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Working for Instacart is a Sucker’s Game2 min read

The concept of shopping for groceries online to have them delivered to your house is a great one. In theory. You shop like you’re buying anything else and hours later someone shows up at your door with the delivery. The problem: the people doing the work are getting paid table scraps.

Lured by the idea of “setting your own schedule” and “being your own boss”, people who do this gig work are learning they are at the mercy of the algorithms put in place to determine pay. Shoppers for Instacart have had enough. 13,000 workers went on strike for Saturday the 16th to protest the changes.

Some shoppers are frustrated that despite Instacart’s $39 billion valuation, they feel it’s becoming harder to make a reasonable hourly rate on the platform. In the past, Instacart had a $10 minimum on earnings for each batch a shopper completed (batches can contain between one and three individual customers’ orders). But after founder and former CEO Apoorva Mehta publicly apologized in February 2019 for subsidizing this $10 minimum with shoppers’ tips, the minimum batch pay changed to $7 for full-service shoppers, who both pick the groceries and deliver them. 

TechCrunch

Imagine earning $7 to not only buy someone’s groceries but to load your car with their bags, drive to their house, then unload it at their doorstep. For seven dollars. Even if someone tips, maybe you tack on $10 or $15? Either way, you’re making less than minimum wage by doing this work.

People order without thinking of the implications of the person delivering the groceries. Ten 1-gallon jugs of water? Check. Someone living on a 2nd floor walkup? Check. Two or three bags of dog food? Check. Now think of doing that delivery order and being sent right back to the store once again to shop for another person who also does the same thing. Add on the fact that Instacart times workers as to how fast they’re supposed to go AND each time a shopper has to stop to ask a customer a question, and you can see how this gets worse and worse of a deal. Don’t forget the wear & tear on their car plus the cost of gas. None of that is compensated.

A company valued at $39 billion giving table scraps to its “they’re not really our” employees. Awful.

Oh and for the record DoorDash, Uber, and Shipt all do the same thing. For a quick buck “gigging” for any of these apps may work on a daily basis. But on a (not very) long enough timeline it’s the company who comes out ahead.

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