Friday, June 21Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

My first week working as an UberEATS courier in Egham

During lockdown, like many people across the country, I signed up to become an UberEATS partner. 

The requirements for bicycle delivery? A bicycle (of course), photo ID, a bank statement & background check, proof of your right to work in the UK ,and a smartphone. The signup was straightforward, but the DBS check through Uber’s employment background checker Sterling took longer than expected. I was on the road about six weeks after signing up, but the wait may now be longer now due to a reported surge in applications.

Uber Community Guidelines recommend you wear a certified, fitted helmet, use an insulated bag (I bought Uber’s own for £42.50 as well as their reflective rain jacket for £28.00), a battery pack, a bicycle phone mount and front & rear lights. 

Once my fluorescent Uber bag arrived I took to the road to get comfortable before Friday night, which I knew would be busy. Once I got over the initial embarrassment of cycling with a clumsy green box on my back, it was fine. I got comfortable with the routine very quickly: accepting a request, whizzing to the restaurant, and arranging the orders in my bag before couriering to my destination. 

Here are some things I learned:

Uber pays you a fare which is made up of a £1.50/mi distance fee, a £2.20 drop-off fee, sometimes a minimum fair supplement, and a £1.40 pickup fee. A 25% deduction is then made, which is Uber’s service charge. The fare is then supplemented with any promotional boosts (in peak times, a multiplier of 1.1x-1.9x is added) and finally with any tips you made. Most people don’t tip but a few generous students have (thank you!) which makes my job so much more worth it as a £3 tip is nearly equivalent to a delivery.

I worked 9.5 hours over three evenings, making a total of 22 trips, taking home £88.60. This averaged out as £9.33 p/h or £4.03 per delivery. When you work for Uber, you are self-employed, and your returns are only as great as your effort. More deliveries = more money.

With Uber, you do not get paid between deliveries or when you are waiting for restaurants to make the food. To maximise my efficiency I work during peak times, and use the quieter times to wait around busier restaurants. On Friday night, fish & chip deliveries were back to back, so it made sense to be in the area. At quieter times, I cycle to Staines which can take 10 minutes. Here, deliveries can be more frequent, and a change of scenery is welcome. 

I also learned that you can’t see your delivery destination until after you’ve already accepted the food from the restaurant. Uber does this to prevent cherry picking. You can however decline to accept the delivery but Uber’s algorithm usually ensures the delivery isn’t too far away. 

It’s time to address the elephant in the room – Egham Hill.

Yes, as an Uber partner you will have to cycle this. On Friday night, I did this trip 7 times. For me, cycling is not about fitness but about stamina, consistency and efficiency. The money is highly motivating but knowing how to ride your bike properly will save you a lot of time and energy. 

Watch out for pedestrians. Slamming on the breaks is not good for the food, and taking unnecessary risks isn’t good for you or people around you, so take it easy and always be prepared for pedestrians to jump out in front of you (it happens). 

One thing I haven’t got used to is the stares. Uber cyclists are something of a spectacle in Egham. I don’t recall seeing a single one in the past three years of being here. Everybody gawks at me, but I try to ignore it. 

If you want to work several hours, make sure you stay hydrated! Water will add extra weight to your bike, so I take a small bottle and fill it up at each restaurant I stop at. 

Overall, would I recommend UberEATS?

Definitely! Being paid to exercise? It’s a win-win and I love cycling! Since Ubering, I have noticed an improvement to my overall fitness, mental health and sleep! The only downside is that sometimes I lose a whole evening to take home less than the national minimum wage, but this can be avoided by learning when to go online. 

Although Uber takes a hefty 25% cut of your earnings, their support centre however is very good. You can contact them on the road and receive an instant reply. Your only commitment is to deliver the food and to be polite on both ends.

So, if you are a student with a bike looking to earn some extra money in Egham you can expect to earn between £8 and £25 per hour being your own boss. Sign up with my referral code L89XCV and if you’ve got any questions, feel free to DM me.