Instacart Lowers Grocery Delivery Rates – Paid Shoppers Aren’t Happy

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Instacart Kroger Delivery

If you’ve been wanting to try Instacart, now may be a good time as they’ve lowered their delivery fees and membership rates in an effort to compete with Amazon. The next-day delivery fee for participating markets is now just $3.99 on orders of $35 or more (previously $5.99).

Plus, the Instacart Express membership, which offers unlimited FREE delivery on orders of $35 or more, now costs just $99 per year instead of $149. Also, there is no longer a 5% service fee for Express members. However, while this news was welcomed by Instacart customers, unfortunately, many of Instacart’s paid shoppers aren’t happy with it.

But why?

Instacart shopper in store

According to this article, hundreds of the 70,000 shoppers Instacart employs on a contract basis have taken to social media and Reddit forums to say that they plan to boycott the company as it has rolled out a new payment structure in some areas of the United States over the last month and has cut their wages.

This article also says that customers may be experiencing delays with their orders because some of Instacart’s shoppers are now rejecting more jobs that don’t make financial sense.

If you’re an Instacart customer or shopper, what are your thoughts on these changes? Will you continue to use the service? If you’re a shopper, are you happy with your paycheck?

grocery services — instacart shopper holding bag of groceries

Not familiar with Instacart?

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that delivers groceries to your door in as little as one hour. They connect you with Personal Shoppers in your area who pick up and deliver your groceries from your favorite local stores. While they don’t honor in-store sales and coupons, there are sales and promotions available on Instacart that may not be available in-store, so keep your eyes peeled!

Plus, you can currently score $10 off your FIRST $35 order whenever you use promo code CMORGAN1B213A at checkout OR score free delivery on your first $35 order through this link!

Join The Discussion

Comments 45

  1. Nikita

    Paid Shopper here…I reject any orders that make no financial sense for me to shop. The new pay scale has taken away large order bumps and mileage is not properly calculated. I also no longer grab orders that contain multiple cases of water and soft drinks because it is just not worth it to lug all of those heavy containers up multiple flights of stairs for a $10 payout.

    • jade

      i dont blame you!

  2. Ang

    I am a customer and use them weekly. I love the service and the shoppers are very good at selecting the items. I do enjoy the lower delivery price but I also tip very well hoping to compensate for their cut.

    • Amy

      One thing you could do to help out is add an initial tip of $0, then after delivery change your top to whatever you’d like! One things they’re doing is including your tip in their bottom line so let’s say you place an order and include a $4 tip… Instacart is sending the order to a shopper saying here’s an order and you’ll make $10 on it; $6 for the order plus a $4 tip! Now, if you include no tip Instacart sends the order to a shopper and says here’s an order and you’ll make $10 on it and the customer may add a tip later; shopper completes the order for $10 and then if I customer adds a tip it’s on top of the $10 they made for the order! I know it sounds incredibly wrong but this is a HUGE issue with the new way Instacart is paying! 🙁 (Paid shopper here)

      • Jodi P

        Wait…… if you include the tip in the order form, the shopper doesn’t actually receive the tip, because the company just pays less of their share? Unbelievable.

        • staceyf

          Yes. Instacart is supplementing it’s pay with your generous tip.
          Another thing you can do is tip outside the app. We know these days no one has cash, but you can also ask the Shopper if they have a Venmo/PayPal/CashApp/etc account that you might also have. Just tip through a completely different payment service.

  3. Stephanie Dupuie

    I am a shopper with a membership. I use it because I don’t have a car right now. For one, I’ve noticed that their food prices are higher in general. For instance, a BOGO listed at Publix for $3.99 will be BOGO on Instacart for $4.79. Also, you can’t use coupons…so this is definitely not a money saver. Between higher prices, delivery fees and tips, I’d say I spend about $30 more on an average weekly order that going to the store, but it’s a necessity for me right now. Also, I don’t know how the drivers are paid so I’ve usually just done the “suggested” tip that’s already in there. It’s hard because I want to tip accordingly and not short the driver but I’m also on a tight budget and can’t afford to be overly generous

    • staceyf

      First, it sounds like you are a customer with a membership, not a personal shopper.

      Second, Instacart default to a 5% tip is pretty new, and also pretty demeaning. You should really be tipping 10-15% for a personal shopper (and I’m being conservative). See above for suggestions on how to tip the shopper outside the app. Remember, cash is king. Any shopper would appreciate a $5 or $10 cash tip over tipping in the app if you cannot afford much because…. instacart also steals our tips. I’d hate for you to think you’re tipping your shopper and the shopper thinks you never tip. We do keep lists of non and poor tippers. We have to. Instacart is barely paying is and we cannot work for free.

