screenshots below for information, however I have yet to delivery a job with the new payout structure.  It is new starting November 19, 2015.
New payout model full FAQ document from Postmates linked here.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 7.27.50 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 7.28.04 AM

 

 

There is a lot of money in San Francisco.  People will pay a premium for a service such as Postmates.  A recent example is an order for an apple store pick up as I write this.

Buy my phone!
Buy my new apple tv!

There is a need/market for the service. Postmates is filling that need / market opportunity. Like the industrial workers in the steel mines at the beginning of this century, and to the current workers in mines, the hard work goes unnoticed.

 

Wire Transfer / Direct deposit fee  Postmates still takes $.15 of every payment.  This is ridiculous. Yes, 15 cents is not much money, but come on. Quit taking my cut! You are taking 2.5% of my earnings. At the current level of zero interested rates by the fed, this is a huge take!

Texts from Postmates Customer service.  You will get texts from the Postmates customer service.

Postmates text messages

 

The majority of the orders are still for food orders, however there are more interesting orders.  Such as: Fed ex pick up, Pharmacy pick up,  Apple store pick up, Cleaners order.

Risk of accidents. You are using your own car. I never told my insuracnce I was using my car for work. Rates would have gone up. Thankfully I was never involved in a situation which resulted in any injuries or issues. I did have a small incident where I hit the person in front of me while on the corner of hayes and van ness, but gratefully the guy I hit was in a good mood and we shook hands, saying all is well and went our separate ways. Thanks man!

Tips to make your Postmates courier work more profitable

Accept jobs make money.  People are lazy. Including myself. I am picky and justify not accepting jobs. But you are not going to make money sitting on your ass.

Stack jobs.  You will have the ability to do more that one job at a time starting from the time that you pick up your first order and set it to delivery.  Pay during blitz is the best.

Get a scooter or motorcycle.  Parking sucks and you don’t want to be hit with a double parking tickets from the fascists at the SF Department of Traffic.  This is funny now, but my friend who referred me to Postmates (he did it part time for fun and runs his own accounting site at: alkdj) got a parking ticket when we went to the Postmates office on Valencia street to pick up his pex card. 5 minutes in the Postmates office and already had a ticket. And he was in a real parking spot. Not double parking which will get you an extra fine.

Don’t pick orders that have a bunch of stuff to pick up.  $14 for a safeway run?  Are you freaking kidding me???  It will take you an hour just to pick up all this stuff.  Dude, this is not priceline. You don’t name your price or name your order. You want all this stuff?

IMG_1457 IMG_1456 IMG_1455 IMG_1454

All from one order. Just say No to bad jobs!
All from one order. Just say No to bad jobs!

Don’t pick up the phone from Postmates customer service. They just want to assign some shitty crappy job that some knucklehead courier screwed up. Don’t be left picking up the trash from someone else’s mess.

Don’t take jobs from taqueria’s in the mission. You will most likely have to wait in line to order as lots of these place do not accept orders in advance over the phone.

Don’t take jobs where people are ordering from burger king and mcdonalds. These poor ass fools ain’t gonna tip you!

Do take the jobs where someone wants booze.Wine or liquor orders are great. You will most likely get tipped from tipsy customers!  They might be drunk and tip you more!

How to make Postmates better?

Admittedly, I do not have the answers. I like to rant and complain though!  Ultimately as a driver,  you are just cog in the system of life. As a courier, you are easily replaceable and Postmates will and can just remove you from being a driver at any time.

A better payout structure is necessary (just changed, see above; I don’t have any commentary on this yet).  Pay people as employees. This is where I understand the Postmates effort to ensure you pick up certain jobs to have the minimum. Let’s put it this way, if you are hard worker and smart enough, you will have a better job than a Postmates courier delivery driver and will be ordering your lattes delivered to you.   But $6 for a mcdonalds order is not worth it.

The gig economy is only making a few people a lot richer where the working stiffs are left sweaty and dirty from your thai food spilling all over myself and the inside of my car.

I only delivered in my car and on the evenings during the week. During the day and evenings during the weekend.  If you are a bicyclist or a walker (new since last year) your experience will be different. The morning or lunch shifts during the week I never worked.  Hustle at your own risk.

Ultimately the incentive is not there for me. My heated room with a cup of warm coffee in the cold, crisp November Sunday morning sure beats getting off my ass to pick up a chitpotle burrito bowl for your lazy ass for $10.

Enough of my rant for the day. Time to enjoy some netflix and have a pizza delivered.

 

What is like to work at PwC’s Flexibility² Talent Network – PwC (FTN) program?

