Where do your tips at Instacart really go?


I worked for Instacart from February 2015 through July of 2015. The post below is a copy and paste from my Facebook page. You can go there and see screen shots of emails sent and received. There are a couple updates along the way, so you may want to start at the bottom and read up. You can go visit the original post here, with screenshots, comments (except those that a commentor deleted, which also erased other comments I had made). I’m not copying them all over, only the main post body. The bottom line that you need to take from this – know to what kind of company you are giving your hard earned money.

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**Update October 8, 2015**
I have recently learned that they are doing this with Costco orders in Atlanta as well. This means that the person you are rewarding for lugging those heavy items into your home, isn’t receiving said reward unless you give them cash.

There’s a competitor that just came to town a couple weeks ago. I was ecstatic, as I loved doing this for a living, so I signed up. So far, this company is no comparison to Instacart. When we have questions or concerns, they not only listen, but they implement changes. Currently, they only shop at Publix in Atlanta, and that may change in the future. This company is called Shipt, and you should check them out. They are based in Birmingham, and are more than just another tech company trying to get rich off other people’s backs and shady practices.

Those of you who are long term Instacart (IC) customers know that IC went into Publix for a short time, then dropped them. The whole part of that story (that I know) is as follows:
We were told not to wear our IC shirts in Publix. They didn’t want Publix to know what we were doing. Granted, we were given a spiel to say if a Publix employee asked, and it did include that we were shopping for Instacart customers. It was more of a don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing. After a short time, we were told to please wear our shirts in Publix now. Shortly thereafter, we were told Publix was taken off the site while they negotiated with them, but would be back very soon. They still aren’t back, and I left the company in July so…

My opinion is that Publix did not appreciate the shady tactics. I don’t blame them, but this is only my opinion. I have no facts as to why Publlix never went back on IC’s website. From what I have seen with Shipt, they have fully embraced us, and the store level managers and employees have been excellent, even going out of their way to find things in the back for our customers when they are out of stock on the shelf.

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Know what kind of company you are giving it to. Don’t trust what you read in one place, even here. Do your research. I have posted emails and facts, and you can read all the reviews of IC on glassdoor.com. If one or two people say the sky is falling, you get wary, you question, but you go about your day. When the masses say it, there might just be something behind it, but still, do your research and make your own opinion. IC isn’t the only kid on the block anymore, and in the long term, they will have to change their ways, or they will lose their place on the block.

**Update July 13, 2015**
This post is no longer private and may be shared where ever you like. Because I posted about where the customers money goes when they tip, and Instacart doesn’t want you to know how they do business, I am no longer making deliveries for the company. (Their choice to end this soon, but I was already making other arrangements.) Someone I mistakenly considered a friend made some comments on my post, and when a discussion ensued, deleted her comments and sent the screen shots to the company. I only saw one post she made, as the others were deleted while I was sleeping, so I cannot comment on them. She did mention that one night she made $38/hour, and it’s true, one night she did. She had told me this before, as she (and I) were both amazed, as this is far from normal, and with the recent changes to their payments to contractors, next to impossible. When I first started, I was making consistently above $20/hour. As they made changes, that lowered. Remember, this is not a job, and this number is before expenses like gas and the self employment tax.

I find it said that in this day and age we are not allowed to hold opinions or speak the truth, even among friends, without repercussions and drama. Nothing I said is or was untrue. Consumers should know where their money is going, and if they give a tip meant for a certain service or person, they should know whether or not that person is receiving it.

Remember, the post below is for Whole Foods orders in Atlanta only. I cannot speak on how other cities handle this, except for what I learned from drivers in those cities. As of this posting, only the Whole Foods orders in Atlanta are run this way. Judging from what has already happened in other cities, this will get worse before it gets better. Instacart is a tech company. They need to hire someone in the delivery business that knows what they are doing, or in the end, they will no longer have a company. They do not yet realize that the tech is useless without the driver to deliver the orders.

In the next couple days, I will post more information to my blog, including emails sent to and from the company.

**Original post (unedited)**

For my friends who order instacart, they’ve just changed their compensation for most Whole Foods orders. Now, all the tip goes to the in store shopper, and the driver gets compensated only $3 to replace this. Before, we split the tip 50% between us. They think giving us $3 and taking away the tips we make (generally $5-12 for our half) is a raise.

The in store deserve tips, but so do the drivers. We are not employees. We pay self employment tax (1099). We are not reimbursed for using our vehicles (gas, etc). Bottom line, customers think the money they tip is going to the drivers. It’s not. And when your orders start taking longer to arrive, realize this is why, as this new pay rate is not a feasible business for us.

In the meantime, tip via credit card to your shopper. Anything on CC will go directly to them. Tip your driver cash at the door. It’s the only way to get a tip to your driver if that’s what you wish to do.

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One thought on “Where do your tips at Instacart really go?

  1. I hate in-store shopping. But I also resent the ambiguity and imposed guilt created by the uncertainty surrounding tipping for services connected to an online purchase. This is an unneeded friction in the system that inhibits the growth of the online service that does not remove that friction for the customer. To me and many others, what makes on-line ordering of meals, groceries, wine, etc. most attractive is not having to worry about tipping etiquette. The worst thing is when the online service refuses to disclose clearly the allocation of tips paid online as part of the initial transaction. If there is a $7.99 required delivery charge and I add a voluntary $10 tip, that had better be the end of it. But Instacart, because I apparently cannot be confident that some worker will not be screwed, makes me feel heartless or guilty notwithstanding the $17.99 outlay. That is why Instacart will never be the first provider I go to if I have a choice. Instacart and Whole Foods lose, and their employees and independent contractors providing the on-line service lose as well. My strong suggestion: the on-line food industry, if it has any trade organization, must publish best practices for dealing with tipping and apply pressure for their use and disclosure by on-line providers that wish to maintain a good reputation.

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