Instacart has long been at odds with its shoppers — the people who go to the grocery store on behalf of customers. From November 3-5, thousands of Instacart shoppers plan to protest with three demands. They want Instacart to change the default tip amount to at least 10%, ditch the service fee and commit to always giving 100% of the tip to the shopper.
“We did not arrive at the 10% figure arbitrarily, rather this is what the default tip amount was back when I and many others started working for Instacart,” Vanessa Bain, an Instacart shopper wrote on Medium this week. “We are simply demanding the restoration of what was originally promised.”
In order to get as many participants as possible, Bain told TechCrunch it suggests each person shares the details of the protest with at least five shoppers in person.
“We are fortunate enough to have pockets of a centralized work space in grocery stores where we can connect with fellow workers,” Bain said.
Back in 2016, Instacart removed the option to tip in favor of guaranteeing its workers higher delivery commissions. About a month later, following pressure from its workers, the company reintroduced tipping. Then, in April 2018, Instacart began suggesting a 5% default tip and reduced its service fee from a 10% waivable fee to a 5% fixed fee.
“We take the feedback of the shopper community very seriously and remain committed to listening to and using that feedback to improve their experience,” an Instacart spokesperson told TechCrunch.
This protest is on the heels of a class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as a tipping debacle where Instacart included tips in its base pay for shoppers. Instacart, however, has since stopped that practice and provided shoppers with back pay. Though, Fast Company recently reported that Instacart delivery drivers’ tips are mysteriously decreasing.
But it’s a new day for gig economy workers — at least in California. Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law gig worker protections bill AB-5. This legislation will make it harder for gig economy companies to classify their workers as 1099 independent contractors when it goes into effect in January. The victory came after gig workers made their voices heard through protests and other direct actions.
What’s clear at this point is that workers are refusing to stay silent and are more than willing to advocate for themselves. Organizers of the Instacart protest have outlined three ways for shoppers to get involved. The more active approach would entail shoppers signing up for as many hours as possible from November 3 -5, but keep letting the batches time out. The more passive approach entails not signing up for any hours at all, and not accepting any on-demand batches.
“What’s driving us to do this is a perpetual tug of war shoppers have been engaged in with Instacart for over three years now,” Bain said. “We’ve held actions annually to maintain the pressure and continue the momentum of our organizing. Right now, workers are in the worst financial position we have ever been in. The introduction of algorithmic pay, coupled with their rolling out of On Demand batches (instant offers that don’t require being on schedule to accept) have led to variability in pay, and the decline of pay to unprecedented levels.”
*This story has been updated with comment from Bain.