MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Instacart is supposed to make your life easier by shopping for you, but many have experienced being over-billed or not getting what they ordered.
For some, going to the store is the old way of shopping. But at least you are guaranteed to know what you are getting and exactly how much you are paying.
However, some people seek the convenience of online grocery delivery. “We don’t normally get groceries delivered. But the first time we tried, it was just a bad experience,” said Kameron, an Instacart customer who talked to us by phone.
He is one of many who contacted WREG with complaints about the shopping service. He tried it for the first time last December and got a surprise when the driver delivered his order.
“What we ordered was somewhere around $175 worth of groceries,” said Kameron. “And the receipt we received when we dropped our groceries off was around $400. Half the items that were on that receipt were things we didn’t order and were also not dropped off during that delivery either.”
Instacart promised a refund for the items.
“They said they had it taken care of and that we would be receiving our refund for the items we didn’t order. They said it would take roughly two weeks,” Kameron said.
So he decided to give it another try. But on the second order, the same thing happened. “At this point, I was very, very furious.”
He went back to the grocery store and Instacart for answers. “A lot of them just didn’t believe us. They thought we were lying to get free groceries.”
So he saved the video from his home camera that showed the few bags the Instacart driver delivered to his home — far fewer than what you would expect if he had gotten $500 worth of groceries.
“It was mind-blowing. I have never been out of that kind of money for no reason,” said Kameron. What’s worse, he says the refund he was promised took months. “It took quite a while for that refund to come through. It took a lot of arguing as well.”
Instacart is a third-party vendor, a company that hires independent workers, who get your order, go to the store and actually pick your items off the shelf. “If I would have known that going into it, I would have never used it,” Kameron said.
So who are these Instacart independent workers?
Instacart says they do conduct background checks of shoppers to ensure they meet safety standards. They also have to sign an independent contractor’s agreement. Shoppers can be deactivated for any fraudulent activity and for failing to meet standards.
“You’re essentially paying someone on an app to go shopping for you,” said Daniel Irwin of the Better Business Bureau. “So you just need to be on top of it. Make sure that as soon as you search your stuff, as s soon as you get it you look, and you see any discrepancies, you don’t need to wait. You need to reach out immediately.”
Better Business Bureaus across the country have seen plenty of complaints about Instacart.
“They’ve had about 22,149 complaints nationwide in the last 12 months,” said Irwin. “Nineteen of those have been local complaints, and when I read through those complaints, that’s the number one thing that people are complaining about, that they were charged for their actual groceries, and there were things missing, or there are items added that they didn’t authorize.”
Instacart denied our request for an interview and for the number of complaints they have received. In a statement, they said customers who have issues with Instacart “should contact the Instacart customer experience team.”
The BBB says Instacart has been responsive to some of the complaints, including the 19 filed locally. “I believe 11 of those have been resolved to the owner’s satisfaction. I believe the others were closed out as the business made attempts. I don’t know whether the consumer was satisfied,” Irwin said.
The BBB has these tips:
- Be sure to double-check your order
- Reach out immediately if you see something wrong with your order
- Make payments with credit cards, not debit, so you have more protection.
It boils down to buyer beware, taking precautions on your end so convenience doesn’t end up costing you more.
But Kameron, who is now using another shopping service, is still left to wonder if delivery is even worth the hassle. “If you can, just find the time to go to the grocery store.”