Instacart Changes Tipping Policy After Driver’s Tip-Baiting Exposed

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The company let customers bait Instacart drivers with huge tips then remove them after the delivery

Instacart Drivers Tip Baiting Exposed
Image: Instacart

After an investigation into “tip-baiting” practices, the grocery delivery service Instacart has decided to make changes to its tipping policy.

Instacart reported that it was common practice for Instacart customers to bait-and-switch Instacart drivers by offering large tips, only to cancel the gratuity after the delivery was completed.

Instacart announced through a blog post that it has started requesting feedback from customers if they remove a tip after delivery has already been completed. To curb the occurrence of tip-baiting, the company announced that they will deactivate “any customer who consistently and egregiously engages in this type of tip-baiting behavior.”

In the same blog post, Instacart also claimed that only less than 0.5% of all Instacart orders have tips removed after delivery. They claim that the occurrence is rare, but have acknowledged that it is quite disappointing for shoppers to see a tip diminish in value after an order has already been marked as completed.

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Instacart Shopper Driver

Instacart has also taken things a  step further by announcing that they will shorten the window of time that a customer can alter their tip from three days to a mere 24 hours. In addition to this, Instacart is also expanding its in-app cash-out feature to include tips. This will allow shoppers to already receive the additional income from a job only 24 hours after an order has been completed.

The company stated that it plans to implement an option for its shoppers to view feedback when a tip is removed. This is not the first public controversy Instacart had to face. In 2019, Instacart was accused of tip stealing by counting customer’s tips toward a shopper’s guaranteed payment minimum. Since then, Instacart has changed its policy to enforce a more transparent system of allocating tips.

The coronavirus pandemic seems to have played a big role in this new tip-baiting behavior. With many people being forced to stay home, demand for grocery delivery services has skyrocketed in the past few months. At times, many customers have reportedly struggled to place orders for items that they want, due to the high level of demand on Instacart and lack of workers. As a response to the high demand and scarcity of workers, tip-baiting was born. As unemployment rates grew dramatically as the coronavirus began spreading, many Instacart shoppers began relying on the grocery delivery service as their primary and only source of income. Some malicious Instacart users found that they could ensure high-quality service amid the lack of Instacart shoppers by promising large tips. Unfortunately, many users chose to withdraw the tips after-the-fact.

Instacart has drawn criticism from its workers for not doing enough to ensure they’re sufficiently protected and compensated throughout the pandemic. Strikes against Instacart have been held by workers nationwide demanding better compensation in the form of hazard pay and a default tip of 10%.

A group of Senators led by Senator Brian Schatz has also decided to get involved in the matter. They have recently called for the FTC to open an investigation into Instacart’s tipping system.

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