Instacart logo. Image Credit: Getty Images
Instacart, a grocery delivery app similar to Doordash and Grubhub, suggested that its shoppers in the Southeastern U.S., who are currently in the midst of Category 3 Hurricane Idalia, could potentially earn more money from customer tips if they went out to deliver in the hurricane, according to a Reddit post by a shopper on Wednesday.
The post, shared in the r/InstacartShoppers subreddit, shows a screenshot of the Instacart app, with a map that shows shoppers how far away a customer request is. The screenshot also shows a banner at the bottom of the app with a suggestion from Instacart. “Bad weather = good tips,” the banner reads, following this first statement with a raining cloud emoji and a money bag emoji. “We encourage customers to tip higher when rain is expected. Go online to take advantage, and always drive safely.” The map shows that the poster is in Shell Point, South Carolina, which was at time of writing on Wednesday afternoon under a hurricane warning, a storm surge warning, and a tornado watch. The Weather Channel stated that there was “potential for wind 74 to 110 mph” and a “life-threatening storm surge possible.”“I think [the suggestion is] ridiculous and takes advantage of people, especially millennials and Gen Z who are struggling financially at this time due to inflation,” the poster said in an online chat with Motherboard. “I know I’m struggling, but I draw the line at national disasters.”An Instacart spokesperson told Motherboard in an email that the app had shut down operations in Florida and Georgia on Wednesday because of the hurricane, and that though it encouraged customers to tip more during inclement weather conditions, shopper safety was its first priority.
The user said that they had received $44.41 in tips on Tuesday, and $89 the day before, but that working on Monday had been “more dangerous.” Other posts in the subreddit, however, show that customers do not always tip higher when asking for deliveries in a hurricane. One post by a user who says they are in Florida with the hurricane approaching shows a delivery which would pay $4.16, including a tip of $0.04. Another post talking about the hurricane shows deliveries paying between $14 and $44, all of which are over 20 miles away. The shopper’s map shows a label for West Meadows, a neighborhood in Florida. “The distance is getting crazy,” the poster wrote. “Not worth it.”
This is not the first time Instacart has suggested its shoppers take advantage of dangerous weather for increased tips. Other recent posts on the subreddit show a similar banner reflecting extreme heat conditions, which many parts of the U.S. weathered this summer.
Do you shop for Instacart? Are you delivering during extreme weather? We’d love to hear from you. From a non-work phone or email, you can contact Jules Roscoe at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal at (415) 763-7705.
“Hot weather = higher tips,” reads the banner in one screenshot posted earlier this month. This time, the title is followed by a sun emoji. “We encourage customers to tip higher when extreme heat is expected. Remember to use insulated bags to keep perishables cool.” The user tagged their post with “What…In The World ?!”“It seems that instead of relying only on customers to tip more when the weather is so hot, that IC would provide extra compensation too,” they wrote. “The heat index here is 115 [degrees Fahrenheit] today.”Correction: An earlier version of this article specified “Florida Hurricane” in the headline. While Hurricane Idalia is affecting Florida, the Instacart shopper who posted on Reddit is based in South Carolina, which is also experiencing the hurricane.Update: This article was updated with comment from an Instacart spokesperson.