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Instacart is a grocery delivery service that allows customers to shop one app and get access to multiple stores. Users can submit a grocery order online or through the app and have groceries delivered straight to their door for a one-time or monthly fee.
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- Order from many stores on one order
- Direct contact with personal shopper
- Flexible delivery options
- Prices may be higher than in store
Instacart has changed the way people go grocery shopping. It allows for customization and flexible scheduling options. The membership option helps reduce fees for regular users.
How does Instacart work?
Instacart hires background-checked and trained personal shoppers to handle your grocery shopping. All you have to do is put a list together, schedule your delivery, pay online and receive your order. Here’s how it works:
- Put your list together
- Creating a grocery list on Instacart is simple:
- Enter your ZIP code to find out which local grocery stores partner with Instacart.
- Browse the different grocery stores and pharmacies to find the items you need. You can browse by item name or department.
- Add items to your cart and review your final selections.
- Check out by entering your payment info and scheduling a drop-off window. If you are ordering from multiple stores, you need to designate a drop-off time for each location.
- You also have the option of sharing a cart with friends or family. This is a great way for families to add what they need to a single cart, but payments can’t be split up.
- If your shopper gets to the store and an item on your list is not available, they replace it with the product’s closest match, replace it with something different from a list of approved items or skip getting the item altogether. You can choose which option you prefer when creating your grocery list.
If the replacement item is a different price than your original item, you receive a refund or are charged for the difference in cost. The Instacart app lets you communicate with your shopper during the process so you can add things to your order and see replies and updates from the shopper.
- Schedule the drop-off
- Once you create your list and complete your order, it’s time to pay and schedule a delivery. You can schedule the delivery within a few hours or set a day and time that works with your schedule.
During checkout, you can include delivery instructions for the driver, including gate codes, apartment numbers, parking instructions or ways for the shopper to identify your home.
- Track the order and receive your groceries
- It’s easy to track your order status with the Instacart app. Tap the “Account” icon, click on “Your orders,” and then tap an order to view its status. You can see the progress of your order directly on the app and get real-time updates on what items the shopper has already picked up for you.
When the shopper leaves the store, you receive a notification about the estimated time of arrival and an option to click and follow the driver’s progress.
It’s worth looking into Instacart Express if you use the company’s service regularly. This monthly membership gives you access to exclusive benefits such as:
- No delivery fees on orders of $35 or more
- Reduced service fees
- No increased pricing fees during peak delivery hours
- The ability to shop at a variety of stores with free delivery on the entire order
While Instacart makes life a little easier for many consumers, this convenience comes with a cost. Instacart charges a few fees to every order, including:
- A 5% service fee on every non-Instacart Express order.
- A sliding scale fee for alcohol purchases that varies based on how much alcohol you buy. For example, there is a $2 fee for alcohol orders up to $35 and a $10 fee for alcohol orders of $110 or more. These fees are reduced for Express members.
- A default tip of 5% is added to every order but can be adjusted to your preference. Tips are always optional, and 100% of your tip goes to the shopper.
You may notice that your service fee changes between the time you make your order and the time your groceries are purchased. This is because the service fee is based on the total cost of the order and replacements can change that total slightly.
An Instacart Express annual membership costs $99. You can also purchase monthly memberships for $9.99 each month.
- Do you have to be home for Instacart delivery?
- No. Instacart just rolled out a “leave at my door” delivery option. When you choose this option at checkout, the shopper leaves your groceries at the door, takes a photo and uploads the photo to the app so you know your order has arrived.
- Does Instacart bring your groceries inside?
- No. For safety reasons, shoppers leave your groceries in a predetermined place outside of your home.
- Do you tip Instacart?
- Yes. Tipping for great service is customary, and 100% of the tip goes to the shopper.
- What stores can I order from on Instacart?
- Available stores vary based on where you live. Instacart partners with Publix, Costco, CVS, The Fresh Market, Aldi, Kroger and many other popular grocery retailers.
Is Instacart legit?
Instacart is a reputable business that provides a safe, convenient way to buy groceries without needing to visit stores. The service can be a game-changer for busy families — grocery shopping is a time-consuming errand, and having the ability to assign it to someone else frees up hours in your day. Instacart is a great option for those who dislike grocery shopping or want to spend their time doing something else. The fees are minimal, and regular Instacart members can upgrade to Instacart Express and reduce these fees even more.
