Robert Kinlaw tries out JoyRun, a new food delivery app at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill that bills itself as Uber for food.
Above, photo by Kevin Ziechmann for the Charlotte Observer.
A few weeks ago, I was walking across campus when I came across something beautiful: two guys with a table set up on the quad, giving free pizza to anyone who would install their new app. It was called JoyRun.
JoyRun describes itself as “a peer to peer delivery platform which enables anyone in the community to help out their fellow students.” The reps told me it was something like Uber for food delivery.
Right now, it’s available at UNC and Duke. Students can offer to make “runs” to various restaurants, or students can express interest in having a particular restaurant delivered to them. If a run gets enough interest, a runner can take everyone’s order and pick up the food, delivering it to each participating student. The runner makes money from delivering, and the students get food delivered to their doors.
Last Thursday, I decided to give JoyRun a shot and write about it for the readers of College Town. What I learned is that JoyRun itself is a well-designed, promising app. The experiences it generates, however, will vary based on who you connect with.
9:19 p.m. – My stomach is rumbling for some guac, so I request a run to Chipotle, one of the restaurants I see delivered most frequently on JoyRun.
9:41 p.m. – About 20 minutes later, only one other person is interested in buying Chipotle and no one is interested in driving there so far. Back on the main JoyRun screen, I see that there are five potential buyers for Bojangles’, so I cancel my Chipotle request and join that one instead.
10:08 p.m. – I receive a notification from JoyRun saying that the run is about to take place, asking me to give my order to the driver. I place my order and put in my credit card information via the app’s interface, a painless and streamlined process.
10:26 p.m. – The app informs me that my delivery driver is just now on the way to Bojangles’, and the estimated delivery time is an hour away at 11:25 p.m.
11:14 p.m. – The driver arrives to my house about 10 minutes before schedule. There are french fries spilled in the floorboard of his car. My Bojangles’ box has been opened; the driver says he had to open it to make sure it was my specific order, and he hands it to me without closing it. Then he tells me that he spilled some of my tea, apologizes and hands me the half-full cup with no further explanation. He does not offer a discount or reimbursement of any kind. I ask if I can get one, and he says he will talk to the people at JoyRun who can give me a discount.
Two days later – JoyRun has not contacted me, so I email the company and explain the situation. They very quickly refund my order and give me two extra dollars of credit to use on the app.
It was around one hour and 35 minutes from the time I was hungry to when I received my food.
The overall cost was $10.94, which included the cost of the food, tax, the runner’s fee and a $0.50 service fee. I only paid $5.94, though, because of a promotion offering $5.00 off for the first order.
Although my food had been opened and my drink spilled, JoyRun’s customer service was very quick to refund me and apologize for the situation.
I believe my experience does a particularly good job of showcasing JoyRun’s biggest challenge: The quality of the delivery is dependent on random college students, not JoyRun employees.
Companies like Takeout Central can hold their drivers accountable since they’re employees. The drivers for JoyRun aren’t employees. They’re students like you and me — which is the bread and butter of the app, both its greatest strength and weakness. It’s something you should be aware of if you’re using the app.
Fortunately, JoyRun is addressing that challenge with good customer support. Co-founder Shama Pagarkar told me in an email that if an issue arises, the buyer and runner are encouraged to try settling it first. If they can’t reach a fair agreement, JoyRun support can step in to make sure both parties are satisfied.
JoyRun is a cool concept worth checking out, particularly with $5 off the first order. For the app to be successful in the long run, the company will have to keep its customer service quick and dependable.