What happens when I report an issue to Instacart?
December 24, 2020 8:54 AM   Subscribe

I can't grocery shop right now because of covid, and over the holidays I have used Instacart because my buddies who usually bring me groceries haven't been available. I am interested in what happens when you report an issue with your order to Instacart.

I've used Instacart a handful of times, and every time I have ended up with one or two items that I didn't order, and one or two things missing. I don't mind much (things happen! whatever) and mostly feel bad because I imagine that the shopper is doing two or three orders at once and they've just mixed up some of my items with someone else's. I have two questions:

(1) Is there a way for me to get the items that I didn't buy back to them, especially if I notice it right away? Like one time they accidentally gave me four family size boxes of Cheerios, which I saw as soon as I opened my door (I will be working through these Cheerios forever). Is there a way to alert them so that they can come back? I tried to do this by reporting an issue in Instacart in the hope that this would alert the driver and they would come back (why did I think this?) but Instacart just told me to keep the Cheerios two days later. Today I ended up with several pounds of chicken. This one makes me feel really bad!

(2) If I tell Instacart that some of my items weren't delivered, does my shopper get in trouble? If so, what kind of trouble? Do they garnish their wages? Take some of their tips? Do they have a tally of how many times people mess up and fire them (not allow them to shop anymore)? Do they do something else that I haven't imagined?
(2a) Relatedly, if I tell them that my shopper brought some wrong items, does that get them in trouble?

I already feel a lot of guilt about the fact that I can't grocery shop, and while I'm pretty sure I just won't ever alert Instacart to issues ever again, I am really curious about what happens when I do. The labor conditions of the gig economy concern me, so I'd like some concrete information about what happens when shoppers report issues. And because I think I might get comments about how I shouldn't use Instacart, I recognize that it is not the best choice, but it is sometimes the only choice that I have. I can actually see the grocery store from my house, so I'm not making someone drive all over to get me groceries, I tip well, and I always leave positive reviews. If there are other things that I could do to support Instacart shoppers, I'm also interested in hearing them.
posted by k8lin to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In the question I should have included that I'm interested in hearing from people who have actually been shoppers for Instacart, or who otherwise know this information from a reliable source. I'm not interested in speculation about what might happen; I've done plenty of that on my own!
posted by k8lin at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not an answer to your question but FWIW I never complain about getting something I didn't want, I just give it away. I guess I would complain if I were charged for it but that hasn't happened yet. If you post on your local mutual aid or Buy Nothing group, I guarantee there's someone who would be happy to pick up those Cheerios and that chicken from outside your door!
posted by mskyle at 9:28 AM on December 24, 2020

This previous question might hold some of your answers. The last one links you to the subreddit where there a lot of people who fulfill the orders.
posted by soelo at 9:52 AM on December 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have my suspicions about most of your questions but I'm not a shopper, so I'll just answer the one thing I know from my experience: if you get something meant for another person, they will not send someone to get it from you - once it's been in your house there's liability issues, so just keep it and use it or give it to a friend/neighbor. You may have paid for it, and yes you could contact them to tell them and get a refund. I don't do that because of concerns about blowback on the shopper.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:59 AM on December 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I sent this to a friend who has been an Instacart shopper for quite a while. She's in the middle of a shift but said: "the short answer is no, they can’t come back, and the extra items most likely belong to another customer."

The way this all impacts the various people involved in order fulfillment (gig workers and employees) is more complex and she said she'd write up something about that when she's home later.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:11 AM on December 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

I have no helpful advice, just came here to say that once I got someone's extra-large pack of nicotine gum and their sugarless cupcakes and thought, "That poor person is going to have a really bad night."
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 10:34 AM on December 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

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