I signed up on the Instacart app to be a full service shopper in April of 2020, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Instacart onboarded new shoppers by the droves as the customer demand was greater than the shopper supply.
From the time I applied, it took just three days to be contracted and ready to start my first batch with Instacart. This isn’t the case now, Instacart hired more than 500,000 shoppers during the pandemic, resulting in long wait lists for new shopper candidates in most regions throughout the United States.
I picked the right time to sign on with Instacart.
The batch distributions in 2020 were plentiful and lucrative. I was able to cherry pick and stay close to home with every single order, earning at least $200.00 per day and often higher, working minimal hours. This is because the customer tips were at an all time high, and most tips averaged over $30.00 per order, for me. Instacart also forgave all low customer ratings, which kept shoppers at the five star rating needed to ensure access to the highest paying batches. This was a win-win!
Shopping through the pandemic was not easy.
Grocery stores were wiped clean of many household and food items, resulting in a surplus of replacements and refunds. This made it extremely difficult to satisfy customers, even with constant communication. Now, factor in shoppers putting themselves at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. I was happy to shop for customers, but not without great concern for my own safety.
Fast forward to March of 2021. I am still a full service Instacart shopper and don’t have the luxury of cherry picking the best batches anymore.
Instacart has become a dog eat dog competitive market, forcing shoppers to be held captive to their phones, in fear of not being quick enough to swipe on a batch that is worth accepting.
If this isn’t bad enough, shoppers are now given unfair low ratings putting them at a huge disadvantage in receiving fair batch payouts. These unfair ratings handed out so generously by customers hinder shoppers’ ability to make ends meet. Instacart stated low ratings given without reason would be forgiven, but this is not the case and Instacart has failed shoppers in this regard.
As long as the customer orders are being fulfilled, protecting shoppers is not Instacart’s priority.
In addition to the relentless rating system, shoppers are worried everyday their customers will report missing or damaged items, or worse, report they didn’t receive their entire order at all, resulting in immediate deactivation for shoppers. Even with photographic proof of delivery, shoppers lose access to their account and dignity.
Shoppers with the best rating and speed metrics are still able to make acceptable money on the Instacart platform, but this is fleeting and inconsistent. It’s incredibly hard to rally behind Instacart who doesn’t respect their shoppers enough to communicate with them. Instacart shoppers are the front line workers, who have increased Instacart’s billion dollar bottom line.