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Instacart Retaliates Against Shoppers Discussing Service Fees

Instacart Retaliates Against Shoppers Discussing Service Fees

About three months ago, Instacart announced plans to replace the tip option with a service fee, which would be distributed to shoppers through a higher base fee. Many shoppers quickly noticed that this wasn’t exactly true and that our earnings would drop between 30-50% since half of our earnings come from tips. Instacart’s initial announcement stated that there would be no official way to tip the shoppers through the application. Shoppers instantly banded together and notified customers of the change that they would no longer be able to tip shoppers directly. Many customers called in and wrote to Instacart that they did not like the changes. Instacart shoppers also planned a strike when the new changes went into effect.

You can read more about it here:

Instacart felt the pressure from customers and shoppers and decided to reinstate the tip option, but they also purposely hid the option to tip and also lowered the base pay in retribution against shoppers. They have also stopped changing the service fee to a tip after the order has been placed. These actions are clear that Instacart fully intends to profit from service fees in the hopes of making the company profitable in the near future.

Instacart Shoppers have continued to be unhappy about the service fee Instacart is imposing on shoppers, which is essentially stealing our tips. There was an organized strike in the few days leading up to Thanksgiving:

The strike worked in a few major cities. Some shoppers who went in to various Whole Foods during the strike saw the staging area for DO (delivery only) orders was completely full of bags. One shopper in particular went into the store around midnight and saw them still full to the brim. Other shoppers noted that there were repeated requests from Instacart to pick up shifts and/or to extend their current shifts. In other cities, some shoppers who were on-shift noted that they were slower than usual, which meant that the local team successfully overstaffed the schedules to reduce the effect of any strike.

Instacart Shoppers Fight Back Against the Service Fee

Since the change, every Instacart shopper have been educating customers about the optional service fee. They are explaining to customers that the service fee isn’t going directly to shoppers nor is it completely shared by all shoppers either. The only way to compensate us directly is to tip us through the application or in cash. In order to do that, we are telling them to zero out the service fee (which is optional) and to include a tip on the order.

Some shoppers have been putting in flyers into each delivery to help educate customers about the new service fee. For some shoppers, they are not able to speak directly to the person who is ordering the groceries so the flyers help to educate the customers. About 1/3 of my deliveries are either unattended or delivered to a housekeeper but the percentage can be much higher for shoppers in other cities, such as Los Angeles.

Instacart is countering this movement by refusing to refund the service fee and also telling customers that the service fee is going to the shoppers.They make the argument that the service fee is going to the shoppers and there is no need to tip them directly. There have been a few shoppers who was also on the phone with Shopper Happiness and heard the lies that Instacart tells to customers.

Instacart Retaliates Against Shoppers Discussing Service Fees

Instacart is probably aware that a majority of shoppers now is skipping the optional service fee and some of them are putting in tips. Instacart is noticing the loss of revenue and is back to their normal tactics to scare shoppers into submission. Before the strike two months ago, they had deactivated a few shoppers, mainly focusing in on their reliability scores and other metrics to dissuade other shoppers from joining in on the strike.

Instacart has been cracking down on shoppers who are leaving flyers in the deliveries. They have also been giving warnings to shoppers who do this and some even go as far as to threaten shoppers who are speaking to shoppers. Instacart is claiming that they are getting “complaints” from customers. None of these complaints are showing up on our shopper accounts so these are just plain threats. However, many shoppers have received 5 star comments complaining about how Instacart is misleading and confusing customers about the service fee.

Instacart has also been deactivating some shoppers who are notifying customers of the service fee. I have only heard of a few shoppers getting deactivated and they claim that they are getting complaints from customers.

What if Instacart Threatens You?

These tactics won’t prevent me from telling customers about the service fee. There is almost no way they can prove it if it came to it and I don’t mind getting deactivated if it helps other shoppers. I would continue to verbally tell my customers about the service fee. At a minimum, I always tell my customers that the service fee is optional so even if they don’t leave a tip, they will at least take money from Instacart. I also tell them that they can tip me under the service fee and it seems to be working thus far.

If you receive threats from Instacart, make sure to speak to Arns Law Group. They are the ones handling the lawsuit against Instacart. Multiple shoppers have already emailed them about the situation but emailing them will let them know how many are being intimidated by Instacart.

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