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Commission Details, instacart, On-Demand

We polled Instacart Shoppers for details on their commission rates for the week starting on November 5, 2017. As each day has different payout amounts, we asked Shoppers to share the commission details provided for their city on Monday and Tuesday, which are typically on the high and low ends of the payout scales respectively.

We had over 160 responses from Instacart Shoppers across the US. Many cities/markets contain multiple zones, each with their own specific commission payouts. For these cities, we took the average of all the different inputs. The number of respondents is included at the end of the city name. Here’s the data and some of our initial observations.

There is a wide range of variability for delivery rates between different markets.


All markets have different commission rates between Monday and Tuesday, however, some markets have greater differences than others.

There can also be wide ranges of delivery commission rates within different zones in a single market.


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instacart, On-Demand

Instacart, an on-demand grocery delivery service, recruits new shoppers with images of a single shopping bag and flowers being delivered to a residence. The customer is portrayed as a new parent that needs last minute items before cooking dinner. However, the reality of what’s being delivered and who it’s being delivered to is often a very different story.

Online communities for Instacart Shoppers are filled with discussions and pictures of bulk deliveries that Instacart demands their shoppers deliver. In many cases, the customer is not a parent getting ready to cook dinner, but rather, local and national businesses.   These commercial customers use Instacart to stock up on supplies they need to run their business. These supplies can be large and heavy bulk items and are often in large quantities.




There are many challenges with these large bulk orders

Weight and Lifting

When shoppers sign up to work for Instacart, they are required to check a box stating that they can lift 30-40 pounds. Many of these orders, however, include items that exceed 50 pounds such as bags of sugar, salt, and other items.   Often, there are multiple units of these heavy items, increasing total weight to hundreds of pounds. Instacart Shoppers are not provided training for heavy lifting or provided heavy lifting equipment such as dollies, weight belts, or cargo vans. Instead, shoppers are equipped with a shopping cart and their personal car. Many orders also require long hauls up many flights of stairs to deliver to the end customer. There have been numerous, documented instances of Instacart Shoppers being hurt on the job. As independent contractors, however, they don’t receive any help from the company. Worse yet, shoppers are punished with reliability incidents from Instacart for not accepting the next order after an injury. And during recovery time, injured shoppers lose Early Access eligibility, which hinders their ability to pick up new shifts after they heal.


Wear and Tear on Shoppers’ Cars

Working for Instacart requires a vehicle. Nowhere in the Instacart vehicle requirement, however, is any specification for the size of the vehicle or whether it can fit these large orders into the car safely. To complete their orders, shoppers often have to fill their car to the brim with these heavy and large items, creating unsafe driving conditions and adding wear and tear on the shoppers’ vehicle.

Compensation for Large, Batch Orders Needs to Change

To add insult to injury, Instacart doesn’t pay shoppers based on quantity, weight, or any other measure of effort. Instead, Instacart generally pays shoppers 40 cents per item type. For example, 198 units of 1-gallon waters weighing 1700 pounds counts as one item type. An Instacart shopper would receive 40 cents for this water delivery, the same amount they’d receive for delivering a single Snickers candy bar. This is something that Instacart should fix.

No way for Instacart Shoppers to Decline Large Orders without Repercussions

Most importantly, there is no easy way for shoppers to decline these large, bulk orders without negative consequences. Doing so can result in a Reliability Incident, which is Instacart’s form of a black mark on a shopper’s account. When a shopper receives 5 Reliability Incidents they lose the ability to schedule hours more than a day in advance. This in turn can cause the shopper to lose the majority of their income because available hours (i.e. shifts) are typically claimed much earlier than the day before.  It can take weeks, if not months for a shopper to earn back the ability to pick up hours in advance (Early Access).

In a recent incident, one Instacart Shopper in Las Vegas called Shopper Happiness, Instacart’s shopper support call center, to inform them that she was uncomfortable delivering twelve 50 pound bags of sugar. Even after telling them that the bags exceeded the 40-pound requirement that she signed up for, she was told she risked her account being deactivated if she didn’t complete the order. Since Instacart is the primary income for many shoppers, they are forced to accept these orders or face losing their livelihood.

If Instacart is going to continue to pursue these types of orders, they need to make improvements in two key areas:

  1. Don’t require shoppers to accept orders with heavy items, or large quantities that don’t fit into their vehicles. This should be an easy opt-out process and should not impact their ratings, reliability incident counts, or ability to pick up future batches.

  2. Compensate shoppers fairly for these types of orders. At a minimum, this should include larger commissions for heavy items, which should be per unit, and not by item type.

To see what other issues Instacart Shoppers would like to see changed, or to share your own ideas, click here:



food delivery, instacart
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.