After reading my friend’s post on his time at DCAA at his site: accountanthacks.com (link)  and his thoughts on the “gig” economy (link), I wanted to share my story about working as a contractor during the audit busy season for one of the big four public accounting firms, PwC. I worked as an Flexibility Talent Network. My friend of accountanthacks.com also worked as an FTN and shares some of his thoughts here: Link.

 

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What is FTN?

The FTN program is a short term assignment for the public accounting busy season. I worked during the Audit busy season, however I think that you can work during the tax time as well. The audit busy season generally runs from January through about mid March or April, tpically after the fiscal year end of a public company. I worked under contract with PwC from early November 2013 through March 31, 2014.

Why FTN?

Overall, I think that it would be a good program for someone who has experienced life events resulting in a lay off, quit job, moved for one reason or another, currently working some other contract job or any other reason for which a contract role would be appealing.  A lot of the fellow FTN folks I met were  at a point in their lives where some flexibility was a good thing, stay at home moms or Looking to change careers for example.

Depending on your situation, it can be a valid option.  I had quit an accounting job in the SF bay area and relocated to Southern California and was in between jobs.  A short term consulting job fit right what I need to get back on track.

 

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How to get the job:

You will need to have accounting and some sort of audit experience. So this is a relatively narrow market of people. Also will want to work a contract / short term assignment. Again you are not looking at the most standard employable people. (myself included and I realize that this is a put down, but is the truth). as the most stellar accountants probably already have a full time job and are killing it. Reach out to the PwC FTN team at: Link

The talent pool is a bit limited given that PwC is trying to hire experienced auditors. So they need to get people who have audit experience, but are not currently working or looking to leave a full time role to work contract. When I worked, I met lots of foreigners. Expats from Ireland or Australia coming over to work in the U.S. I can see where PwC would want to hire these folks. Speak english. Good selling point to come to the USA. Granted that it is our winter when it would be around the down under’s summer.

 

Why Work FTN?
The Pros:

The Pay. You are an hourly employee. This means overtime pay! Dolla Dolla Bills given all the overtime you will have to put in. The pay has to be number one reason you would want to be an FTN employee. The hourly salary is fairly reasonable at the public accounting industry. I was paid $35/hr, which is less that industry market, however with overtime and benefits, I think makes up. You can make about half the pay of a regular audit associate for only working about a third of the year. At $35/hour (on the low end I would imagine for a contractor for the busy season). You are grossing $1,400 / week ( $35/hr X 40hrs ) plus overtime at 55 hours; time and a half get you an additional $787.5 / week ($52.5 X 15 hours) for a gross at 55 hours of $ 2187.5 / week. Annualized this would be $113750 / year salary gross; no taxes. You will have to pay taxes no matter where you look so I have not worried about that on these calculations.
This does not include any additional overtime you would incur beyond 55 hours / week, which is highly likely and any bonus at the end of the contract.

Travel / open assignments. Not a guarantee, but you can probably work at your choice of market/ location. The big places like NYC, SF and Chicago always need people.  There is also the potential to travel for training.I met a guy in training that was working in Chicago just for the hell of it since he always wanted to do that. Another person was working in NYC for similar reasons.  Why not try to work somewhere new? You will have to secure some sort of short term housing situation, but could be a great experience.

Training. I went for two weeks outside Chicago (I was working out of the Southern California Orange County office). Fully paid flight and you are paid while you are training. Training involves learning the PwC proprietary audit software and audit/accounting guidance. Granted training may change as I heard that now they are moving to a more localized training within each market, closer to your assigned office.   During training you get a meal allowance which is pretty good at $50 per day (only during training and not during the whole program : )  You are away from your family though, so those with a family or other commitments closer to home, this may be a downside.
Training is a great opportunity to meet fellow FTNers and new experienced hires on PwC starting at the same time as you.

Inventory Counts. This can also be a con, but I personally like inventory counts. They take you away from the daily grind of the office / audit room and get out to see how companies operate.  No one else wants to do these (as they take place over the Christmas break), but you will get paid to work inventory counts.  I did one inventory count in Albuquerque new mexico. Flew out there for a day, stayed at the courtyard Marriott, had my food paid for.   I was not going to get paid during the firm shutdown anyway, so it was good to get paid and get out.

Paid Meals. If you work over 11 hours in a day you can get your dinner paid for if you eat at the client or office. Granted this is slightly depressing as you are eating at your desk inside the audit room, but at least you don’t have to foot the bill.

CPE Credits and CPA license renewal fee paid. My license renewal came due when I was working and I was allowed to expense the bill.  Paid CPA organization dues including CPA license CPE credits if you are a licensed CPA.  You also get to keep up on CPE credits. I got 77 credits for the audit course during two weeks training when I started.

