Burritos on Wheels: Can the "Uber of Stuff" Avoid the Rideshare's Legal Woes?

If you're in the game of connecting folks with money (and no desire to leave home) with merchandise, the world is your burrito.

Enter Postmates. Labeling itself the "Uber of Stuff," the year-old San Francisco start-up boasts many of that company's investors. As Uber transforms drivers into de facto cabbies, Postmates renders anyone a de facto courier: Order an item and a "Postmate" in the area will pick it up and deliver it. Director of Operations Ashley Brown confirms burritos and booze remain extremely popular. But appliances and electronics are delivered as well. Some locals even preen online about tasking a Postmate to feed the meter.

An algorithm determines the delivery fee; a Mission-to-the Marina run costs less than a shlep to the Sunset. Couriers glean 70 to 80 percent of the fee.

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Brown said the onus is on these contractors to spurn suspicious items (which is a lot to ask of someone working on commission). Also, she had no problem declaring a Postmates fatwa on live animals or medical marijuana.

Time will tell if the Uber of Stuff can elude Uber's legal woes; Brown didn't specify contractors' insurance requirements, noting only "they have personal insurance and the company is insured."

If a lawsuit arises, we know a service that'll deliver the necessary papers. And burritos.

 
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