I tried Instacart and Instacart+

During the pandemic, I’ve been trying different grocery delivery services. I’ve tried a few, but the most recent has been Instacart. I’ve ordered from Publix once and Harris Teeter twice and here’s what happened…

I got an offer when I went to the site that I could have 3 “free” deliveries in 14 days by signing up, so I did. I was charged over $11 for the first order delivery fee, so not free, but maybe I misunderstood the offer? That order went well and I tipped on top of the 15% of my order, even before all the refunds for items the store was out of stock.

The next order went a little less smoothly. The store was out of things, which is understandable. I agreed to a replacement on some pasta because I don’t care that much about the shape of the pasta. Except I didn’t actually get the replacement. Okay, mistakes happen. I was also charged $11.29 service fee and tipped 15% of the original order total, not the total after refunded items. (I’m not begrudging the tips here. Good shoppers deserve tips. But if you are tipping a percentage of the order total, shouldn’t it be on the final total?)

The third order, I signed up for the 2 week trial of instacart+ and my intention was to make a decision based on how a premium subscription would go. I was charged half the service fee. The store was out of things and the shopper was trying to replace with wildly different items. Like replacing a vegetable with a fruit. Or replacing things I had marked “do not substitute”. One item I agreed on a replacement and again, I didn’t receive the item.

My issue with Instacart:

I happened to get a email flyer from the store that week and I could see what Harris Teeter was charging for an item versus what Instacart was charging. I fully understand Instacart is doing what they need to do to make a profit, however there are other services that charge store prices and still are profitable. (Dumpling comes to mind, but I haven’t tried them yet.)

It’s hard to know how much more I’m paying for items because I get Instacart’s receipt, not one from the store. I only know they charged a lot more for cereal and one week they charged me $7.29 for a bag of Tostito chips. I don’t think I agreed to that but maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention. Had I known the price, I would have chosen a different one. The same thing with replacements that I’m not getting… they are still on the Instacart receipt.

Nothing against the shoppers and I understand why they do it, but quality of service suffers with batch orders. I could kinda tell the shopper was doing multiple orders because it took nearly 2 hours from the time she started shopping until she finished. I was watching on the site and waiting so I could reply quickly to any messages. I didn’t have that many items and when things finally got here, frozen and cold items weren’t frozen anymore. I know batch shopping is the most profitable and that some people out there aren’t tipping very well. I get that.

Final Verdict:

I have decided not to sign up for a membership. I will probably still use Instacart on occasion but I’m not sure it is worth $99 a year for me.

I am not going to complain to Instacart and I didn’t leave the shoppers a review. I did adjust the tip higher for the shopper who delivered all the things I’d ordered. I have nothing against the shoppers. I know they are trying their best with what the stores have on shelves.