Health Care. You will have the option to elect to have healthcare (paid for) but at least you will not be paying the full out of pocket coverage.

Brand name recognition on your resume. PwC is a great name in the accounting industry
PwC does have a good brand.

Paid cell phone. Can actually get an iphone (or at least I did). Phone paid for while you work.  Make sure to change the account back to a personal account before you leave so that you don’t lose your phone number (assuming you want the number).

Mileage reimbursement. Any excess travel mileage to the client site you get to expense and paid out at the current IRS Mileage rate (57.5 cents per mile as of time of writing)

Bonus. Assuming you stay until the end and obtain formal positive feedback through the review process, you will get a bonus at the end of the contract term. Mine was $1,000. Not life changing, but always great to have some extra cash money. You have to get one review during your time to get the bonus.

A for Audit!
A for Audit!

Cons

You are not paid over Christmas / holiday shutdown.  PwC typically has a firm shutdown over the Christmas to new years holiday time. As an hourly employee you will not be paid over this time, unless you are working. (see inventory counts above in pros).

Age difference. I was away from public accounting for a few years. I was older than most of the people of my job level since they were straight out of college or only 2 years removed.  So first year senior associates are 25 years old and managers are about 27/ 28 or so. I was older than the manager that I was working for. Generally this should not be an issue, but it does present its challenges to have someone who just graduated school trying to tell me around.  Also I felt that there was an immaturity level of the associates that I had grown out of.   I got along well with everyone, just that I could relate more to the managers given life/ age experience.  Keep the age difference in mind if you are considering FTN.

The Work. You’re an Auditor.  End of story.  No one really likes you.  The work is boring and tedious and you have no sense of ownership.  At times a lot of this is busy work. Adding tick marks to reconciliations. Cash Reconciliations.  You will be auditing. not the most life changing and world altering of jobs. But hey, you get to ensure George Soros is making money.  But for a short term assignment with relatively good pay, I made it happen.  I was helping on a property management audit for which the controller hated us. Like straight up hated. Yelling, storming out of meetings. Straight up immature behavior.  This is behavior that is unacceptable in real life, but is a common occurrence in audit firms.  I learned to not take this personally, but the audit environment is not the best.

Sarbanes Oxley (sox) Testing. SOX sucks. Let’s just leave it at that.

Hours. You will be working during busy season, expected to bill at least 55 hours per week. (that’s 11 hours a day during the week; so 8am to 7pm assuming no lunch break). But you will be expected to be working longer than that, plus you have to commute.  This is offset with the pay, (see above for pay under pros). When do you eat you ask? Well, at least food/dinner is brought in! This means eating at your desk, which brings me to:

The Mess. Audit conference rooms are dirty, smelly, unclean cramped environments where you will be spending your time.   Not for the most OCD folks.

No job at the end at the end of the contract term. You might be entitled for unemployment compensation from your state at the end of your term as an FTN. I am not sure on that though and offer no advice or recommendations on that. But either way, you will be out there knocking down doors again to get a new job.

 

The Audit Room.
The Audit Room.

Tips to make your FTN experience successful

Make friends quickly with everyone everywhere. This means at training, during the interview process, from your team events. You will need the resources later on during the audit to ask questions.
Realize that you are not there to change the world and nothing is ultimately your responsibility.  I needed to constantly remind myself of this idea. I tend to be a bit neurotic at times and think everything is my responsibility or fault. Guess what? it is not. If you make a mistake auditing, not much will happen. Sure some people might lose money, but no one is going to die unlike if you were working in construction and made a mistake, In Construction if there is a screw up, someone might die.  Sure, if you make a mistake at audit, you might get yelled at but the whole situation and industry is screwed up anyway. It is not your fault. Learn from it and move on.

Everyone’s experience will be different and every market will be different. However if you are in transition or don’t know what you know what you want to do, it could be a good option.  But most of all, enjoy it. It may feel like prison at times but it will be short term!

Conclusion

Overall, I had a good experience with the FTN program. However, it reminded me why I left public accounting. Auditors are weird bunch and with the requirement and regulations, it is just not my cup of tea.  I have come to accept that I will get paid a little less to work a more reasonable lifestyle.

But if you are in between jobs or looking to try something out, give it a try. Worst thing is that it is only a couple of month. I do not think that this would be the best long term solution. Good to have in your back pocket though. If you do well, the idea is that you can come back the next year.

If you already have a job, I would not necessarily recommend quitting to do FTN, but if you have experienced some life events which put you in between jobs, FTN can be the kickstart your career needs to get rolling.  Until next time, heep up the good tickmarks!