Uber Delivery Workers in Mexico Are Tracking Thieves Through Google Maps and WhatsApp Networks

A 1,000-person WhatsApp community keeps delivery workers safe

Martha Pskowski
OneZero
Published in
9 min readDec 11, 2019

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Illustration: Glenn Harvey

OnOn a recent Tuesday night, Luisa Amezquita, a Rappi company delivery worker, was headed home after her last drop-off of the evening when her motorcycle broke down. She was miles from home, and nervous. So she reached out for the only help she could think of.

“Is anyone awake? I’ve been trying to get home since 10 p.m. and still I haven’t made it,” she texted to a WhatsApp group of women food delivery workers in Mexico City. Stephanie Rojas, who manages the WhatsApp group, started making phone calls.

Rojas contacted Saúl Gómez of the collective Ni un repartidor menos (Not one more delivery worker killed), who sent out alerts to other WhatsApp groups of cyclists and motorcyclists around the city to look for Luisa. Shortly after sending her S.O.S., Luisa had gone silent — she wasn’t picking up calls or answering messages. Ni un repartidor menos’ members, who deliver for Uber Eats, Rappi, DiDi, and Sin Delantal, started looking for a woman pushing a motorcycle.

Finally, around 9 a.m., she came back online. Her phone had died just after sending her distress message, but she had made it home safe.

Delivery workers across Mexico are under severe pressure. Fatal crashes are a known risk, and reports of robberies are practically a daily occurrence. To protect themselves and each other, delivery workers are turning to messaging apps and social networks to document grievances and rally for change.

To feel safe while making risky deliveries, workers are more likely to depend on each other than company staff on a hotline.

Rappi, DiDi, and Uber offer support hotlines that delivery people can call if they are injured or have a problem with a client. Sin Delantal offers a chat service. Uber and Rappi both have insurance plans that cover medical expenses and life insurance in certain cases, and an Uber spokesperson tells OneZero that safety is a top priority. “We invest in protections including in-app features, road-safety partnerships, and robust…

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