      One lay thing. Yes, instacart marks up its groceries. They’re a reseller. It may be cheaper for you to get a ride with a friend once a week.

      I hope this helps.


    Never used the service and I’m not a paid shopper, but I don’t blame the shoppers at all for rejecting orders that don’t make financial sense. If instacart can compete without their shoppers making a decent wage then they shouldn’t be in business. My two cents!

  5. Beth

    I ordered from them once and they didn’t show up three times of when my delivery was scheduled for (I called after they didn’t show up and they rescheduled) them they finally just cancelled the order for me as I didn’t still need the same groceries weeks later. Bad experience with them.

    • Betty

      I’ve noticed that their shoppers customer service is going downhill as well. A shopper called me basically yelling at me that she couldn’t find the house. I was polite and tried giving her directions, and it took over 45 minutes for her to get to my house from when she first called. I could have walked from where she was originally in 10. Then told me I DON’T LIVE AROUND HERE. I gave crystal clear directions (I’m a special ed teacher and that’s basically my job; task analysis) and was still super rude. Disappointed overall

  6. Amanda

    I tried their express membership trial. It took 4 attempts to get my first order. They didn’t notify me that nobody was coming until AFTER the store closed the first two times. I kept checking the order status the third time and saw that no one had started shopping it yet, so I called them. I ended up with $65 in courtesy credit due to all the issues. They eventually delivered that order about two weeks after the original order date. I cancelled the trial for obvious reasons!
    When I attempted to use the $65 credit for my second order, hoping they’d worked out the kinks, it took three attempts to get my order delivered. I had to leave work early to be home for the delivery because the shopper was shopping two hours before scheduled! Then they charged me for delivery AFTER it was delivered despite having a promo for free delivery. They took two weeks to resolve that and issue my refund. Luckily I took screenshots of the order when it was placed showing the promo and courtesy credits. The potential convenience was not worth the stress it caused. I’d never use Instacart again and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

    • c

      I had exactly this same experience.
      I was never able to use the credits they gave me though. They never went through and I didnt think to take screenshots.
      I just had them close my account.

  7. acgold

    I used them through Costco to get a 40lb. bag of dog food. They were on time and I tipped the delivery guy. Was going to use them again this month. Will have to think about it

    • Pat

      I use google express for Costco. It’s usually delivered within a day or two.

  8. Juanmiguel

    Please please please listen to the following- Instacart must be exposed for purposely inflating their individual grocery items by 10% – 25% of their original in store pricing! This isn’t disclosed anywhere on their site! We only came upon this because on several occasions the delivery driver left the original receipt in the bags! (They’re not supposed to let you see it)

    • Liz

      Yes i have had this happen to me of the reasons that i closed my account.

      • Kim B

        Yes, Shipt does the same thing! The prices get higher and higher even though at the actual store the items are on sale. I had my fill when a 6 pack of Pepsi was $2.99 at Kroger but Shipt was charging me $6.09.

    • Sally

      It actually does say on the site that prices may be higher than what you find in-store. That’s why I haven’t tried it so far.

      • Kim B

        Actually, they didn’t disclose this in the beginning. Many people complained and they must have finally put the disclosures on their site. They only said that they didn’t accept coupons and their annual fees covered their cost.

    • Elizabeth

      Sorry – – – but it IS disclosed on the site. Their prices ARE higher than what is in the store and it states just that on the very top of every page when I enter the store name in the search bar I want to order from. They do have to make money. Without them, and other companies like them our only option will be Amazon and when they are the only game in town you tell me how high their prices will go

      • NV2007

        Except we lived without grocery delivery for a lifetime so, while it’s a wonderful convenience and perhaps even a necessity for some that are home bound for one reason or another, it’s nothing more than a luxury for most of us. I have very little time to grocery shop like most others so I often hit up the store at 5am at opening while my house is sleeping. It stinks, but it is better than the inflated Instacart prices (and yes, they need to make a profit so I understand it). The thing is, if Instacart wasn’t around, many chains would do like Stop & Shop (here in the North East) has done with their “Peapod” program for years and years (same with another chain called Roche Brothers). They have their own individualized services, they charge a service fee, but you pay the store prices and it’s GREAT. Such a nice luxury to enjoy, to be honest. Amazon will never be the only show in town so long as we continue to patronize other establishments.

