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On October 16, an #Instacart Shopper in Las Vegas logged into her InstaShopper app as she always does. She’s an independent contractor, known as a “shopper” for Instacart. She delivers groceries for as many as 70 hours per week for the on-demand grocery delivery service. She expected this to be another order of household groceries. However, this wasn’t a typical day. Her day ended in urgent care, diagnosed with a popped tendon in her neck as a result of heavy lifting, an injury that could take 3 weeks to heal. She was paid a total of $8.20 by Instacart and left to pay her own medical bills. 

When the Shopper received this order from Instacart, it requested delivery of twelve 50 lb. bags of sugar and a 35 lb container of oil for a local business. Concerned about the excessive weight, she contacted Instacart support, known as Shopper Happiness, to express concern about lifting the bags. Even after stating that the 50 lb bags exceeded Instacart’s 40 lb requirement for shoppers, she was told by Instacart that she risked deactivation from the app if she didn’t complete the order. Out of fear of losing her job, she proceeded with the order, delivering 10 of the 12 bags of sugar. The last 2 bags wouldn’t fit in her personal car. 

While pulling the final 50 lb bag of sugar from her car, something popped in her neck. The pain was so extreme, she became nauseated. She couldn’t drive her own car and eventually had to take a rideshare service to urgent care. To make things worse, Instacart issued her a “Reliability Incident” for not completing her shift. A “reliability incident” is Instacart speak for a black mark that can lead to a shopper’s termination.

The Shopper asked Instacart for help to resolve this incident and Instacart’s response was disappointing. She received an email that said these types of injuries are customary for worker’s compensation claims, which will not apply in this instance, and therefore, that she should escalate matters with her own insurance carrier. In addition, the Shopper’s next phone call was escalated to another representative in Shopper Happiness who told her that she was misinformed by the first person she spoke to and that she wasn’t required to lift the heavy bags. 

We see several problems with Instacart’s behavior:

1. Instacart shoppers are signing up to for grocery delivery, not commercial or freight delivery. Delivering 600 lb of sugar typically comes from a delivery service that is equipped and trained with dollies, weight belts, and commercial delivery vehicles and lifts. Rather, Instacart demanded that a 120 lb Shopper who signed up to deliver groceries should do the task of a commercial freight company, though without any training or commercial moving equipment.

2. Instacart requires shoppers to be able to lift 40 lb. This shopper was required to lift significantly more than that, even after contacting Instacart and telling them that there were twelve 50 lb bags that exceeded the maximum weight.

3. Instacart isn’t helping one of their own workers who was injured on the very job they sent her on. 

4. While on medical leave, this shopper will likely lose “early access” to preferred Instacart shifts. Instacart is her full-time job, not a side job. Without “early access,” this shopper will likely not receive enough orders to make working for Instacart viable. 

Why isn’t Instacart helping one of their own workers? What do you think about this situation? Please share with others to make sure Instacart does the right thing for this shopper and improves these unacceptable working conditions.