Explaining Instacart Shopper New Pickup Hours and Lower Rates
It was announced last month that Instacart would be moving away from scheduling hours to pickup only, just like other delivery services such as Postmates and Caviar. Before the change, you would choose your availability and then you get a schedule based on that availability, with the best shoppers getting the best hours. This heavily favors either older Instacart shoppers or better shoppers, which potentially could shut out new shoppers. However, Instacart have been giving preference to new shoppers both in scheduling and also batch assignments. According to a few reports by shoppers, new shoppers are given “Early Access” for the first four weeks so are more likely to pick the hours they like.
There is also some large differences from the new rates Instacart sent out last month to the actual rates posted in the Instacart app for next week. See below for more information on that.
Instacart is moving to a pickup-only type of scheduling system where you pick the hours you want, if it is available. For those shoppers who don’t get enough hours, they know all about picking up hours like myself. I typically pick up about 12-15 hours a week during daytime hours. Over the past month, more and more shoppers had to pick up hours on their own because they didn’t have enough hours or weren’t scheduled at all.
Here are the requirements for early access:
As you can see, I did not qualify for “Early Access” but I may consider working on the weekends to get it. There is no way I’ll be working 30 hours a week every week to try to get early access and I will explain later.
New Scheduling: Peak Days (aka Flames)
When they announced the new pricing system, they made it seem that “Peak Days” rates were higher and that they would mostly occur in Sundays and Mondays. However, there was language in the original announcement that said that rates can vary by demand and other factors. Well, now I have some preliminary rates for Seattle on “Peak Days” and “Non Peak Days.”
Below you will see the Peak days for Seattle. I would note that these “flames” may change from week to week. Expect busy days like Thanksgiving and Holidays to have flames on them.
New Scheduling: New Lower Pay Rates
It is definitely not what it seems. As you can see in the above pictures, there is one flame on Tuesday, Saturday and two flames for Monday. I thought this would be the case in Seattle since Monday seems to be so much busier than Sunday.
Here are the pay rates for Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (non peak day):
Here is a quick comparison of the rates:
FS = Full Service, DO = Delivery Only
- Peak Day (2 flames) – $8.65 FS / $5.55 DO
- Peak Day (1 flame) – $8.35 / $6.50 DO
- Non Peak Day (Thurs) – $9.05 / $5.65 DO
- Non Peak Day (Wed/Fri) – $9.85 / $5.25 DO
- All dates $0.40 an item in Seattle
- All bumps are the same (Costco, Large order ($200+), 14+ mile delivery all at +$5 for any day)
You can find these rates if you picked up any hours next week and if the new pricing system goes live next week in your city. If you have picked up any hours, on top of the schedule, you will see a small section on top for pricing. Click on the line with the two flames to see the pricing.
You can quickly see that there is no almost no rhyme or reason for the prices. You would expect prices to be higher on a peak day than a non peak day, but it isn’t. You would also expect rates to be higher on a Monday than say a Thursday. It all differs by as much as $0.70 so it’ll only add up to a few dollars on a full 8 hour shift anyway, but the small differences annoy us. Here is what they originally claimed the rates to be last month for peak and non peak days in Seattle:
As you can see, the new rates are nowhere near as high as originally proposed. We were all hoping that the above rates would be the base and then go up from there if there is significant income from the service fee. We see that these rates are probably as high as they will ever be on some special cases and that the new variable rates are often much lower.
New Scheduling – Picking up Hours
Over the past week, Instacart have been changing the application to say pickup hours instead of scheduling. The new scheduling process went live on Sunday with shoppers qualifying for “Early Access” having the first experience with picking up hours. I didn’t qualify, so I had to wait until this morning at 9am in order to get access.
The system is similar to what it is today, just that now you have to choose all your hours. I often pick up hours, especially for my weekly Monday weekday hours. Here are some tips to pick up hours:
- You need to be ready with the application on at 8:58 or 8:59am. Refresh frequently just before 9am in order to get to the screen early. Go after your most important day and then go from there. In about 30 seconds, most of the blocks were taken up so you gotta be quick and know which hours you want to work.
- If you have two phones, you can get another person to log in with a different phone and hunt for a different day right at 9am. You can try to do it yourself. I may attempt it in a few weeks when I need a lot of hours.
- Make sure to have good reception. It may be good to be home with Wifi to do it, but I was in between rides on Lyft so I did it with cell reception.
- If you don’t get the hours you want, keep checking back throughout the day. It seems random when either new blocks are available or when people drop blocks. Sometimes it is very early in the morning where a few people dropped out and they need more people.
- If you are free during the day, check back throughout the day for hours. There may be someone last minute that drops a block. I have seen a few 2-hour blocks available just a few minutes before the start of the shift.
- If you watch the application for an entire day, chances are you maybe able to pick up enough hours for the week. It really takes persistence.
- If you worked on Amazon Flex and good at picking up blocks, Instacart should be much easier. Available blocks usually take anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours to get picked up since not everyone check it as often as Amazon Flex couriers check their applications.
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