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The service is okay, but there's always something you have to refund: bruised banana, lemons that are unusable for being dried out or all rind, instead of orange juice sending me another product. And these was all items the shopper didn't mention as problems as she was shopping. Then this morning Instacart has the nerve to send me a message that they received too many complaints from and won't give me any more refunds. Well, la De da! Maybe they should make sure their service runs well. Done with them!!
I have used this service for grocery delivery the past couple years, with option to waive service fee. The customer pays delivery fee plus tip. I just relocated from Florida to upstate New York and trying to use this service they will not allow me to waive the service fee, nor would they reimburse almost a $10 service fee. Between service fee, delivery, and now a very little to no tip to the person that did all the work shopping, this is a very poor service to refer to any senior citizen, or anyone that needs groceries on a weekly basis. Sadly I will not be able to use this service only rarely due to almost $20 just to get groceries delivered with all the fees. Shame on Instacart for taking away from the hard workers who now will not get a tip or very little causing continuous overturn employee/independent contractor. Being that I’m an advocate for seniors, and due to this experience myself, I will be advocating and marketing the community not to use this service.
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I was charged first if all my shopping was 211.00 then the shopper couldn't find all my needs so the bill should of been 182 $ they took 250$ out of my account! By the time I tried getting it all looked after I ended up paying 240 for a 182 dollar shop?! I been wondering if I should do another order? Deciding against it then last night I was charged 103.95$ at 3:45 am. I never ordered anything so I had to call my bank. They frauded my account!!
I am an Instacart regular customer since 2020. I have not had too much of difficulty with the service until yesterday. I was given an option of free delivery but my delivery came 36 minutes late. I was informed by Instacart that their shopper could not scan meat, like that is my problem???? I had to throw it away. Ok you gave me a refund but there obviously was someone at the store or your shopper who tampered with the chicken because I received it loose in germy plastic shopping bag. All I have to say is I am disgusted and may never recover and I am really thinking do I want to pay these people tips at all. Just buyer beware there will always be some type of drama and your money is best spent elsewhere. I felt as if like someone really did not care if we get sick.
Instacart is a bad company. It is a crapshoot when you order using Instacart. In my experience, I estimate that one out of every 12-14 shoppers are enthusiastic and professional. The rest are rude, difficult, argumentative and have horrible attitudes from the get-go. They are unprofessional, ghost you on text messages when you ask questions, substitute your preferred items even though you have checked the "no substitutions" box, make excuses for not getting items you order even though the items are available in the store, (I call to check), and more than once I have had shoppers walk away in the middle of the order, angering the store staff when carts of groceries have been abandoned in the store. As one of the good shoppers told me, "Some shoppers just quit on you."
When you call Instacart to complain or to try to seek a solution, the people are usually nice, although I have gotten some rude ones. However, they have absolutely no authority to do anything. I used them to deliver groceries from my local Kroger. There are two Krogers in my area. One is old, small and often out of products, and the other is new, huge and rarely out of inventory. They are right down the street from each other, no more than a couple of miles. I think they ultimately intend on closing the small, old one, which is why they built a new one almost within walking distance.
In this situation, Instacart defaults on sending their shoppers to the old Kroger even though my profile specifically gives the address of the new Kroger and indicates it is my preferred home store. The Instacart people claim that no one in their company can change where the Instacart app sends the shoppers, because "the system" determines the store. Ask almost any question and you will be told about this all-knowing, all-powerful, autonomous "system" that makes all the decisions and cannot be changed or challenged.
Trying to explain to them that "the system" can do only what a human tells it to do, and that there are people within their company who have the authority to change "the system," is an exercise in futility. They respond as if I am speaking in a language from another planet. And speaking of language, the people with whom you communicate when you call Instacart speak English as a second (or third?) language, so there is always difficulty communicating. I'm not casting aspersions on people who speak English as a second language, only pointing out that communicating is difficult.
