Glovo fined its couriers for “abusing” the application?

Last week, the "challenge" was terminated for part of the couriers people who work through the Glovo application. As a result, these workers are being deprived of realizing part of their earnings, which are based on completing a certain number of deliveries. Glovo claims it fired these workers because they “misused” the application – but what constitutes misuse and according to whom?

Using the Glovo application, one can register to work using one of four types of transportation: car, motorcycle, bicycle or by walking. What differentiates these types of transport in the app is the distance of the delivery (cars covering the largest distances on average), the area of the city they work in, and the value of the delivery.

Up until mid-June in 2023, Glovo calculated the distance for a delivery by applying the same methodology for all types of transport. Kilometers traveled were calculated from the pick-up point to the delivery point according to the route the car would have to travel, and couriers were paid 35 dinars for each kilometer. However, in June, Wolt changed its practice by instead calculating distance traveled by using a straight line directly from a restaurant to the customer and paying couriers 60 dinars per kilometer.

Many couriers welcomed this change, as on paper it appeared that couriers would benefit from an increase in earnings. Glovo even informed the workers that aside from reducing “challenges” by 50 percent, no other aspect of the earnings formula would change.

However, when this new system for calculating earnings was implemented, the couriers were in for an unpleasant surprise. The routes used to calculate their distance traveled were no longer car routes, but Google map routes for cyclists and pedestrians. In practice this means that the route can theoretically be anywhere except through buildings. For example, couriers using bikes or walking can supposedly travel in both directions of a one-way street, climb stairs, pass through underground passages, parks, and use other impractical routes.

While the maximum distance that a cyclist can travel during a delivery has remained the same, the method of calculating the distance has changed significantly. With these changes, couriers on bicycles travel more on average than before. As a result, couriers using bicycles became the cheapest per kilometer while the area of the city where they work was expanded, making their job even more difficult.

Each delivery by bike now takes even longer to complete. Consequently, bicyclist’s earnings per delivery have remained the same and they are completing less deliveries overall.

A small group of couriers always completed deliveries via walking, and the earnings per kilometer parameters have remained untouched. However, the earning potential for pedestrians was always linear insofar as for every 10 deliveries, an additional 600 dinars was earned, and so on up to 130 deliveries, which is the maximum. The current limit for cyclists is 170 deliveries worth 5,500 dinars.

These changes systemically disadvantage couriers using bicycles, and as a result these workers started to register as pedestrians. Registering as using a transport that you are not in fact using has happened before, and Glovo itself was aware of the trend. However, with the older earnings calculation method, cyclists would frequently earn less by registering as pedestrians. As such, the company did not combat the practice and likely welcomed the move as they were paying couriers less.

Yet, with the shift in earnings calculation, bicyclists registering as pedestrians began to earn the same or more than when they registered as using bikes. According to a courier’s testimony, news of this reached Glovo management, who was not thrilled at all. In retribution, the newest update to the app relegated some pedestrian couriers back to bicyclists and canceled the “challenge” for all remaining pedestrians citing their “misuse” of the app.

Mašina reached out to Glovo for a comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.


This article was written with support from the European Union.


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