- Instacart employees said customers have been tip baiting to entice them to make deliveries, promising large tips only to remove the funds retroactively once orders are complete.
- “It’s very demoralizing,” Instacart employee Annaliisa Arambula told CNN Business. “When you know that it’s somebody who’s just doing it to game the system and to get their order when they want it, it’s really frustrating.”
- Instacart workers had originally asked for tip protections during a strike for increased protections and hazard pay in late March.
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As grocery stores and online delivery services struggle to respond to overwhelming consumer demand during the coronavirus, customers are turning to ruthless methods.
Instacart employees said customers are enticing them with hefty tips, only to retroactively remove them for the order, leading to an influx of canceled or reduced tips in recent weeks. As reported by CNN Business, an employee in Portland, Oregon said she was “flabbergasted” after the $55 she was slated to receive in tips from an order suddenly disappeared, leaving her earnings at just $8.95 from Instacart’s batch payment fee.
“It’s very demoralizing,” Annaliisa Arambula, the Portland Instacart employee, told CNN. “I don’t pretend to be a hero, like a nurse in a hospital … but I literally am exposing myself [to coronavirus] and when I return home, exposing my own family to the possibility of transmitting this disease. When you know that it’s somebody who’s just doing it to game the system and to get their order when they want it, it’s really frustrating.”
The tip baiting comes after Instacart employees staged a strike in late March calling for adequate safety gear to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, hazard pay of an additional $5 per order, and an automatic 10% tip, among other requests.
In response, Instacart executives said they would provide precautions like hand sanitizer and claimed it would use a customers’ last tip as the default on new orders — efforts Instacart workers said was not enough.
“Workers should not be risking their lives for pocket change,” Instacart workers said in a statement at the time. “Setting the tip amount to whatever a customer had previously tipped is ridiculous, because most previous customers would have tipped a different (lesser) amount back when things were more normal. This will, in all likelihood, provide no meaningful benefit to Shoppers.”
Instacart workers have had to contend with challenging conditions, as empty store shelves and limited availability have created difficulty in completing orders. Employees have also had to juggle high volumes of orders with mass amounts of items, as homebound Americans look to stock up on essentials.
While Instacart told users in an email to “please consider tipping above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper,” the company hasn’t established any efforts to prevent tip baiting. A spokesperson told CNN that tips are determined by customers, but declined to comment on canceled tips.
“We always say: No matter what, never trust a tip,” an employee in Pennsylvania told CNN.
Instacart had not yet responded to a request for comment.