        • andream-melton

          We have a small store in town where you can either have your groceries delivered for free or you can order online or call and pick the order up at the drive thru. The prices are comparable to the only grocery store in town, Food Lion (well, we also have a Save A Lot but they don’t carry any name brands.) The only problem with it is that they have a small selection, as they’re only the size of a convenience store. But if you just need a gallon of milk or some snacks, they’re great! I always promote them bc they’re not in a very visible spot and not a lot of people know about them. Only reason I know about them is I was working for a company that builds web sites and they met with us about designing their site. Really, all I use them for is to buy cigarettes when the weather is bad or I don’t feel like changing from my pajamas. I know they’d get more business if they could sell alcohol at the drive thru, but our state doesn’t allow that.

  9. Jen

    Never actually got Instacart. I tried ordering once – I had everything in my cart, including a 2-hour delivery range. It got switched to deliver the next day and I was done shopping! I don’t blame Instacart workers for being upset! The pay seems unfair. I won’t bother with Instacart. Really this is all First World problems. Aren’t we blessed to even discuss this? That said, I have had some success with Walmart grocery pickup. They are usually out of one thing and subsitite a bit strangely but I can’t complain when it’s so convenient. Any thoughts on Target Order Pickup?

    • Rachel

      I’ve been doing the Target drive up like crazy for the past two weeks! I’m addicted at the ease! It’s been great for me!

  10. Crystal

    All delivery services like Instacart, shipted, Doordash, postmates, Uber…. charge more for items than if you had purchased personally with the store. There is contract with store/restaurant that delivery service also get a portion of the sales. Hence the increased price for the goods. Driver/shoppers do not get the delivery fee either. It’s just the payout and the tip is often included not in addition to. It’s part of the price that is paid for convenience of service.

  11. Lindsay

    I’ve used instacart on vacation and it was excellent. I loved being able to text and chat with my shopper. However, the expenses were high all around, but I was on vacation and had limited time and access to store. As an individual who has some time and enjoys grocery shopping, their fees are a bit too high for me.

    In my midwestern grocery store chain (Hy-Vee), they offer several options: 2.99 to pick up (free over $100) or delivery at 5.99 (again, free over $100 order). Both of these options use employees of the store for shopping and delivery. The prices/fees are incredibly reasonable. This service is invaluable and affordable.

  12. NV2007

    I would be angry as a shopper for Instacart as well. I honestly didn’t understand how this whole model would be sustainable long-term. Most of the grocery chains in my area moved from store pick-up service (or no such service) to Instacart and it was really disappointing. The prices are higher, the delivery fees are reasonable but I don’t “trust” the window (been there/done that with other services) and I just really didn’t get how EVERY single store in our area could sustain this service given that they rely so much on independent contractors picking up the “job.” I really miss that my grocery store used to have pick up service. I would have happily paid even more of a service fee if they just kept that service going. 🙁

  13. Elle

    I have been a Paid Shopper for over a year. My pay is now 1/4 of what it was when I first started and the new pay structure has not even started yet for my area. (Yes you read that correctly) Instacart is also taking away our $100 quality bonuses for the week if we give great service. The new bonus will require us to work 80+ hours to be able to get anywhere close to this. Instacart has sadly has the “every employee deserves a trophy” mentality limiting the amount their top shoppers make and having them not work until others in the area have the same average per hour amount. I love my job and am a top shopper in my state however it has come time to find something else. I can no longer support my family.

  14. Pixel

    I have been using Instacart for about 18 months now. I am very happy with it! I am a single mom 24/7 so it helps to have someone else do last minute grocery runs. I find good deals on Instacart for Sprouts and Natural Grocers. They are the two stores I use most. I don’t think their prices are inflated at all. At one point I was getting avocados in the summer for $.09 each! There have been times shoppers make a mistake but Instacart immediately refunds the item. I’m sure every experience is different but I have been happy with instacart.

    • Melissa

      Please make sure when you do tip after your items have been delivered then the shopper will get the full tip from the customer.

    • staceyf

      Tip in cash, tip outside the app via another P2P payment service (just ask the shopper if they have whatever account you use-Venmo/PayPal/etc). The very last option would to be to tip in the instacart app ONLY after delivery.

