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Thousands of Instacart Shoppers plan to protest pay changes

A Shopper says she and her colleagues want the "restoration of what was originally promised."


Thousands of Instacart Shoppers, the people who go to the store for the app's users, are planning a protest early next month. Shoppers want Instacart to make the default tip amount at least 10%, let the Shopper keep the whole tip, and nix the service fee the company reportedly keeps. An Instacart Shopper, Vanessa Bain, wrote a letter this week to the service's customers, explaining the reasons for the protest. 

"We did not arrive at the 10% figure arbitrarily, rather this is what the default tip amount was back when I and many others started working for Instacart," Bain wrote in the Tuesday note. "We are simply demanding the restoration of what was originally promised."

Bain outlined a brief history of her time shopping for Instacart. She said that in Oct. 2016 the company removed its tip option and promised higher delivery commissions. When tipping was reintroduced later, it was lowered to a default 5% and the service fee was dropped from an optional 10% fee to a fixed 5% charge. Bain said that by 2017, Shoppers were making as little as $1 per hour because of pay cuts and lack of transparency in how payments were calculated. Payments were lowered once again in 2018 to as little as 80 cents per hour, Bain said, adding that the company blamed this on a glitch. Bain also said that in February, Instacart had to return "misappropriated tips to Shoppers." 

She said that despite customer loyalty, many Shoppers have had to find second jobs to make ends meet. 

"A large portion of the working body are single parents, caregivers, are disabled or have other conditions or obligations that would make getting other work difficult or impossible," Bain wrote. "Instacart is highly aware of this and weaponizes this fact against us when turning the pay dials lower and lower."

Instacart didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company gave a statement to TechCrunch, which reported on the letter earlier.

"We take the feedback of the Shopper community very seriously and remain committed to listening to and using that feedback to improve their experience," an Instacart spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Instacart isn't the only delivery service to have this problem. In July, DoorDash, an on-demand food delivery company, was found to have a policy that put customers' tips for delivery workers into its own pockets. The company's CEO took to Twitter and changed course. 

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