Instead of cooking dinner the other night, I decided to open up an app instead.
It originally started out as a general delivery service, but seems to be geared more toward food these days. That puts it into a crowded category along with sites like Seamless, Grubhub, and Caviar (which was bought by payments company Square last August.)
The company’s web site claims they will deliver from “any restaurant or store” in under an hour.
But there should also be an asterisk next to that claim. I looked for my neighbourhood pizza place, and it did come up in the app, but in name only. There was no menu or anything else.
In fact, there are tons of restaurants that you can order from with a “custom order,” but you have no idea how much your order will cost, or how much delivery will be, until after you’ve ordered. That will probably deter anyone who’s budget-conscious.
But scrolling through Postmates’ “menu” shows that they really do deliver from a ton of places. There are chains like Starbucks and Chipotle, as well as local spots I like.
Postmates also had its own “Liquor Store” with craft beer, wine, and a decent selection of spirits. There are startups that only deliver alcohol, but it’s nice to have everything you’d need in one app.
There’s also a “General Store,” which seems like a set of pharmacies that Postmates partners with, should you need toothpaste or soda.
I decided to order food from three different places that were listed in the app, just to make sure I knew what I’d be getting and how much I’d be paying. I wasn’t sure if all my orders would come at once, like an Amazon package, or if I’d get three separate deliveries a la Instacart.
When I started placing my order, I quickly realised this was going to be more complicated than I thought. Each place constitutes a separate order. That makes it easier on Postmates — you don’t have one delivery person trekking all over the city — but also means I’d be paying three delivery charges.
I decided on Chinese food, BBQ wings, and beer, just to keep it healthy.
After you place your order, you can track it in real time. It’s like waiting for an Uber to arrive, only more accurate.
Postmates also tells you if there’s a problem with your order. I got a text from one of my Postmates, Zac, who let me know that my wings were going to take longer than expected. I appreciated the heads up. If Zac had called me, like some workers for the Instacart grocery-shopping service do when they can’t find an order, it would have been kind of annoying.
My beer came first. Not surprising, since there wasn’t any preparation involved.
When you get a delivery, you sign a digital receipt with your finger. You can also tip your Postmate if you’re especially pleased with the service.
The Chinese food came next. But even the wings, which Zac told me were delayed, came in less than an hour. I wonder if that would hold up if I had ordered from a more popular restaurant on a weekend.
There’s no arguing that Postmates is convenient if you’re looking for delivery. But there are a couple things about my experience that weren’t so great.
It’s expensive. There was no delivery fee on my beer, but delivery on my food cost about $US15, combined. That makes a ton of sense if you’re ordering for 20 people in an office, but it’s a little steep for one person.
But if I want something quick, I would definitely use Postmates again. Its selection and sleek-looking app gives it an edge over companies like Seamless and Grubhub, in my opinion — at least until UberFresh takes off.