Andrei Zodian‎ > ‎courier‎ > ‎


This page is created for those who would like to try to get paid for working out just like I did and be able to deduct food expenses from their taxes ("food as fuel"). If you are a courier already and would like to supplement your income, you might be interested in the advertiser page.

For my very first job in Canada I worked as a lifeguard. Most people think of it as "physical", but for the most part, you sit down and watch kids in a pool doing stupid thinks. The mere act of paying attention to a busy swimming pool can get you very tired mentally, without a corresponding physical feeling of exhaustion. Since then, I worked in more intellectually demanding jobs, mostly having to do with IT, and while I like intellectual stimulation, I found that I need regular physical exercise to feel good, stay healthy and perform well. Of all the jobs available to me, I find bicycle courier to be the best combination of exercise, having fun and financial reward (see also Dan Pink's talk at TED or its RSA animation for an explanation why performance-commensurate pay works for physical tasks but not for cognitive-complex ones).

As a bicycle courier, most companies will consider you an "independent contractor" which means no benefits and that most protections available to full time workers do not apply to you. That is fine if you do this as a way to stay fit, but it might not be sufficient for a full time career. 

All the companies I worked with provide quite a bit of flexibility which you can trade off for guaranteed earnings if that's what you want. For their apps, I provide the Google Play rating out of 5 and the number of reviews (this was written sometime at the end of 2016), which is usually an indicator of popularity (though not only in Toronto but worldwide). Here they are:
  • DoorDash currently pays a flat rate of $7/order + tips and a guarantee of minimum $12/h, with conditions. Interaction with the customer is encouraged and calling, texting go through double anonymization. They will charge you $30 for their branded red square backpack which is deducted from your first week's earnings and they also give you free t-shirtsYou can get hired online in the most streamlined process of these companies via You would have to complete 30 deliveries in 30 days and then you will get at least (it increases with need) $50. The customer app has a rating of 4.5/11516, driver (dasher) has 2.9/1109 while the order manager has 3.5/22.
  • UberEats - They pay $4.225/order + $1.2025/km (they changed the payment formula and now you get paid more if you wait more, as explained by them for a 16 min/2.7 km trip: 
           New Fare: $1.50 pickup fee + ($0.49 x 2.7 km) + ($0.28 x 16 minutes) + $1.00 drop-off fee = $8.30
           Old Fare: $2.90 pickup fee + ($1.05 x 2.7 km) + $2.50 drop-off fee = $8.24
    There are no tips via the app, but I was given cash tips a few times. UberEats might occasionally increase pay at peak times or during inclement weather (e.g., +$3/order or double the pay) or have specific food promotions on specific days, allowing you to make around $30/h over a few hours in the evening. There are no shifts, no tips (except occasional cash tips) and no guarantee, you sign in and out as you please. Their black, rounded trapezoid-like backpack is $25, deducted in 2 payments of $12.50 from your earnings. They also provide a more detailed and exact accounting of your trips. The referral code is YZT23EZ4UE or just use my full name in the referral box; you will get at least (it increases with need) a $50 bonus, on top of your earning, on a successful application. If you're looking for the taxi referral code so that you can get your first free ride (i.e., with simply Uber), it's andreiz32ue. Its customer app has 4.1/10820 while its driver app has 4.4/301199 (the numbers reflect a worldwide presence and the "partner" app seems to be the same for taxicabs and delivery guys).
  • Favor - They offer a $12/h guarantee only for scheduled rides, but the guarantee applies to the shift, not an entire week. You are paid $2-4/order (more in the weekend, less on Monday-Thursday) plus a $2 minimum tip. Their starter kit including Saran wrap, a branded square backpack like Doordash but black and with a blue logo as well as t-shirts is $45. Favor requires the most interaction with the customer, as virtually anything, even non-food items can be ordered, but that usually means the possibility for more tips. You only need to mention my name to Dushyant when applying or use the code ANDRZ9N to get the referral benefit; you will then have to run 10 favors in 14 days. Google Play: customer app has 3.8/60 while the "runner" is private and thus unrated.
  • Foodora - When I applied, to me, Jack never got back (or got caught up in my anti-telemarketer filter). I spoke to a few of their couriers and a "ride captain" and the pay is $4/order + $1/km. Ride captains are full time staff who make more and also get benefits. I cannot provide any first-hand experience on what is like working for Foodora, but most of those I spoke to seemed happy and content and had no desire to work for another company. Foodora customer app has a rating of 2.8/1844.
  • JustEat - I haven't applied, but talked to someone who switched to UE in the meantime and apparently he was paid $4 flat for car deliveries, which does not sound like a lot. App 4/4604
  • Zap - Karen mentioned to me that their best couriers make $400/week with an intense work schedule. I applied, but they did not get back to me or could not make it past my anti-telemarketer filter.
New companies may appear and go, but these are the ones I tried. I have included for each, where possible, a referral link which, if used to apply for a position with them and then proceed to work, will give you around $50 bonus on top of your regular earnings as long as you do a set number of deliveries in the first month or week - they want to be sure you actually work and don't apply solely for the bonus. Promotions may change and that amount could vary with demand for new riders.

Each company I worked with has also requested me to go through a criminal background check (which I obviously passed) provided by Checkr, possibly a credit check (my credit score is well above 700, which puts me roughly in the top 10% of Canadians) and I had to provide them with my social insurance number.

Perhaps the best way to be happy doing such a job is to think of it as not a job, but merely a way to get paid to exercise.

I have more tips to give, but not enough time to write them down. When I find the time, I might publish it in a longer document. Buy me brunch (I'd say coffee or beer, but the truth is, I don't drink much of either) and I'd be happy to answer any further questions you might have!