An Open Letter To Instacart

Dear Instacart;

You were one of the few app-delivery platforms that provided its workers with a living wage by allowing customers to leave generous tips through the app, which nearly all of them did. I never had issues with non-tippers, as 80% of the customers (as stated by you) left tips, and therefore the majority of my daily orders were well-compensated. These changes you have made to the pay and tipping structure have absolutely nothing to do with transparency, with reliability, or with customer ease — it has to do with corporate greed, which you have fallen into just like every other on-demand platform that currently exists. This new “service fee” is deceptive, and borderline unethical, as our customers have come to understand that all of their tips will go to directly to us. Under this new system, you ask them to tip us twice (if they even understand that the ‘additional tip’ is what we actually receive, and if they can even find that option on the obscure screen you’ve placed it), which is completely unreasonable. Even if it wasn’t deceptively introduced, you’ve effectively forced people to simply leave a lower tip than we’re accustomed too, all so that you can have power and control over how those tips get distributed amongst us shoppers, which is the opposite of transparency and a complete slap in the face to the people who have put a lot of hard work into building this platform up to be what it is today.

My averages have gone down between 30-40% from pre-change rates. I’m sure there is a small group of shoppers who were making sub-par wages and this has slightly increased their earnings, but I guarantee you those workers are in the minority. For most of us, we have seen a drastic reduction in compensation. As full-service shoppers, we do everything from start to finish. We provide you with our vehicles. We pay for our gas and maintenance. The kind of pay reduction you have created not only cuts into our base wage, but also the money we used for gas, maintenance, and taxes. This new system leaves us with minimum wage at best, and additionally we get to look forward to owning a vehicle with excessive wear and tear and nothing to show for it. If you want to raise delivery commissions to ensure that all shoppers are fairly paid (a noble idea!), especially the minority who do not receive a lot of tips, then raise the price of the service. If you can’t pay us fairly on your own and be profitable at the same time, then you have built a poor business model and should consider charging what the service is actually worth.

Many of the individuals working in this app-job economy are fed up. They are organizing, and they are demanding more from the companies that they provide services to. Currently, there is very little regulation on these types of jobs, but that doesn’t mean workers should be taken advantage of. Instacart was one of the few that actually seemed to care and look out for it’s workers, but with these new changes, it has degraded to the kind of exploitation that is commonplace in this industry.

I love Instacart. I love the flexibility and fair pay it has provided me up until now. I would love to continue working with you, but unless your course is reversed and our tips are reinstated, as they were previously (clearly visible, straight-forward, easy), I will be looking for a regular job and permanently leaving the app-based job economy. I simply can’t support myself, and I am not alone.

Sincerely,

A Shopper who has been with you for 2 years