Recently, New York Times reporter Andy Newman spent a few days riding his bike as a deliverer for popular home delivery app DoorDash, which picks up food from any to-go restaurant to bring to your door. Crunching the numbers after his short stint, he noticed something about his payouts. DoorDash wasn’t playing nice with customers’ tips.

From its launch in 2013, DoorDash has used a pay model that has used tips to supplement what they call “base pay,” typically only $1 per delivery. No one is delivering food for a dollar, so the company promises a “guaranteed minimum” on each delivery which is calculated by an algorithm to encourage prompt service. These days, the guaranteed minimum is $6.85.

For Newman’s first order, the recipient tipped $3 via the DoorDash app, but he still only received DoorDash’s minimum payout of $6.85. If the recipient had tipped zero, the company still would have paid him $6.85. What that means is that DoorDash only paid $3.85 to Newman. She was saving DoorDash $3, not adding to Newman’s earnings.

This was not clear at all, and even now it’s only shown in fine print on the app’s website.

CEO Tony Xu defends this pay model, saying that it puts a priority on “consistency of earnings.”

But after Newman’s article brought viral attention to the practice, deliverers and customers alike have expressed outrage about the practice, calling it deceptive. While DoorDash explains the process on its website, no such explanation is forthcoming on the app with which most users interact.

In the wake of this outrage, DoorDash has declared that it will cease the practice.

“Going forward,” said Xu on Twitter on July 23, DoorDash “will ensure that Dashers’ earnings will increase by the exact amount a customer tips on every order.”

The change has not yet been implemented, nor have more specifics been released. Skeptics assume that DoorDash will abandon their guaranteed earning promises in lieu of tricking customers into paying them.

For some, even if DoorDash does the right thing going forward, it’s already too late.

“So are you going to return all the tips you stole from poor delivery drivers over the past year?” asked Vanity Fair writer Nick Bilton on Twitter. Xu has yet to respond.

Photo by David Tonelson /