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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.
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Lyft, Uber
Check out what Uber Drivers are saying at dumpling.us

Following the recent removal of CEO, Travis Kalanick, Uber is trying to make fast changes to its treatment of drivers and their driving experience in an effort to show these drivers how committed the company is to them. One of these changes was an option for drivers to receive tips, something their drivers had long been asking for. Another change was the implementation of a policy to notify drivers when they accept a ride that includes travel longer than 45 minutes. As more changes are being implemented during Uber’s 180 Days of Change, many drivers believe that another issue should be addressed: ride cancellations.


An Uber driver in Seattle, WA shared their frustration with the current ride cancellation policy and fees on dumpling:

“I wish that the cancellation fee was higher and that the [cancellation] fee money came to us drivers… Every time someone cancels we as driver[s] lose out and we don’t get compensated.”


Accepting a ride doesn’t always guarantee a payment for Uber drivers. Sometimes a customer may decide to cancel the ride several minutes after accepting the transportation from the Uber driver. According to Uber’s website, the company’s ride cancellation policy is that riders will be charged a fee if they: cancel the trip more than 5 minutes after the driver accepts the trip (this is has been reduced to 2 minutes in some cities), or if the driver arrives at the destination and cancels the trip after waiting more than 5 minutes for the customer to show.


Despite the fees charged for canceled rides or no-shows, rides are routinely canceled and drivers are not compensated for their gas or time spent traveling, even if they are more than halfway to the destination or traveled the full distance. This is a policy that many drivers would like to change. Another Uber driver in Seattle, WA recently shared this idea on dumpling:

“I would like it as a driver [that] once I accept a fare and am on the way that I know I will be compensated. Even if the passenger no shows or cancel[s]. It’s frustrating to be on the way to a job and have it cancelled with no compensation.”


Long rides to the airport and across town can be a lucrative or disappointing experience for Uber drivers depending largely on whether the customer decides to cancel the ride before the driver arrives at the destination. Not only are drivers not compensated for canceled rides, but the driver also loses their place at the front of long lines for on-demand drivers at many airports, and valuable time that could have been used to transport other paying customers. An Uber driver in the San Francisco Bay Area had this to say on the topic:

“There are times when I travel up to 2 miles to get to a restaurant and as soon as I arrive the customer cancels the order. They don’t give cancellation fees. It’s a waste of my time and energy. Other times someone else will pick up my order and I’m not paid for that as well. Ridiculous.”


Uber drivers: do you lose money due to canceled rides? What changes would you like Uber to make? Share your ideas at dumpling to make your voice heard and to start a movement to have them implemented: http://bit.ly/dumpling-us.

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Lyft, On-Demand, Uber

On-demand ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft recruit drivers with guarantees about covering them with car insurance. This allows the driver the option of using their own car to transport customers during their shifts, which can range from a few times a week to everyday and may add up to hundreds of miles.

These policies are an effort to provide incentives for these on-demand drivers to use their own cars more frequently without worrying about the additional risk that comes along with being on the road significantly more.

The Lyft insurance policy that is advertised on the driver section of the Lyft website states:

“Lyft provides additional insurance policies, at no cost to the driver. We worked with leading insurance carriers to provide various coverages including: commercial auto liability insurance up to $1M per occurrence, contingent collision insurance for drivers who carry collision coverage on their personal auto policy, and coverage for bodily injury caused by uninsured/underinsured motorists when you are engaged in a ride.”

However, some Lyft drivers believe the insurance guarantees are unclear and unfair, which causes some drivers to shoulder the costs of accidents and vehicle maintenance. According to this San Francisco Lyft driver,

“I got my car dented while working on the job and thought that my car was insured by Lyft but they now say we are only insured if it is a passenger that does the damage not a third party.”

Does your on-demand job have clear insurance policies? Share your experiences and insights with us at https://dumpling.us/.

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Lyft, On-Demand, Uber

On-demand service companies like Uber, Lyft and Instacart promote themselves as employers that provide flexible schedules by letting employees choose when and where they want to work. This can enable them to set schedules after work, class, during a commute, etc. to make extra money.

Uber recruit’s employees based on the claim, “You can drive with Uber anytime, day or night, 365 days a year. When you drive is always up to you, so it never interferes with the important things in your life.”

Unfortunately, Uber drivers on dumpling have explained the realities of on-demand driving, which is that drivers experience anything but free schedules. One Uber driver in San Francisco, CA wrote,

“I only ever drive if I’m on my way somewhere, so I use the destination feature. It consistently takes me out of my way or the opposite direction and makes my trip way longer. If it’s not on the way don’t give me the ride.”

Instacart, an on-demand service where employees shop for and deliver groceries to customers, promotes that employees can “schedule work around your own life.” However, some locations take the driver miles outside of their preferred driving locations. An Instacart employee from San Francisco stated,

“you must work a minimum amount of 40 hours to get the areas that you want the most.”

Another issue that prevents flexible schedules at on-demand jobs is surge pricing, which changes according to supply and demand from customers. Driving outside of surge times can lead to wasting gas on dead hours, when there are no customers. This means that in order to turn a profit, on-demand employees must follow the demand of surge times that occur infrequently and not during their desired work times.

According to CityLab, an online media site, this forces on-demand employees to only work during surge times because fairs at certain times are too low and they have a hard time finding customers.

Has your experience working for on-demand service jobs allowed you more flexibility with work scheduling? Share and post your opinions at dumpling: https://dumpling.us/.

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