The shady way people are getting their Instacart orders faster

Grocery shopping never used to be a life-threatening exercise, but that's all changed thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. And while we still need to eat, many of us are choosing to stay home, practice social distancing, and have essential groceries delivered to us instead. That's where delivery services like Instacart come in. Unlike the restaurant industry which has been badly hurt by the pandemic, delivery companies are expanding, and their growth is being fueled by folks who don't want to expose themselves to the risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

Because customers have been struggling to get the items they want delivered, CNN Business reports that some people are trying to get around that by offering exorbitant tips to tempt Instacart workers to sort their orders out. And what these tippers give, they also take away, because customers have been known to offer a tip, then they withdraw the money as soon as they get their groceries. The practice, which is now known as "tip baiting" happened to Annaliisa Arambula, who was promised more than $50, only to have the amount slashed to nothing after the groceries were delivered. "When you know that it's somebody who's just doing it to game the system and to get their order when they want it, it's really frustrating," Arambula said.

Instacart won't comment on tip baiting

This tip baiting practice hurts delivery service people, whose earnings mostly come from tips. "It's a crapshoot. These are affluent communities that I'm delivering to. There's almost no need to not tip, especially because not only is this a convenience for you but we're in a pandemic right now," one Pennsylvania personal shopper who calls herself Jenifer G. told CNN. 

But USA Today says some customers are unhappy with Instacart's service, too. It says the company's Twitter feed is full of accusations that personal shoppers have been stealing clients' groceries. The company says it is acting on its client's complaints: "In the very rare instance that a customer does not receive their order, they can contact Instacart Care to have their order fully refunded or rescheduled." Where tip baiting was concerned, an Instacart spokesperson would only tell CNN that tips were up to a customer, and that the company encourages its clients to "please consider tipping above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper."

At the end of the day, it really shouldn't need to be said: If you're paying for someone else to risk their health and safety so you don't have to, don't tip bait. Just don't.