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Tips for Instacart delivery drivers are mysteriously decreasing

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Joe has a full-time job in Ithaca, New York. He also picks up freelance assignments, called “batches,” for grocery-delivery service Instacart—where he makes money from fees the company pays, as well as customer tips. Now Joe wonders if he’s getting the whole tip.

Joe, who asked that we use only his first name, got suspicious in September when a coworker at his day job placed an order with Instacart. She added a $6.27 tip, which was 15% of the total (the default is 5%, or $2, whichever is higher). On his app for delivery workers, Joe could see her order go out to the pool of available Instacart drivers, known as “shoppers.” The tip being offered them was just $4.18, or 10%.

Customers can add or change a tip in the app anytime from when they place an order till three days after delivery. But Joe’s friend, who asked to remain anonymous, says she doesn’t recall making any changes to the tip, or the items in her order (Joe didn’t end up fulfilling the order). When I asked Instacart what happened, the company claimed essentially the opposite: The customer originally set a 10% tip, which she updated to 15% after the order was completed.

This isn’t an isolated misunderstanding. Joe’s case is one of several examples shoppers and customers have presented of tips going down for reasons they don’t understand. What’s not clear is why—whether it is tip “skimming,” as some shoppers allege, a technical glitch, or just confusion over how the customer and shopper apps work. Instacart claims that there are no glitches and says any discrepancy is due to customers changing their orders or their tips.

The $2.09........

© Fast Company