What happens when I dispute an Instacart order?
May 4, 2020 2:27 PM   Subscribe

An instacart shopper purchased about $15 worth of the wrong food, as part of a larger order, that ignored my specified exclusive substitution. (This, that, or nothing.) I would sort of like my $15 back. But, I also want to stress out a gig worker approximately zero.

I've briefly googled around, and it seems like there's a demerit system? And it seems like penalties add up quite quickly? Do I have this right? Should I just eat the $15?
posted by zeek321 to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don’t have an answer to your specific question, but from what I’ve read, Instacart treats its workers particularly poorly even compared to other gig work outfits. I expect that if you dispute the item it will hurt the worker in a nontrivial way.

(Also just want to add that your frustration over reviving the wrong expensive item is valid, and it sucks that we live in a world right now where we have to choose between getting what we paid for and being humane to workers.)
posted by mekily at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2020 [8 favorites]

Eat the $15? Pun intended?

I look at it as the same as a tip at a restaurant. Regardless of the service, unless it is extreme either way, I am going to give a 20 or so percent tip. It is part of the wages of the worker. The InstaCarter fucked up, but do you want to affect their earning potential? Is the $15 that critical to you. If it is, report it. If not, learn your lesson. These days accuracy is not guaranteed.
posted by AugustWest at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2020 [10 favorites]

I have gotten some weird shit in my order, instead of what I put on the list, but unless it's somehow inedible or something, I just let it go, especially right now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Can you eat the product that you were erroneously given? If so, I'd chalk it up as an extra tax on not going in person to the grocery store these days. There are a lot of new and overworked shoppers out there so that others can stay home.
posted by TwoStride at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I would eat the $15 and be glad it wasn't something worse.

Grocery stores are brutal right now. They may be waiting in line just to get into the store. What's sold out changes by the day or even hour, the quality of the fresh food that is available can be terrible, online store inventories are wildly inaccurate, and just being inside a store can be a stressful, unsafe-feeling environment that makes it hard to concentrate. While I guess it's possible shoppers are subbing out do-not-replace items to increase their tip... I think for $15, it's more likely to have been an honest mistake.

If you want more about the specifics of how the system works, r/InstacartShoppers has some discussion. tl;dr Instacart is breaking down under the load, and it sounds like even the workers don't know how the reliability score is being impacted by complaints right now.
posted by pie ninja at 3:19 PM on May 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Yes, you're correct about the treatment of workers by Instacart and similar services. Go with your instinct and don't pursue the issue. Find something else to do with the unwanted item - eat it, donate it, gift it, whatever. People doing this work are performing an essential job under extreme pressure, poor treatment from management, and sometimes shitty behavior from customers. Let it slide.
posted by theory at 3:21 PM on May 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Instacart is a bit expensive, so I feel the aggravation. I doubt workers are in danger of job loss; they are struggling to keep the jobs filled at all. I don't think Instcart shoppers have to wait to get into stores. You local food bank might be able to use the things you won't use, feels like a bad time to waste any food.
posted by theora55 at 3:30 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Being an instacart worker is life threateningly dangerous right now. I don't say this to be shaming, but I think your response should take that into account.
posted by latkes at 3:32 PM on May 4, 2020 [13 favorites]

I get it, it's annoying to receive incorrect items when I'm careful to list what I want and the acceptable alternative. You might feel better by reframing the situation. If you made a large order, that $15 worth of product is probably a small portion of the overall order? If so, how did the shopper do overall in getting you what you needed when you needed it?

I've had a shopper make some "interesting" substitutions I didn't request, or select an item with a best buy date of the next day. I wouldn't have purchased those items myself in person, but that's not the situation I'm in and I'm just grateful to have someone help me with shopping at this time.

Yeah, kinda stinks, and maybe some of those items are literally unusable for you (like, if you have a gluten intolerance). Right now, there's a lot of stress and anxiety in the world. My goal is to not add to the global stress levels (my stress levels included), especially for an amount I'm not going to miss a week from now.

If there are items you literally can't use and they are shelf stable items, maybe a friend or neighbor may get some use out of them. It's a hard time! Sending good vibes your way.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 3:36 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have found, as an Instacart user in normal times, if you feel really strongly about a substitution you should put a note that specifically says "chat me if this isn't available" and also babysit on the app as they're shopping to see substitutions immediately so you can chat them and intervene if there's an issue.

It is absolutely brutal out there for them now and at least in our area they are not getting special treatment of any kind (and I see a lot of people assuming they do), so yes you have to let it go. It sucks, I know. I have found that my best luck, if I luck out with delivery windows, is to order late at night and hope they run it first thing in the morning while stuff is still best stocked.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:10 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have never been docked $15 or however much it cost my employer for any minor, non-criminal, non-malicious, and absolutely understandable work error I've ever made. not at any job I've ever had. If I ever had been, I would have put down my work and walked out then and there.

this instacart fuckup probably can't do that, because their job doesn't work that way, and because they probably need the work and the pay more than I've ever needed any job I've ever held in my life. and I am not wealthy.

Get the $15 back if you need it badly to buy more food to live. that's it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:24 PM on May 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Get the $15 back if you need it badly to buy more food to live. that's it.

posted by praemunire at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2020

I've been letting the delivery errors go unreported; I figure that everyone involved is likely genuinely trying their hardest in a difficult situation and unless there is a huge, serious issue, I'm going to let the odd substitutions and the errors go.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:07 PM on May 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Once I ordered salad and got a salad spinner. Still got it.
posted by bradbane at 4:08 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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