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Is Instacart Safe? Must-Know Facts for Every Instacart Shopper and Customer

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Key Takeaways

  • Instacart employs background checks and encryption to ensure customer and shopper safety on its platform.
  • Shoppers receive injury protection and safety alerts, adding a layer of security for their work.
  • Customers face risks like damaged items without refunds and potential scam transactions.
  • Despite safety measures, issues like delayed customer support and uncertain earnings for shoppers exist.

Is Instacart Safe?

Instacart is generally safe, employing measures like shopper background checks, in-app communication encryption, and injury protection for shoppers.

However, users should be aware of risks such as no work benefits for shoppers, potential for damaged items without refunds, and scam risks.

While Instacart makes efforts to ensure safety and security, it’s crucial for users to remain vigilant and take personal precautions.

AspectInstacart Safety FeaturesInstacart Risks
For ShoppersGuaranteed & transparent payment.No work benefits; costs for gas and vehicle upkeep.
Flexible payouts; instant and weekly options.Earnings uncertainty; variability in orders and tips.
Safety alerts for critical events.Potential payment delays and account suspensions.
Injury protection insurance.
For CustomersBackground checks and rating system for shoppers.Risk of damaged items without refunds.
Encrypted in-app communication; personal info protection.Potential for scams and unauthorized transactions.
Limited customer support; slow response times.
GeneralTraining and autonomy for shoppers; real-time GPS tracking for peace of mind.Need for vigilance due to inherent online risks.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

In my experience as both a shopper and a customer on Instacart, I’ve found that the platform prioritizes safety effectively.

The training provided to shoppers equips them with the knowledge to handle various situations, from navigating unfamiliar areas to dealing with challenging customer interactions.

The real-time GPS tracking in the Instacart app is a significant safety feature, offering both shoppers and customers peace of mind.

Additionally, the autonomy given to shoppers to choose their orders allows for a sense of control over their working environment.

While rare, uncomfortable interactions with customers do occur, but Instacart’s responsive support system effectively addresses these issues, fostering a safe and reliable working experience.

What Makes Instacart Safe?

Instacart keeps striving to ensure safety throughout the entire shopping process for both personal shoppers and customers. Below are a few ways Instacart ensures a smooth and worry-free grocery shopping experience for both parties on its platform.

Safety For Instacart Shoppers

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1. Payment Reliability

One of the biggest anxieties for gig workers on any platform is payment reliability. Instacart offers a safety net in this regard. It guarantees pay after you have the groceries delivered. You won’t have to chase customers to get paid or deal with payment disputes.

Once you make a delivery and mark the order as complete, the money is automatically reflected in your account. You also get a detailed breakdown of your earnings on the app, including tips, promotions, and bonuses.

This transparency allows you to monitor your income and easily identify discrepancies.

2. Flexible Payouts

Instacart also provides you with flexible cash-out options and gives you control over your finances. You can use its instant pay features to get paid on the spot or wait for the weekly payout.

3. Safety Assurance

As part of Instacart’s commitment to helping you earn safely, it invested in the Shopper Safety Alert technology in 2021. With this feature, shoppers receive automated notifications whenever there’s a critical event nearby so they can avoid it.

If you’re in the middle of an order, the app automatically pauses the order to prevent you from entering the danger zone.

4. Injury Protection

Instacart understands that unexpected circumstances can impact your ability to work. To provide financial security during such times, the company introduced the Shoppers Injury Protection program.

All Instacart full-service shoppers automatically receive free insurance coverage against injury sustained while on the job. This reduces financial stress in case of accidents, allowing you to focus on recovery without worrying about lost income.

Safety For Instacart Customers

1. Shoppers Vetting

Instacart conducts a comprehensive background check on all shoppers before allowing them onto the platform. The grocery delivery company ensures the shoppers you’ll be dealing with are individuals with no criminal records.

On top of that, customers rate shoppers after each delivery, which incentivizes shoppers and discourages misconduct. On report, shoppers found wanting may get their Instacart account deactivated.

