Instacart Shopper Shares Things to Stop Doing When Ordering Groceries

  • I work as an Instacart shopper and there are some things customers do that make my job harder.
  • It sucks when customers leave bad directions or add a ton of items after you’ve started the order.
  • It’s frustrating when customers are unresponsive or leave negative reviews for no real reason.

Although I spend most of my days in front of a keyboard, I also moonlight as an Instacart shopper.

It’s a side gig that’s flexible with my schedule and allows me to tap into some of those ancient skills I had working at a grocery store as a teen.

But being an Instacart shopper isn’t all breezy — here are 10 things I wish customers would stop doing:

Bad directions can turn a quick, easy trip into an hour-long affair

It’s an Instacarter’s worst nightmare: You’re driving to drop off a car full of groceries and your GPS suddenly tells you that you arrived … to a deserted piece of land.

Or sometimes people in apartments forget to put their unit number — if they don’t answer, you may need to spend half an hour on the phone with Instacart support.

It’s even worse when the customer has cold items that could begin slowly thawing in my car.

Instacarters make most of their money from tips, but not all customers are generous

Thankfully, Instacart lets you choose which orders you want to take. Still, there are some real doozies that pop up in my feed. How about shopping for 47 items for $7? No thank you!

Technically, Instacart also has a heavy-load pay for large items — but that doesn’t make things easier when a customer ordered water in bulk and are on the sixth floor of a walk-up apartment building.

Some customers leave only a couple of dollars or, worse, no tip at all. When large orders can take a significant amount of time including shopping and distance, you can sometimes end up making less than minimum wage.

It’s totally OK to add a few items to your list after the order starts … but please be reasonable 

Some customers like to be what I call “active shoppers.” They will continue to grow their shopping list through the entire order since Instacart allows customers to add items until checkout.

It can be a bit maddening when you take what you thought was a small order only for the opposite to be the case.

I once took an order that seemed too good to be true at three items for $18. But many added-on items and half an hour later, I ended up regretting it.

I felt like I was in a “Supermarket Sweep”-style competition to finish and reach the checkout counter before the customer could add even more.

The writer checking out of Publix

 

Sometimes it feels misleading when a customer adds dozens of items to their order while I shop.

Matthew Wilson

It can be frustrating when people are really picky about their replacements 

Sometimes stores run out of items and, as shoppers, Instacart encourages us to find replacements because our pay is tied to the overall amount for the batch.

I totally get that everyone has their favorite brands — there’s a refund option for a reason — but sometimes customers get surprisingly picky when it comes to replacements.

Once a customer asked for a refund for tortillas because the store only had a slightly bigger bag than she was asking for — 10 shells instead of eight.

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for customers who don’t communicate

In a perfect world, the store will have everything a customer needs. But often I will need to contact the customer about potential replacements or a refund. If the customer doesn’t respond it can be difficult to figure out what to do next.

Additionally, some actions require approval by the customer in order to check out. If they don’t reply in a timely manner, I have to twiddle my thumbs waiting for a response.

I’m not going to break the rules to buy you alcohol and cigarettes 

I’m more than happy to follow most requests, like wearing gloves while shopping or using paper bags for your groceries.

But asking me to buy you cigarettes and beer with your order is where I draw the line. In South Carolina and a number of other states, shoppers are not permitted to buy alcohol or tobacco products for customers.

The rules haven’t stopped customers from trying to circumvent the system. They’ll leave messages like, “Don’t take my order if you’re not going to buy my cigarettes and beer.” OK, I won’t.

A cart in Publix with items inside

 

Sometimes shoppers make requests we aren’t allowed to follow.

Matthew Wilson

It sucks when you get a low rating for no real reason 

Maintaining a five-star rating is essential to Instacart. If your rating starts dropping you receive fewer batches until you can increase it.

But sometimes customers will give you a bad rating for seemingly no reason at all. Some will blame you for the grocery store not having a specific item or they’ll list an item as damaged even though you left it perfectly safe and sound on their doorstep.

It can be a maddening experience, a little like spinning a what-review-will-I-get-this-time roulette wheel.

It’s frustrating when the few bad-apple customers go on a power trip 

The company provides a valuable service to customers who might struggle to shop, so many people using the app are understanding and great to work with.

But every so often, you get a customer who yells or treats you like you’re not worthy to shop for their groceries.

Some say that you can determine a person’s true character by how they treat their server at a restaurant — if that’s the case, it’s probably also true of Instacart shoppers.

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