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'They do not pay unless you enter their home': female food delivery drivers denounce sexual abuse

Some clients welcome workers naked and threaten to rate them badly if they are not satisfied


09 April 2021 11:30 AM


ACN | Barcelona

Female food delivery drivers have spoken out about experiences of sexual abuse when dropping off food at people’s homes. 

The trade union CCOO found out what was happening after conducting a survey which they presented on Thursday. The Catalan News Agency (ACN) has confirmed their findings after speaking to some employees who had become victims of abuse.

For instance, Ana Mesones, who worked in the sector for six years for companies such as Deliveroo until she quit two months ago, said that "more than 10%" of the time that she entered peoples' homes for work she received inappropriate comments often about explicit sexual intentions.

She also said that when this happened, she felt "unprotected in every sense," because the platforms "always wash their hands" of any complaints coming from their own employees.

Indeed, sources from Glovo told ACN that they have a policy of "zero tolerance to sexual abuse or discrimination," but did not clarify what steps are followed to protect their drivers. Deliveroo and Uber Eats declined commenting.

Mesones explained that when completing some orders, sometimes she would be welcomed by men saying: "Why don’t you come in and have a beer with me?"

  • "These situations are very uncomfortable because you find yourself in an unfamilair home, but it reaches a point where it becomes normal"

    Ana Mesones · Former courier

When the employees refuse, sometimes clients take the food off them and say that if they will not enter their home, they will not pay. "You are aware that if they do not pay, you will have to do so on their behalf, because the customer has all the power," she added.

"Premeditated abuse"

Sometimes, according to her and others working in the sector who spoke to ACN, this is a "premeditated abuse," because with most apps the client has access to a picture of the person delivering their food and will know if it is a woman – something that both CCOO and food delivery drivers argue puts women at risk.

In some cases, said Mesones, some customers have even threatened her saying: "If you don’t do whatever I want, I will rate you badly."

"An old man who is home alone tells you to come in and leave the order in the kitchen, and you do it in good faith. But when you turn around, he has his gown open and is showing you whatever he desires. These situations are very uncomfortable because you find yourself in an unfamiliar home, but it reaches a point where it becomes normal," she explained, saying it is common that clients welcome them wearing just boxers.

CCOO also reports that food delivery drivers who have been rated badly after refusing to satisfy their clients' requests have been unable to work for the following three days due to the complaint.

What can be done to avoid these situations?

The Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police said there are no reports of such behavior in their records, and insisted that sexual abuse "always" has to be brought to the police and people must give up as as many details as possible of their attacker.

Labour rights lawyer Laura Rodríguez explained to ACN that the "patriarchal judicial system" wants to make victims believe that nothing will change even if they go to the police, something that Mesones expressed her agreement with. Indeed, she emphasized that she is never left with evidence of such encounters and that she cannot record images because that could be "counterproductive."

Rodríguez also expressed that if a home delivery platform is alerted of such attitudes, the first thing that they should do is ban the customer from making future orders.


  • Image of a food delivery driver in Barcelona, on April 8, 2021 (by Ivette Lehmann)

  • Image of a food delivery driver in Barcelona, on April 8, 2021 (by Ivette Lehmann)