Instacart Town Halls and the Disconnect from Reality
Over the past three months, Instacart held three live webinars called “Town Hall Meetings,” giving Instacart shoppers an opportunity to participate in a controlled meeting setting with a panelist of Instacart corporate employees. Specific topics were assigned for each meeting and selected questions were chosen from Instacart shopper submissions. At the end if time allowed, shoppers were allowed to type in questions as well. During the first meeting, I was shopping a batch at Whole Foods while I listened in. Actually being on the job made me feel a little disconnected to the Instacart corporate message since I was having issues with the batch I was shopping at the time. Apoorva, the Instacart’s CEO, was on the panel and he opened the meeting with an attempt at a heart warming story sharing his vision about when he started Instacart and how he was the very first shopper. Although I feel his attempt was genuine, his words haven’t always been trickling down into actions and better working conditions for the very people who make up this company. I must say that I am still happy and grateful for the Instacart opportunity, and my personal experience is that the good still outweighs the bad. But I, along with my fellow Instacart shoppers, would like to see more realistic changes and words that actually translate into better working conditions for Instacart shoppers.
A WALK IN AN INSTACART SHOPPERS’ SHOES
Apoorva explained that when a corporate employee is hired, they go out into the field and shops batches just as an Instacart shopper does so they have the full shopper experience. I thought this was a wonderful idea, but then I truly pondered what types of shopping experiences do they encounter? All of our shopping days aren’t perfect, and I feel they could better serve us if given some of the recurring challenges most of us experience at least once on a daily basis, and walking in our shoes could possibly give them some different problem solving skills. Just a few that come to mind:
- Once you accept and open a double batch at Costco, you find that it’s 20 cases of water along with other items and you won’t be able to fit all of it into your vehicle.
- You arrive at the customer’s address with 20 cases of water and discover the apartment is on the 18th floor at the back end of the hall. No bell carts are available, and you don’t have a cart (your fault but many new shoppers wouldn’t know to get one)
- A 3 item batch is offered, the distance is 10 miles, and the customer doesn’t tip you.
- You are standing at check out with a huge order, ice cream melting and the Instacart Credit Card declines. You call Shopper Happiness and are on hold for 30 minutes.
- You shop a huge batch, attempt to deliver and can’t reach the customer. Food is sitting out in the weather conditions and again you find yourself on hold with Shopper Happiness for 30 min.
- You are given a 45 item batch with customer notes on every single item. Many requested items are out of stock, and the customer notes “not to replace without contacting,” but you can’t get a hold of them. You panic because your elusive 5 star bonus is on the line, and the order will be very late.
Are there other scenarios that you fellow Instacart shoppers feel would be beneficial for Corporate Shoppers to experience as they attempt to walk in our shoes?
I’M STILL ON HOLD??
A question I was relieved to hear addressed, was about the excessively long hold times Instacart shoppers have experienced over the past few months. Nothing is worse than the need to reach Shopper Happiness immediately due to a credit card decline, missing customer or other pressing issue than to find yourself on a long hold. Other times when calling, a message was given that due to excessive hold times, please e-mail shopper happiness and then the line would disconnect! We have basically been left to fend for ourselves in the wilderness with inefficient tools and high expectations to meet
I discovered that by blocking my number, I would get an answer right away since SH doesn’t know if you’re a customer or shopper. A few times they were apprehensive about helping me since they were only “trained to help customers” but when I insisted they help due to an urgent issue they suddenly knew what to do! Then Instacart sent out an that email asking shoppers not to call from a blocked number since it holds up the lines and makes the wait times even longer.
However, I give Instacart credit for taking full responsibility for this issue. A panelist admitted that they got it wrong, and didn’t project correctly for new growth. Instacart claimed back in April they doubled their staffing and reached 150 support team members. In order to improve the quality of support, Instacart implemented a three-week training program for newer support members and Quality Assurance classes for all staff.
In the months following this promise, I experienced wait times that would dip and rise, but quite recently the wait times have been significantly shorter. However, I feel the quality of service and the knowledge of Shopper Happiness has not improved. What experience have you fellow Instacart Shoppers had lately calling into SH?
THE MILLION DOLLAR TIP QUESTION
I was excited to hear questions regarding tipping during the first Town Hall. A Shopper asked about Instacart’s philosophy on shopper pay and the money collected from service amounts. Instacart’s response:
- Instacart believes all shoppers need to be treated fairly and good. It’s important that Instacart pay Shoppers fairly, consistently and competitively.
- Shoppers earnings were very inconsistent and the service amount helps to create more fairness and consistency.
- We do acknowledge that things could have been done better in the roll-out of the service amount and now have a team working to improve the structure.
- Every single dollar we collect on the service fee is payed to the shopper.
Instacart believes that customers should receive their experience before they are prompted to tip. The customer now receives a prompt to rate and tip after their order is completed. The shopper’s profile picture and options to rate and tip as a percentage of the order are included. Instacart claims that this new procedure has produced more tips. I have seen a rise in my tips over the last few months, but I’m not sure if I can attribute it to the new prompt or the fact that I run my mouth to every customer about the tip and service charge and give them a wave and save flyer? The service charge option still confuses shoppers and can limits the tip amount at the end if the customer was already tricked into paying it. Since Instacart claims that “every single dollar collected on the service fee is payed to shoppers”, why not remove it entirely and just let the customer tip? Please remember to inform your customers they can still rate and tip AFTER you’ve completed their order. This will have a great impact on your income!
DON’T GO THE DISTANCE
A question was presented about being sent long distances for small batches, and the Instacart reply was quite shocking. The panel explained that shoppers who have the fastest speed will be sent longer distances because they will be able to shop the order and deliver faster! You actually can be penalized and lose money if you’re faster! I recommend keeping a decent shopping speed in order to receive more batches and utilize your income earning potential during a shift, but by no means aim to be the fastest shopper in your zone.
Stay tuned as I update Shoppers with new changes that are rolled-out and vital topics that are discussed at the next Town Hall Meeting.Have more questions about Uber or Lyft? Head on over to our Rideshare Driver Training Course! Driver Promotions