What is most frustrating, however, are the shoppers. Rude and unprofessional, they clearly do not approach being an Instacart shopper as a legitimate job. They think nothing of leaving your groceries in the cart and walking off the job. When I have talked to Kroger's staff about the Instacart nightmare, they have expressed their own troubles with the company.
Delivering groceries is a good idea, but Instacart is a bad, bad company. It probably is a process that looks good on paper, but the execution is a nightmare. Success depends on hiring good, responsible people as shoppers as opposed to hiring only people with a pulse, and giving your front-line Instacart customer service representatives at least some authority to effect change.
My advice - don't walk, RUN, from this company. Wait until another company comes in to compete and does it properly. Some young, healthy, aggressive entrepreneur should build a good company to challenge this very bad one. I will never have my groceries delivered by Instacart ever again. I know they deliver in my area for Kroger and Publix, but I want nothing to do with this company.
Horrible service. Wasted 1 hour of my valuable time on hold with customer service... For all the blunders they did, I get, "We are sorry. We will refund"... I don't care for your apologies, learn to get your act together, don't try to pin the blame on the customer. They cannot tell if I placed the order and made a late change (which I did not) or not! The shopper missed my items (or the system sucks) and they want to pin it on me. Would never use this service again if they are the last ones on this planet.
I was using Instacart long before covid existed. While it has been convenient, the shoppers have frequently picked wrong items, delivered damaged items, not delivered items I was charged for, and delivered orders that smelled so strongly of smoke, I had to unpack the bags outside. Twice they have delivered my order to the wrong address and left someone else’s order at my door. Multiple times they have arrived much later than the requested delivery time.
Since the doorbell doesn’t work, I have a request on each order to place the items in the chair on the porch and knock on the door to let me know when the groceries are there. Many times the shopper never did and all frozen/refrigerated items were ruined. There have also been several times when the shopper has placed the groceries directly in front of my storm door, which opens outward. Overall, this isn’t a major problem, but it is a nuisance when you have to knock all the groceries over onto the porch just to get out of your door.
Even with all these issues, I have continued to use Instacart for one reason. They have been willing to compensate me for most of those problems…. until now. I just received a notice that they will no longer cover their mistakes. With Instacart you pay a $9.99 monthly fee, plus another fee and tip with each order. If paying for a service, we deserve to receive the correct (undamaged) product within the timeframe agreed upon by both parties. I am completely dumbfounded by this company and will be canceling my service.
We have used Instacart throughout the pandemic. For the first time, I checked the receipt from the supermarket and found it to be about $85. Instacart had charged us $120! When I wrote them for an explanation, they refused to answer. Five times they sent back the same form email directing us to the supermarket website for details…which had no answer to my question. What a scam! We were regular customers but will never use them again.
There tried to scam you into adding a credit card, even I have clearly stated that I am not interested in their service. I am a businessman myself & I understand, every business is out there to make a profit, but I don't like their business model. When the item is on sale, you are not getting the sale price, and on top of that, there has added a fee, on top of what the supermarket is selling them for.
On top of that, none of it was communicated to you & you are paying the delivery guy a nice tip. So your order is like 20-30% on top of what is being sold at the supermarket. I wouldn't have written this review if their free trial ending email reminder is so deceiving. But, there seriously wasted a lot of my precious time, this type of trick didn't get me, but many of our none technical senior may fell into the trap & uploaded their credit card. Feel free to read this yourself.-------------------------------------------
"We wanted to thank you for giving Instacart Express a try. We hope you saved big with free delivery for the past 30 days. Your trial ends on October 12. It's a shame all good things must come to an end. Or do they? Continue the party with unlimited free deliveries! Just add a payment method and we'll take care of the rest. Steps to update your credit card: Go to your Instacart Express Account page. In the Credit Card dropdown menu, select a new card or select Add a credit card. We'll automatically renew your Express membership using cards we have on file."
I am NEVER using Instacart again, and I advise everyone else to avoid them. My girlfriend and I just arrived at an Air BNB, and we needed groceries. We waited FOUR freaking hours for our order, which was eighty dollars (even though they charged us one hundred dollars). Eventually, the order never came, and we had to cancel the order. At this time, everything closed, and we went to bed hungry. Thanks, Instacart. You screwed us over. Big time.
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