On September 19, some San Diego-based Bird chargers were surprised to open up their work app to a bunch of $3 Bird symbols. Adam, who catches about ten Bird motorized scooters a night by Pacific Beach, said he received the “bad news” via email.
“Why are birds only worth $3 now?” he asked Bird’s support.
He said their response was: “Happy to explain more. The prices will still be varying, but the minimum will just be lower. This should give you a broader variety of Birds to capture. Also, be sure to keep charging and releasing by 7 am to get even more power supplies and increase your charging capacity!”
I spoke with Adam via direct message on September 21. “The 40 percent cut was insulting,” he said. “Chargers make the business run and without them Birds would sit powerless.”
Another charger from PB posted a meme online that read “A new low? SD chargers will now earn $3 a Bird — lowered from $8 and $7 to $5 — now $3.”
Bird chargers from Riverside chimed into the thread and said their maps had $3 Bird-bounties as well; another catcher said “All of California was hit.”
Adam amongst other chargers, decided to “Birdcott.”
“There is a boycott,” Adam said, “and chargers are not working and the streets are full of $3 birds all night versus the streets usually being picked clean by 10 pm.”
Andrew Stutz, 28, from North Park — didn’t “Birdcott.”
“This is an unused nest that was available to be picked up to charge,” he said. “Last night (September 20) I found five [nests] like this.” He then sent me a photo via direct message of his white truck (with a modified longer bed to accommodate more share-scooters) filled with Birds parked by eight additional Birds on the sidewalk.
Just days before, Stutz captured, charged, and released 70 Birds in one night for a $410.75 payout; earlier that same week he processed 71 Birds and brought home $445.58.
“That night, I was able to capture 46 in about 1.5 hours then I went out after midnight and somehow found another 22 in under a hour,” Stutz said, “I am mostly looking in Old Town, Mission Hills, Mission Valley and the North Park alleys. The interesting thing is Bird states in their contract that they don’t pay out for above 20 scooters, charged per day; but I have always done so.”
Stutz is not too concerned about Bird’s new $3 price. “I am a charger for both Lime and Bird (and also drives for Lyft),” he said, “so since Lime is still at a base pay of $7 each the combination leads to pretty great pay for short amount of work.”
Adam’s a SDSU student and has been charging since April. On his best day, he was able to capture 20 birds; he got paid $110. “Now, all birds are $3, some go up to $3.75, but $5 birds don’t show up until past midnight. I’d rather charge ten birds for $50 than 17 birds for $51. I’m not going to spend time to walk, ride and drive to go look for Birds. The [Bird] community is very upset and they feel stepped on.”
I found Josh Fabean, a Kansas City-based Bird charger, with his girlfriend at Hospitality Point in Mission Bay — both were riding Birds. “It does stink and it’s not worth it for me to pick them up at $3. [Back home] I usually wait until 3 am to pick them up at $10 each. They’ve only been in Kansas City for less than two months so there’s not that much competition catching Birds. They were still at $5 the last time I checked.”
The most Fabean made in one night out of his SUV is $200; he left his Bird charger cables back home. “If you don’t like the $3 bounties, don’t pick them up for $3,” he suggested.
Stutz’s Bird hunting excursions are posted on his “Ride Into Cash” personal blogs and social media accounts.
His last post was: “Yeaaaahhh can’t stop won’t stop. Just keep charging. Lowered rates suck but still okay money if you work out of truck and can do volume.” The September 20 post depicted a photo of his 20-or-so Bird haul for that night.
“Many people who follow my YouTube channel and Instagram, have been commenting on boycotting [Bird] with hopes it’ll make a difference,” Stutz said. “I don’t believe it will make any significant impact on prices.”
Adam, although, has already “flew the coop.” “I will look at other companies such as Razor and Lime, but as of now I won’t spend effort for Bird. The Razor scooters look bulky and heavy (a pain to move). I’ll see if they put more in my area to make it worth signing up for.”
Stutz considered the Razor company. “After looking on Razors’ website, they do not have sub contractors doing the work, but “community partners” (employees).”