  15. Greta

    I used the service when their 5% service fee was optional. I figured $135.00 a year plus good tip was what I could budget. When they added back in the 5%, I figured it was a luxury I couldn’t afford. With the lower rates I may have to indulge again. It’s too bad they can’t keep their drivers happy though… its not worth $99 if the drivers won’t deliver.

  16. Susan Crawford

    Where I live there are Krogers, Martin’s Super Market, a local grocery chain, Target, Meijer’s, Walmart all within 15 minutes of my home. Martin’s has a flat fee of $4.99 for groceries and you can pick up at the store. What I am trying to say is I do not use these services but I can understand why people do. Instacart is royally screwing their shoppers. I was reading on a Reddit sub about what is happening and I can see how these paid shoppers are getting screwed. Until people decide to stop using them, nothing will change. I think the people who started this company need to come out and see what it is like to do the job and then maybe they could appreciate what the shoppers are complaining about. Never going to happen.

  17. Snazzytea

    I’ve used them several times and didn’t find that is was worth it. The prices are higher + delivery fee + service fee = not worth the $. My produce is usually bad (smashed because of careless bagging or moldy/bruised) and I’ve gotten expired items. If I’m not in the mood to go into a store, pick up is a better option for me. I get the store prices, the sale prices and can use coupons.

  18. Melissa

    I’m a shopper and sad to see this happening an order that I got offered last week to shop I was offered $16.88 for it including tip and it was a big order. On the old pay structure the commision and items to shop for would have been $25 and not including tip. The items would’ve been easy to shop for, but it wasn’t worth my time, with the old pay structure I wouldn’ve taken it in a heartbeat. Please make sure if you are a customer that you tip after your delivery then us shoppers will get the full tip instead of Instacart paying us with your tip.

    • sharon

      I had no idea that the shopper didn’t receive the whole tip that I’ve been paying!! If I do place an order and don’t put a tip amount I’m worried the shopper will think I’m not tipping. How will they know I’m going to add it afterward? Thanks so much for the insight!

      • staceyf

        Some are customers use $0.22 as a sign that they will tip after delivery.

        Best to tip in cash, Venmo, PayPal, etc.

        • sharon

          Fabulous! What a great idea. Thank you so much! Now I can make sure the shoppers that take my orders get taken care of too. 🙂

      • Amy

        I believe you could also add a customer note saying you’ll add a tip after delivery!

  19. Amy

    I was planning to use Instacart for the first time my on vacation next week. After reading these comments, I’m kind of terrified that all the time and effort I’ve invested in meal planning for my family will be wasted and we’ll be scrambling to find restaurants. I was prepared to pay higher prices and to tip the delivery person, but if no one is willing to deliver my order I’m going to be pretty upset!

  20. Margaret V

    Ive been using it for a month for all my grocery shopping (aldi) and it’s been incredible. Always on time. Prices are sometimes the same and sometimes 5 or 9 cents higher than in the store, but the company has to make money. Overall it’s worth it for me because it saves gas and time and impulse shopping.

  21. Anthony

    Eesh with the new wave of delivery everything at a click of a button it’s hard to compete. Now with Walmart’s pick up curbside program I can’t help but use it for the convenience factor. (I usually hate going to Walmart cause of the crowded stores and long check out lines).

  22. FL-lady

    Instacart is terrible. I had to fight tooth and nail to get a refund on items not delivered. It took weeks to get them to pay for the butter not delivered (about 6.00) and they would never pay for the ice cream not delivered (11.00). It’s not a lot of money but it’s the principle. I had multiple emails from the company about the problem so I contacted Amex and asked them to intervene. All I wanted back was what was owed to me by Instacart but Amex ended up refunding me the entire cost of the grocery trip (over $100). After this incident Instacart blocked my account and deleted it.

    I too had no show deliveries. And each time I used them the drivers got worse and worse…rude, dressed in pajamas, car full of screaming kids, and another time a very very sketchy companion as the driver to the shopper. My being lazy isn’t worth getting robbed or something.

  23. Amy

    I’ve been using Instacart since the end of 2016 when I became house-bound. The service has definitely gone downhill in the last few months, with shoppers abandoning bags on the porch (to get stolen) instead of bringing them upstairs. (Which is the whole reason I use instacart. I’m on crutches now but still can’t carry anything, especially not upstairs with my hands full of crutches.) The quality is also definitely worse than shopping for yourself or using an ethical service like GoodEggs. I have learned to just expect the bananas will be bruised, etc. There’s a petition here to try to improve the situation for the workers:

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