You're Doing Your Online Grocery Ordering All Wrong

An Instacart shopper tells all, and shares tips for getting better service.

Since the pandemic began, more and more Americans have switched to ordering their groceries online, and even after quarantine restrictions have let up, they've enjoyed not having to go to the supermarket so much, they've continued to let Instacart and similar services deliver their food. But convenience comes with a price... or at least more reasons for customers to complain.

Now, a Massachusetts Instacart shopper named Jen has spilled her guts and all her secrets to Insider. Okay, that's not entirely true. Jen has offered some tips to get better service from your Instacart shopper.

"Tips" is the operative word here: if you don't tip, you won't get decent service. Instacart's default tip is 5%, though the app recommends $2 minimum. Jen says that if the order doesn't include a tip, she won't accept it, and neither will more highly rated shoppers. "We're providing an honest, hardworking living and deserve to be respected just like anybody else," she said.

Jen also advises making use of Instacart's communication features. The app allows customers to leave special instructions for their shoppers, like their preferred level of ripeness in bananas or where to leave the groceries if nobody is going to be home to answer the door. Users should also keep the app open while the shopper is at the store in case of emergencies, like when the precise kind of bread they asked for is out of stock, in which case Instacart will prompt the customer to let the shopper know their second choice. If the customer doesn't respond, the shopper will be on her own. (There are countries where people are starving!!!! Do you feel guilty yet?) "Customers often get very, very angry with shoppers because we've had to refund an item or maybe we bought the wrong item," Jen told Insider. "I promise you, I'm not trying to mess up your order. I'm not deliberately trying to buy the wrong loaf of bread."

Finally, Jen says, don't be an asshole. There are some things that an Instacart shopper can't control, like the availability of the customer's precious, precious loaf of bread, and they shouldn't be abused or penalized for it. Also, if you give an Instacart shopper a less-than-perfect rating, it will damage their overall score and Instacart will be less likely to give them access to more lucrative orders. (For the record, Instacart denies this.)

In short, do unto your Instacart shopper as you would have them do unto you. Communicate, and always tip generously!