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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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I placed an order with Instacart and bought some groceries online at Publix. Never received the delivery, so I reached out to them to request a full refund. The photo the shopper took isn't even my house! After all of this, my account was deactivated wrongfully and they won't reactivate it, nor refund me the $101.44. That isn't right!
I ordered and paid for The Prisoner wine for $51.99 a bottle, but they didn't have it in stock. The default wine, Josh Legacy, was only $15.99. The delivery guy brought it without a receipt and I was still charged the full amount. Talking with customer "CARE" has not helped at all. They won't refund the difference. I even paid extra for the expedited delivery, and it was LATE. And I tipped $20.00 for the delivery person on the app ahead of time. So I paid $88.83 for a late $15.99 bottle of wine, and got ZERO satisfaction from Instacart's customer "CARE" person Shreya. NOT USING INSTACART AGAIN!
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Thanks to Instacart I have a lifetime supply of Drano. At least I was able to stop the most recent mistake, which was a bottle of wine 5x the cost of the one I selected that was out of stock, but also not the one I put on the replacement list. I honestly don't know why they bother asking you to select your preference for replacements. The shopper tried to blame the wine mistake on their app. Like most companies, the people on the front line have to take the brunt of the blame. I do believe their app is flawed.
I had deliveries that were mixed up by inability of shopper to communicate with office on charges, items, etc. They were not allowed to call us while shopping. They had to use some confusing app. I was often overcharged. Charged items I didn’t receive. Overcharged on some. Terrible to their delivery people who they tried to blame problems on! Right as the COViD scare broke out they took advantage of these poor girls. This is what I saw, not what they said. They were glad to have a job. One poor girl was in tears. I was there and heard their lies. A year after I cancelled this sloppy service, they tried billing me a renewal fee. Look at their reviews and see how they are manipulated by them to look authentic. They are so bad I pay a friend to shop for me at Publix rather than use Instacart.
The customer service rep was empathetic to my situation and I applaud her for that. She was given a difficult task since I was livid about my experience with Instacart. I created a curbside pickup on Friday. After seeing a pickup time that was too late I chose Saturday morning. I kept the order PC window open so I could keep updated on that order. The bar never moved! I opened the phone app and window was stuck on a 'we'll notify you' window. Pickup scheduled for 10-11 AM. By 10:45 I went to Aldi and was told by the manager that they haven't had curbside for over a month! And that Instacart does not allow notice on their site. So...there is no way for a customer to know the service does not exist. I consider that a form of fraud. Advertising a service that is not provided. Again, I'm fine with CS but as far as Instacart I will not use unless totally necessary in the future.
The customer service department said they would deliver between 1 and 3 then 8 then 11:45. Rude, hard to understand and liars. Ruined our vacation and caused us to spend more money on take out food because we didn't have our groceries. Why take the order if you can't fulfill it and they didn't even let us know.
I was a Instacart subscriber for a number of years. I recently had major surgery and was planning on using Instacart to pick up groceries for me. When I tried to set up the delivery, I was not able to get it to work so I called the company. They told me that my account was being reviewed (they said it was a routine review) and that I would not be able to use the account until they completed the review in several days. I have never been delinquent in payment and do not know why the review was taking place and I received no notice of the review. I told them I had just had surgery and was relying on them to deliver groceries to me. They refused to fix it so I could order groceries and I ended up having to drive to a grocery store even though I had just had surgery. I have terminated my account since they clearly are not reliable.
I use Instacart all the time for work and home. The idea is great but application is kind iffy to say the least. Not once have I ordered and not had to return or replace something. Today I ordered four items - one item did not come in the size advertised in that store, the other was out of stock so I canceled the other two items. In past orders, I've paid for expedited delivery and had shoppers accept my order then later it will be reassigned to someone else and after all that it's no longer expedited and for sure they don't have everything advertised. Like one of the other reviewers mentioned, I've had good luck with Costco orders but Safeway, Metropolitan Market and Fred Meyers is always a crapshoot because you know what is listed online is not what will be available when the shopper goes to shop.
Instacart is ok for fast limited number of goods like Costco, but for other groceries who have long lists of many different types goods like Foodsco, Safeway, and virtually all other supermarkets, Instacart is very unreliable. I ordered specific meat and fish products from Foodsco's website twice and twice, the shoppers said they weren't available even though they were stated as available on the websites. My main reasons for shopping at these places were for those 2 items. I would also be given other items that were replacement/substitutions and/or unavailable.
When I compare Amazon Fresh to Instacart, Amazon Fresh is a much better food delivery service vs Instacart. Virtually everything on Amazon Fresh's website is available. I rarely get replacements/substitutions at Amazon Fresh. Their product list may not be as vast as the other supermarkets, but their food delivery service is reliable and I never need to speak to the shopper about replacements or unavailability. For Instacart, the integration between the websites, the groceries product updates, and impatient shoppers (who have very little knowledge of the supermarkets) is very badly coordinated. When I tried to get my refunds, Instacart was difficult to reach and very hard to deal with when I complained to my bank.
I ordered an item. They did not have it in stock. Without asking my permission, they delivered a different item. I do not want the different item. I want my money back. I tried to fill out their complaint form. It would not submit. Go figure.
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