You’ll see shoppers’ ratings and reviews from other customers before choosing them, so it’s easy to spot trustworthy shoppers and avoid suspicious ones.

2. In-App Communication

Instacart employs enterprise-grade encryption to protect your payment information. You can add another layer of security to your account by enabling two-factor authentication.

You also won’t have to share any personal information with strangers on Instacart. Shoppers can only communicate with you via the Instacart app, which helps maintain privacy and reduces the risks of unwanted conversation.

What Makes Instacart Risky

While Instacart guarantees safety to a convincing extent, it’s not without its drawbacks. Before relying solely on the platform for your needs, below are some potential risks you should consider.

For Instacart Shoppers

1. No Work Benefits

As an Instacart full-service shopper, you’re an independent contractor with 1099 roles. You’ll not receive the same benefits and protection such as health, 401k, and others as traditional employees.

As you use your car for shopping and delivery, the cost of gas and maintenance is on you.

Also, the wear and tear that ensues isn’t covered by your personal auto insurance. That means you may need to upgrade to commercial auto insurance.

2. Shoppers Experience

The most critical aspect of Instacart safety is how the grocery delivery company treats its drivers. To gauge this, we turn to online reviews and forum discussions.

Some shoppers complain about delayed or incorrect payments. Account being suspended for no apparent reason has also been a point of contention.

Many users alleged that Instacart takes tips that should go to shoppers as part of its service fee. Even though the company has faced legal action about it in the past, it’s not a forgotten practice in the company.

3. Earnings Uncertainty

In July 2023, Instacart slashed shoppers’ minimum base pay per order from $7 to $4, leaving them up in arms. The move makes working as a delivery person less rewarding, forcing many to rely more on tips.

Unlike traditional employment, your earning on Instacart isn’t fixed. It depends on several factors: the number of orders completed, tips received, plus potential bonuses and promotions.

The uncertainty can lead to budgeting and financial challenges.

For Customers

1. Damaged Items Without Refunds

Instacart promises that its shoppers will always buy and deliver items in perfect shape. Tons of complaints from customers suggest otherwise.

Some Instacart shoppers still deliver items in poor condition.

While the company thus says it’ll refund customers for supplies in bad condition, the claim is just as good on paper. Getting a refund on Instacart could be a tug of war, as evidenced by several customer reviews on Trustpilot and the BBB website.

2. Potential Scam Risk

Customers have been scammed on Instacart by unknown and authorized people using their cards to order items. You might wake up one day and see notifications of transactions you didn’t authorize.

Here are a few real-life instances:

  • A North Texas family had their checking account drained by an Instacart shopper who not only failed to deliver their grocery order but also went ahead and added more than 140 items they never requested.
  • A more recent case is that of an Ohio customer, Jill McCormick, who was waiting for the delivery of her Instacart order but instead got a notification for a $2,783.25 charge to her bank account for a $282 Kroger order.

Even though the company issued the card shoppers used for purchases, the cards are linked to your connected funding sources, e.g., your PayPal or bank account. Scammers who engage in this practice leverage this to purchase for themselves.

Getting a refund from Instacart might not be possible. The best you can do for yourself is to avoid these altogether. Make sure you check a shopper’s review and service history before choosing them.

3. Docile Customer Support

When customers experience issues such as payment discrepancies and refund and account problems, they require prompt and helpful assistance. That’s not the case with the Instacart customer service team.

From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram, and others, there’s virtually nowhere on the internet where there are more positive reviews about Instacart’s customer support department than there are negative ones.

As one frustrated customer puts it, “Instacart is so swamped.” Many customers alleged their calls were put on hold for hours.

And when you think dropping a message for the team will work, there’s an abundance of proof to dash your hope of getting a response.

Wrapping Up

Instacart offers valuable delivery services to customers and a way for people to make money by shopping at grocery stores. But it’s important to note that no online platform is 100% safe.

While Instacart implements various safety measures to keep you and your personal information protected, it’s up to you to remain vigilant about your online activities.

Now that you know what potential risks are associated with using the platform, you should be able to navigate it securely if you take appropriate precautions.

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