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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.
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.
- Order from many stores on one order
- Direct contact with personal shopper
- Flexible delivery options
- Prices may be higher than in store
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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After having paid their insane fees, and having been told SO many items they said were in stock, that they were not-my last order with them contained 12 items, of which I received 3. I had ordered from a certain market that specializes in healthy foods. Since, I was becoming a non believer, I went to this market to chat with their manager, and look to see if indeed those foods were out of stock-they were all available. Further this manager told me they had stopped service with Instacart 2 weeks earlier, because of this exact same thing, yet I had just received 3 items (of 12) from the that morning.
When I told her that she said, "Oh no, they aren't even allowed in here, what must have happened was that they come in without any documentation, just dressed as anyone else would, and shop on their own, pay and leave. Then they not only mark up each item, but that food is no longer protected from being eaten, disturbed or otherwise messed with, and on top of that they get a delivery fee and tip, often coming to a big 20 dollars more for their service in total." I was shocked to hear that all of this was true, she affirmed it, she was very believable.
So I called Instacart and told them that since this store had barred them, I wanted to know where my food came from, and their only answer was that store, when asked to prove it, they just repeated that answer-they were then reported to the Board of Health, as the unauthorized marketing for food, the unscrutinized driving, and the possibility that the food may have been opened, eaten, or in any other way "messed with" as she had said, was now no longer protected, or insured. The report should go a long way to stopping this monopoly of a company from hurting so many, in a time when so few, have resources-in fact during this Pandemic, this type of behavior is appalling. Stay Well All...
I told them the spelling on my middle initial is wrong and I can’t fix it online. There’s no spot for it. Only have the first and last name issue and they reply to fix it online and can’t seem to get it.
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If I could give less than one star I would. I've been a user for about three years now I think? Maybe a little longer. This service was recommended to me because I'm currently disabled. I am fighting Lyme and Babesia Disease. I can't always leave the house and need help getting my groceries. In the beginning I would get a correct order in under an hour. Now, forget about even getting it in the standard 2 hours, much less getting the correct order. They just can't keep employees.
Today, I ordered from Albertsons and Sprouts, different items, of course. Both orders today were wrong. The first, I asked for 10lbs of meat to be wrapped in 2lb increments. Just like I do every single week. The recipe calls for exactly 2lbs of ground beef, and it's easy for the butcher to weigh and package it. I got two 5 lb slabs of meat. Not helpful. At all. I had to buy a food scale in order to be able to divide it into 2 lb increments. Yes, I called and complained. Yes, they refunded the amount of meat, which is great. But I would rather have correct orders.
Second order, I asked for one FULL bunch of bananas and three ORGANIC avocados. I got one single measly banana and three regular avocados, in which I have to go back tomorrow and exchange. Still waiting for a refund on these items. I don't think they have ever delivered a cantaloupe without damaging it. I even had two different shoppers just put groceries on my doorstep and walk away. No knock, nothing. Just dropped them off and left. It's a good thing that I was watching or I would have never known my ice and other perishables were sitting in the elements.
This isn't all. There are plenty of site issues. Want to try one item just to see if you like it? Be aware, it will be in "your items" forever. No way of removing it. There is no delete button. Once you buy it, you will have to look at in your items for the rest of your life. Even if you hated it. No matter what. I have more items than I can count just loitering in my item section because they didn't feel the need to allow us to remove / delete items. You can delete a facebook post, but you can't delete items from "your items."
If you would like to see a picture for every single item before you buy it, forget it. So many missing photos. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. They also don't update photos. Oh, and they don't even list all items. Ex: Sprouts carries Boiron homeopathics. They are not all listed. That's one small item, but there are dozens more that I know of. Seasonal items? Yeah, those are not listed at all. This may not be a big deal to most and that's ok, but for me, and for those that literally can't get to the store, it matters. I like others would like to purchase season holiday items. Household items, those are not all listed either. It's a toss up, you just never know what you will be able to find.
Did you know that you have to fight to get the receipt that you paid for? Yep, Instacart withholds those from you. Shoppers have bags and bags of them, Instacart never asks for them, but they also don't want you to have them. Know why? Different prices! Yep, you read that correctly. Last Christmas I was talking to a shopper, she told me all about it and the fact that they don't even give their shoppers their tips until the end of the year! Please, if you are going to attempt to use this company, please tip your shopper with cash. The website will force you to give a tip. Yeah, that happens too. So even if you had horrible service, it forces you to tip. Even if you want to give them a cash tip, it still asks for a tip.
I could go on and on. Instacart is an impossible company to work with. Regardless of how many times I call in or write in with complaints, regardless of how many refunds the offer, it's only getting worse. Way worse. There just shouldn't be this many problems. It's obvious they are not training their shoppers successfully. It's obvious they are not paying them enough to do the job. There have been many times where they have told me they don't have any shoppers for that day at all. How is that even possible if they are an upstanding company that takes care of their employees?
If one has to call or write in once per month because of bad service, that's too many times. I get it. Life is tough. I'm a business owner as well and sometimes no matter what you do you can't make someone happy. But this isn't that. This is just a terrible company. I have no problem doubling the suggested tip when I get good service. But that's pretty rare.
Seriously. Every single month it just gets worse. I've had it. I'm pulling my membership and will just go out and do my own shopping. This is unacceptable. Absolutely no excuse for continually terrible service. This company needs new ownership and a complete overhaul. Don't believe me, just ask the shoppers. They are all too happy to share stories about this company.
8/22/2020: I first contacted Instacart about a full refund on 7/22/2020, the same day the order was placed, and they finally responded today that it was "too late." The reason for the full refund is based on an emotionally abusive encounter with the driver over items the driver picked to replace items that were out of stock. The substitutions were unauthorized and the driver refused to take them back. (The driver probably thought she could get away with it because the customer is an elder/senior citizen.) The driver was mean and intimidating and showed a lack of respect or deference to the customer. The customer refused delivery on the entire order, but the driver refused to take it back. Also, although all of the text conversations were documented on Instacart’s order page, they were not considered by Instacart, and the full refund was refused.
Instacart has responded to my concerns and have fully resolved the issues at hand to satisfaction. I'm very pleased! I’m grateful for my parents as they will feel secure continuing to use instacart as they were hoping since their service enables them to stay safely at home during this pandemic.
Be careful if you are using Instacart. Ordering is easy but customer service has proved to be less than efficient and helpful. Because of COVID-19 I started ordering my parents who are over 65 with health issues, groceries through instacart. It was going great. I eventually was able to talk my dad through the process so he could do the orders himself, and that was going well until last week. He put in a nice order and received delivery through instacart. But then 20 minutes later another person showed up with the same order. My parents, being kind and feeling bad for the girl delivering who informed them the groceries couldn’t be refunded, which of course is understandable, let her leave the groceries.
My father never got an alert about the second order that it was being shopped or questions, or that it was on its way. This is where there’s a problem. My dad called to inform instacart there must be a mistake because they just received the same order twice and the customer service personnel was very nice and put him on hold a few times but then told him, "I’m sorry. Groceries can’t be returned. There’s nothing we can do." My father was charged twice!!
This is my problem... 1) How did a duplicate order go through? How did no one at instacart catch that and call my father to question the second order? 2) Then when my father tries to reach out and resolve the issue he gets a “sorry we can’t do anything” response? They are on a fixed income. And I’m seriously upset with instacart's poor customer service.
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