How Instacart Loses Money to False Customer Complaints

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How Instacart Loses Money to False Customer Complaints

Instacart relies on Instacart shoppers to shop and deliver groceries to customers. Sometimes, Instacart shoppers don’t pick the best fruit/produce, get the wrong item, or forget to deliver an item. This happens sometimes, even to the best shoppers. The customer is able to report complaints about their order, whether they got a bad piece of produce or didn’t receive an item. Typically, the customer gets a refund for these types of items. For the shopper, these complaints show up under your rating in a box called “Customer Feedback.” It’ll look something like this:

Types of Complaints and How Customer Cheats Instacart

Customers will report items on their order under a number of complaints:

  • Wrong Item
  • Damaged Item
  • Poor Replacement
  • Missing Item

By and far the most common fake complaint is missing item. Since it is missing, they can’t take a picture of it. Instacart will typically refund the customer for any missing items. Typically, maybe one or two items are missing due to human error, but many shoppers have seen a large portion of the order was reported missing. There were a few incidents when the item was handed over to the customer directly, yet a few hours later it was marked missing.

Instacart will also refund damaged items, wrong items or poor replacements as well. In those cases, the customer takes a picture and submits it to Instacart.

Missing Items?

This is one of the most abused complaint for Instacart shoppers. They can easily report items missing in order to get them for free. It will be the customer’s word against the shopper, but they don’t often investigate any of these claims, so customers get them for free.

Wrong Items?

Unless it is for fruit/produce/meat, it is very difficult to scan and buy the wrong item. As a new shopper last year, I scanned so many wrong items in my first two weeks that I know it’s really hard to scan and buy the wrong items. Sometimes, even new SKU for the same item (for a rebranding, for example) can force the Instacart app to reject the item. In addition, sometimes meat can have a different SKU for the same thing (bulk ground meat vs pre-packaged, for example). This is when you do a forced acceptance and then put in the quantity.

Despite this, many shoppers have complaints about delivering the wrong items.

Damaged Items?

Typically, this complaint is for bad produce or produce that has been damaged when it was put in a bag. While this isn’t one of the most common ways customers falsely complain about their order, it could be used to get it for free. On one order, I had all three avacados marked as damaged. I don’t think it is possible to damage an avacado and I personally know what a bad avacado is (bad on the inside) since my wife keeps buying them.

Poor Replacement

This isn’t used often since many orders go through without replacements and if there was a replacement, we typically get a replacement that they bought before or one that is recommended by Instacart. Out of all my complaints, I have only one that was a poor replacement, which I knew was a legitimate complaint.

Is Instacart Trying To Stop This?

Yes and No. Instacart has a system in place to flag customers who report their most expensive item as missing or wrong, but the system doesn’t track anything else. Also, many shoppers have noted that some customers have hundreds of orders with Instacart, yet continue to mark things as missing or wrong. Some shoppers even personally know certain customers mark items wrong or missing on a regular basis. From many Instacart shoppers I spoke with, it seems as if customers can report missing items for a long time before their account is deactivated.

In addition, there is nothing to prevent them from opening another account, using their significant other’s name or having the stuff delivered to another address. When I worked weekdays, about half of my orders were corporate customers, such as Co-working spaces or small businesses, so I didn’t get nearly as many customer complaints as other shoppers who had a lot of smaller orders from people.

What Can the Shopper Do About It?

The best thing shoppers can do is to email shopper happiness and submit it in writing. Make sure to identify the customer and what they marked was missing or wrong. Instacart is slowly getting around to trying to prevent this, but their system is still not technically able to spot this scam. Many shoppers have called into Shopper Happiness before, but they say it is not as effective as emailing them with pictures.

On the one hand, complaining about it won’t improve your rating. The reason why shoppers are upset about this is because they will typically rate the shopper a 4, then continue to submit the false customer complaint, which will prevent shoppers from getting the $100 weekly bonus based on rating. There is little financial incentive for reporting these customers.

On the other hand, customers are stealing from Instacart so if this continues much longer, Instacart may be out of business due to its inability to become profitable. I know that many shoppers will find other sharing economy jobs, but some are passionate about Instacart and may want to prevent customers from stealing from Instacart.

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