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Instacart is only as good as the shopper that's shopping for 'you'...

By Mike Thayer

Instacart Shopping
I got what I ordered... This time...

I've used Instacart for grocery shopping twice now.

The first time was a very bad experience which I did earlier this month, with the person who was doing the shopping for me either not very experienced or just didn't care about making proper substitutions for items I had ordered.  That guy, Jesse was his name, just texted 'Item not available' while he was shopping, dropping things off my list.  And that's the downside to using Instacart, once the shopping starts, you can't alter your order.  I get that, but in this case, the dude shopping on my behalf was CLUELESS!  I'm convinced that if he couldn't find it he said to himself, "Screw it", and didn't ask a Dillon's employee where to find something and he made no effort to substitute.  I got 75% of what was on my list ordering 12 items and receiving 9, which had nothing extravagant on it, ground beef (received one pound out of two pounds ordered), two packages of pepperoni, Parmesan cheese, Kroger store brand pizza sauce (dropped by the shopper), Kroger lunch meats (ham dropped by the shopper) and a few other items.  I paid nearly $50 for two bags of groceries, but received just 75% of what was on my original list.  Part of that nearly $50 included $9.95 for the service and delivery to my home + a tip.  I came away from that experience regretting the use of Instacart.  Jesse the shopper sucked.

But hoping that original experience was an anomaly, I tried Instacart again on 3/23.  I ordered 12 items and yes, received 12 items, with the only alteration to my order being a 5 pound bag of potatoes, switching brands for about the same price based on availability.  I was alerted via text and I was OK with that.  My shopper's name was Jennifer and she obviously knew what she was doing, she filled everything on my list.  There were 12 items in my order totaling $35.58, plus the $9.95 delivery fee, plus the suggested $2.28 tip for a total of $47.81. 

My second experience with Instacart was WAY better than the first, so the use of the service, good or bad does depend entirely on who is doing the shopping for you.

Regarding my first Instacart shopping experience, I did complain, but Instacart didn't respond.  Dillon's did though, giving me a $20 credit on my next in store/pickup/or delivery order.  Thank you Dillon's for caring about your customers.  Instacart, you kind of get the finger here...

So after using Instacart twice now, I can only conclude it would be hit and miss, totally dependent on who is shopping on your behalf, their experience, their familiarity of the store and whether they really care about truly fulfilling your order or not.  With that said and moving forward, I'm only going to use Instacart again if the weather is REALLY bad or for some unforeseen reason I just can't make it to the grocery store.  Using Instacart is NOT worth the $9.95 + tip in my opinion and is NOT worthy of repeat use.  I'm giving Instacart 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  In placing my order just after 2pm, I received my order at 3:45pm.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Leslie Dumas

Be lucky you got 9 items with that tip. The shopper was only making $9. After delivery, he probably lost money.

Mike T.

Thanks for reading Leslie! Instacart pays shoppers between $15 - $20 per hour, including tips which are usually 5-20%+ of the order. Instacart shoppers keep 100% of tips. The most efficient Instacart shoppers are earning up to $45/hour. Jesse was anything but efficient.


That's actually not true. Instacart pays a shopper $7 to go to the store,shop,pay,drive to your house and deliver. Instacart shoppers unfortunately have to rely on tips. Sometimes it can be a hour or more worth of work,20 plus miles and instacart still only pays 7-10 for the order. We don't get paid by the hour. Check any instacart shopper Facebook group and you'll see how shoppers are valued. That is why you're getting poor service.

Mike T.

The payout I provided in the earlier breakdown is what an average Instacart shopper makes presented in a per hour average. Instacart has a very complex pay schedule and structure that includes pay per item, pay per mileage, base pay, heavy order pay, customer tip and more. This accounts for the large fluctuation in payouts. Instacart has recently stopped paying the pay per item, reducing that average. And again, the bottom line is, if an Instacart shopper doesn't like the projected payout on the order, then they shouldn't accept the order. If the order is accepted, then do the job right.


If you aren't averaging at least $15/hr as an Instacart Shopper, then you are a below average shopper. You should be asking yourself, "What is Joe doing that I'm not, he's averaging $25/hr?"


I'm curious after reading this. I've been an experienced shopper for two years, I'm older and a mom so shopping for groceries comes easy for me. However, i need to ask if you were communicating with your shopper in the first shop? I ask because i make it a policy not to replace items if i am not getting communication from a shopper. We are not mind readers. Many many many times we have been burned by customers who do not like our replacements and that reflects against us. Yes, Instacart will penalize us if you file a claim and give us a bad rating for our replacements. So i learned early on in the job not to do them if i do not get a customer's approval first. I also let the customers know that immediately before the shop. It has worked well for me these past two years. I've seen some really bad shoppers out there and mostly because there is no training whatsoever. Like the other commenter said we are getting paid less and IC is trying to use customer tips to make up the difference which i think is pretty rotten.

Mike T.

Thanks for reading Holli! That's the thing with that first no-contact delivery shop, the only texts I received from shopper Jesse was "Item not available," he didn't offer a substitution, despite my asking. And the store being out of the Kroger brand pizza sauce, I don't believe it. I'm convinced the guy couldn't find it and didn't ask an employee where it was located. I had to ask my first time in that store, it's not shelved where you logically think it should be. And like there's no other substitution? Please. Same thing for the ham lunch meat. No alternative options? Please... Only one pound of ground beef received of the two pounds ordered? WTF? That IC experience tainted my second, I admittedly under-tipped for that no-contact delivery, in kind of a wait and see mode and tip amounts are up front. The difference between shopper Jesse and shopper Jennifer was night and day.

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