The Sad Truth About Instacart Ratings

In 2020, deliveries became bigger than ever. Takeout and delivery apps saw orders higher than ever before, per Marketwatch, so it stands to reason that grocery delivery services had the same results. According to Business of Apps, Instacart, which had previously been losing money, gained so much traction it "passed its 2022 goals", requiring them to add "300,000 more 'shoppers'" to make sure the company could handle the added workload.

One has to wonder what the experience is like for an Instacart shopper, especially during these tumultuous times. In 2017, Bon Appetit actually spoke to Instacart and arranged for one of its writers to try her hand at being a shopper for a day, which she described it as laborious and "tedious." That has to make you wonder what these workers go through every day, especially because the Bon Appetit writer's experience was before the COVID-19 pandemic. She didn't mention the ratings, likely because they don't make much of a difference if you're only doing this for a day, but for workers who rely on Instacart as their main income source, ratings can have quite the impact.

Instacart ratings are more than just a review

In the same way drivers wouldn't want their Uber rating to drop too far below five stars, many Instacart shoppers rely on their ratings to stay on top and make much-needed money. Unfortunately, their system is even more strict. Writing for Vox, Ehud Sopher explains that for someone who relies on Instacart for income, even a 4.96 can mean the difference between making enough money to pay your bills or making barely enough to meet the standards of minimum wage. 

Sopher, who has worked as a shopper for Instacart, notes that workers with the highest ratings get first dibs on new assignments as they pop up, so the ones with five stars can grab those high-profile, high-paying gigs, leaving the less appealing options for the others. The system, as he explains it, is likely unknown to customers, who don't understand that their presumably innocuous one-star deduction could be ruining someone's paycheck — even more than if they just left a bad tip.

The LA Times even points out that some Instacart customers lie about poor customer service in order to get free things, causing even more issues for the shopper. One can only hope that Instacart starts taking better care of its workers moving forward, especially in the continued throes of a global pandemic.