I work for myself.
I set my own hours.
I work from home.
I don’t have kids.
Publix Supermarket is a 3-minute drive from me.
Well, that does it…
I shouldn’t need to use Instacart unless I’m lazy!
But there’s much more to it than just that.
I do have friends, you know.
And many of those friends have kids.
So I hear all of the adventures of dragging them along everyplace (their words).
I hear the complaints of “It would be great to have X brought to me”.
I totally get it!
I still can’t bring myself to use the service, and here’s why.
How Does Instacart Work?
Before we get into the three main issues, this is something that has been brought up numerous times.
No one seems to be sure of how Instacart works anymore.
Some places require an Instacart Express subscription.
Some places you can simply order and pay the fee.
Sometimes the fee can be waived.
None of this information is transparently available on the Instacart website.
Many people in the comments on this very article state as much.
Apparently isn’t as simple as sign up, order, pay any more.
If I was “dying” to have a grocery delivery service available to me, this would be a 4-part article!
Alas, it isn’t so let’s get to my actual complaints about Instacart!
1. I Don’t Trust Instacart “Shoppers”
Personally, I know my mother taught me how to shop.
She showed me how to use coupons, not obsessively to the point where the search would outweigh the benefit, but like a normal person.
She taught me how to look for the best quality groceries.
And most importantly, she taught me that everything has an expiration date.
That’s right, it’s not just the produce.
Or the meat.
Or the dairy.
Even pantry and dry-packaged items have expiration dates.
This is where my mistrust comes in.
On the site, I don’t see anything about qualification except for age, availability, and ability to lift heavy loads.
Simon over at the Rideshare Dashboard has a pretty in-depth overview of the Instacart job signup process.
He specifically mentions the fact that viewing training videos and passing the associated quizzes is no longer a requirement for all applicants.
There is also some talk about actual in-person training which doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence either.
So, who is to say that when I place an order, the person who does the picking will have any knowledge about shopping other than what food is what?
If I order meat, will the just grab a package which comes close to the amount of weight I desire, or will the actually inspect it for quality (best meat: excess ratio or color)?
If I order produce will the picker know how to test fruits or vegetables for freshness?
Will they even look at labels or just grab the first item they see regardless of expiration date?
I have a hard time paying for a service that is 50-50 at best to deliver me the best quality items available at the time.
2. I Don’t Trust Instacart Fees/Pricing
Just today, I tried a little experiment.
I had just come back from that Publix which is around the corner from my house.
Yes, in the middle of the morning on a Friday…that’s one of the best parts of being self-employed.
But I digress…
I decided to go to the Instacart website and test out the prices.
Unfortunately, I had to create an account first, which I also find to be a pain in the ass and don’t really trust sites that don’t let you see how they work without giving over your personal info.
Hesitant as I was, I did it so I can gain access and see what the prices were like.
Now, I did read the FAQ about pricing and averages and data feeds and all before doing my comparison.
That in and of itself gave me pause because if you have all of these disclaimers, you are essentially saying that your prices probably won’t match the store’s prices.
It’s basically just an excuse to charge even more on top of the delivery/subscription fees.
Anyway, the first thing I looked at was Fresh Express Baby Spinach because I knew that I had just bought it and remembered the price I paid was $3.99 each BOGO.
I did a search on the Instacart Publix section and found this:
The BOGO is correct, but the pricing is off.
And just to compare it to what the store itself advertises in the current circular:
Notice in the 2nd image, it says “SAVE UP TO $4.19”?
That means the most expensive Fresh Express product that Publix sells under this sale costs $.40 more through Instacart.
Want another one?
Good, because I tested another one from the Publix ad just to see if there might be something to this.
This time I tested a 5lb bag of Organic Russet Potatoes:
So this one even tells you that it’s on sale and displays the “savings” as well.
But compared to the one from the Publix ad…
Sure there’s no picture on this one, but it really doesn’t matter because the Instacart image is just a plain bag and anyone who has ever been grocery shopping knows, those 5lb bags always are branded.
Getting back on track…
The Publix ad shows, again, a lower price.
And remember that “savings” Instacart displayed?
Well, it appears they not only charge more than the store does, but also calculates everything differently, reflecting larger price savings than Publix offers.
And I tried a bunch of other items too, but I wasn’t in the mood to start clipping images of everything…you can do your own test to see how your area stacks up.
It just doesn’t sit well with me.
If everything is $.40-$.50 more expensive and you are paying for the service on top of that I call bullshit real quick!
3. Instacart Delivery Isn’t In All My Stores
This may be insignificant to many people.
That’s cool because this is only pertaining to my personal reasons for not using the service.
If any of you are friends with me on Facebook, or follow my Facebook Page or Instagram feed you’ll know that mention an Italian market frequently when I talk about food (and if you aren’t, go follow NOW 🙂 )
That’s because on 90% of the items I buy from it beats the pants off of any of the national/regional supermarket chains.
And in case you’re wondering, I mostly buy fresh meats/produce and cook my meals from scratch rather than buying prepackaged foods–not a judgment, but it does clarify why I don’t get much use out of a big supermarket.
Here’s the thing–in my area, there are 4 options for using Instacart, and my main store isn’t one of them.
So, when it comes to the one I do go to that is in my service are–Publix–I only go there for the BOGOs and occasionally when I get coupons for $5 of $50 in the mail direct from the store itself (which is like 1 month a year).
And when I go, I may end up spending between $15-$25, which makes even a $5 delivery fee a relatively HUGE amount!
It’s kind of like those dumbass pizza chains that give you a $7 pizza after applying the promo code but then charge a $4 delivery fee (and they all suck anyway hahahaha but you get my point).
If you shop frequently or in a larger volume than I do and can get that fee down to a tiny relative value, that’s great…it just doesn’t work for me.
My Honest Takeaway
Look, not everyone is going to agree with me.
I not only recognize that fact, I expect it.
Plus, I actually wrote about how personal finance should be tailored to the individual and not used as a blanket or a one-size-fits-all type of deal.
So, sure you may be like many of my friends and not want to drag screaming kids up and down the aisles of your grocery store.
You may not care that you’re paying higher prices on top of the service fee because any amount would be worth having that task off of your shoulders.
The quality or shelf-life of your food may not even matter because you never even considered it important yourself.
That’s all cool with me.
Again, this is all due to my own personal manner of handling my food needs and my personal living situation and yours may vary greatly.
I’m just voicing my own concerns because I hear about people using the service or waiting for it to be available and I keep thinking about those three things each and every time.
Hey, don’t take my opinion as being the only one. Try it and get your first Instacart delivery free using this link and see for yourself if it’s a good fit for you!
And if you’ve already used that option, why not try a free trial of AmazonFresh and see if that suits your needs any better.
You can also try out Thrive Market with a 25% discount on your first order.
Have you ever tried Instacart? Tell us your experience–good, bad, ugly it all helps! And if you haven’t used it yet, what are the reasons for your own hesitance? Share your experiences in the comments below!