We are the Instacart Shoppers, and have a few things to say. We get it, you’re in business and here to make a profit. We won’t hold that against you, but Forbes estimates that your company brings in $2 billion revenue annually, and that the firm serves half a million customers. A major disconnect is widening between you and the very people who produce this income by personally shopping and delivering orders to your customers.
You drew us in with promises of perks of an Independent Contractor. There was a promise of flexible schedules that we could edit without restrictions, promise of $25 an hour, and the freedom from many restrictions that go along with a typical 9-5 Job. For those of us who have been around for a few years, we’ve seen these perks slowly disappear, manipulated and a few no longer exist. We have a 1099 status, yet you hold us accountable to the standards of an employee without benefits.
Our complaints are valid and plentiful, but these are a few of the main issues that need to be heard:
- Deceitful tipping practices
- No regulations on bulk orders
- Diminishing pay
- An allusive bonus that sets up for failure
- Unrealistic expectations and pressure put on Instacart Shoppers
Where’s the tip Instacart?
This has been our mantra since October 2016 when you tried to remove the tip line from the Shopper App. Due to organization of Instacart Shoppers nationwide, you decided to keep the Tip button but hid it behind a “Service Fee” making it extremely difficult and confusing for customers to tip. You also included this deceitful verbiage claiming that Instacart shoppers would still benefit from the service fee, and making it sound as if it’s the responsibility of your customers to pay our wages. Our wages have been anything but competitive and have decreased since instituting the service fee last year. It appears the Service Fee is just a way to funnel another profit stream to your bottom line at the expense of your hard working Instacart Shoppers.
“Instacart uses the service amount to provide competitive pay to all shoppers working with Instacart. Unlike a tip, which can only go to the shopper delivering your order, a service amount allows us to pay all shoppers(including those, for example, that also pick out ordered items in the store)”
We became savvy and created a “Waive and Save” flyer as a way to explain to our customers how to avoid paying the Service fee and Tip us as most people intended to do anyway before the confusion. You then upgraded the shopper Agreement to include verbiage threatening deactivation if we “harass” customers for a tip. Why should we have to educate our customers daily on how to Tip us? Will you please make it easier for us to be tipped fairly and earn a living wage?
We are not movers
A picture inside the Instacart Shopper App shows a shopper casually bringing a bouquet of flowers and one bag of groceries to a customer with a child. It makes our job look fun, carefree and that we provide a valuable service for people who need our help. This scenario can be valid at times, but more often than not we’ve become bulk shoppers for offices and businesses, and you’ve done nothing to regulate or protect us. Our bodies and vehicles have taken the brunt from your profits on these large orders. We are paid .40 per item, regardless of how many units there are. So if I have an order for 10 cases of water at Costco, I’m paid .40 plus whatever the batch fee is that day, and I’m crossing my fingers in hopes the customer can navigate the obstacles to give me a Tip. Can we please do something about this and set some regulations and higher pay for these types of orders? Or at least give us transparency about these batches before we accept and give us the opportunity to decline without penalty if we choose?
We don’t have forklifts, trucks, dollies or the proper protective equipment to handle bulk orders, yet a customer can go online and place an order for 50–lbs of sugar or 20 cases of water and we are expected to shop and deliver them. Often these cases of water are on the 18th floor of an office building and they don’t tip! I once received a double batch at Costco for 18 cases of water and the second customer’s order contained 40 items. I knew it wasn’t a possible to fit all of this in my small car so I reached out to SH and was on hold for 20 minutes. I made a decision to refund half the water order and I explained to the customer that otherwise their entire order wouldn’t fit in my car.
You’re going to pay me what?
Why do you continue to lower our batch rates, and the price of Delivery Only orders? If we aren’t tipped on the confusing App, your shoppers may be working for less than minimum wage. How is this Ok with you, and can we please take a look at this?
Let’s talk about Delivery Only for a moment. Today in Hollywood, the DO rate is $3.05 per order and it’s $5.50 in the San Fernando Valley. This does happen often, so lets say I have a 2 bag DO from the Wholefoods at Fairfax and 3rd, and the delivery location is way up on Mulholland Drive. I drive all the way up the mountain taking about 30 minutes from my shift for the round trip, the customer doesn’t tip and I’m left with a payment of $3.05, wear and tear on my vehicle and this order actually ends up costing me money in gas! Granted, sometimes these DO orders may work out in our favor. I may have 4 or 5 batches to deliver and the customers actually tip, but what we find with these orders is that we are driving from one end of our coverage Zone to the other and it’s still not profitable after all.
We are set up to Fail
Let’s talk about the elusive bonus for a moment, and the almost impossible standards you have set for us to meet. If the planets do align correctly for the week, we are overjoyed because we went to such great links to achieve it. We may have a great week and perfect score, but one Sunday afternoon a customer doesn’t like the tomatoes that an In Store Shopper chose for them, and we lose our 5 Star Bonus. There are many issues we’d love to see resolved with the bonus criteria, but our biggest beef is still as to why we are connected to the In Store Shopper and share a rating? I work hard all week providing exceptional service and maintain a 5 Star Rating, yet I can lose my bonus due to another person not doing their job? Or to be fair, I can also lose my bonus due to a ridiculous rating from a customer that just didn’t like their salad from the salad bar.
We’d like to see changes to the criteria of the 5 Star Bonus such as:
- Separating us from the In Store Shopper’s ratings.
- Preventing fraudulent customer claims of missing or damaged items to affect our rating.
- A rating system setup that allows us to make a few mistakes and still have a chance to earn our bonus since human error does occur.
- Transparency with our ratings so we know which customers gave us a poor score and the reason why so that we can improve if necessary.
We’re not Super-Heroes
We just want to make sure we’re clear on our expectations. Instacart shoppers are expected to provide exceptional customer service, reach out to customers about replacement or missing items, not damage any items in the shopping and delivery process,navigate busy stores, deal with slow or long lines at checkout, battle extreme traffic and search for parking upon delivering orders, deal with missing customers at times and all within the time frame that you feel is realistic or we risk deactivation? And all this while we’re trying to maintain a perfect 5 star rating for our bonus?
You’re not looking for Instacart Shoppers, you’re looking for superheros!
To be fair, there are things that work within your system and we still can work a short shift, enjoy providing service for our customers while maintaining a drama free day, the App happens to not have any glitches and we bring home a nice wage. Unfortunately, this scenario rarely occurs now or don’t exist at all for some Shoppers. We understand that nothing is perfect, but we feel that by giving us better tools in the field and addressing these main issues we can provide a bigger profit for your company and a better living wage for us and our families. Happy people make better Instacart Shoppers and by working together we could achieve so much more.
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