Instacart workers are asking customers to delete the shopping app to help them make headway in their fight for better working conditions and benefits. In an open letter published on Medium, Monday, Sept. 20, by the Gig Workers Collective, Instacart shoppers made their request.
“Shoppers call upon every customer to delete the Instacart app immediately as a show of support for shoppers’ ongoing efforts to end Instacart’s long-standing practice of gig worker exploitation,” the letter states. “We are asking customers to delete the app today — because there is only one thing Instacart and its executives and investors care about: money. And we ask that customers refrain from reinstalling the app unless and until Instacart rectifies the genuinely inequitable manner in which it treats its shoppers.”
In the letter, Instacart shoppers laid out 5 demands. They are requesting to be paid by order, not batch as a batch can include up to three orders; for the company to re-introduce item commission; to not “unfairly punish shoppers for issues outside their control” including grocery stores being low on items; to receive occupational death benefits; to raise the default tip amount back to 10 percent (it has been lowered to 5 percent).
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The letter comes ahead of a rumored IPO and a social media campaign supporting the movement is using the hashtag #DeleteInstacart. The company has already been in hot water, including being sued by the D.C. Attorney General, for stealing shoppers’ tips, in the past.
According to the letter, shopping for Instacart is dangerous as attacks on gig workers are on the rise. One Instacart shopper, Lynn Murray, was among those killed in a mass shooting in Colorado while she was shopping for an Instacart customer.
Many of Instacart’s workforce are single mothers and retirees, according to Vice. Robin Pape – an Instacart shopper in Ithaca, New York – is one of them.
“We are asking customers to delete the app and find something else. I’d like to think people care about each other now more than before the pandemic, and can see that Instacart workers are exploited and put in dangerous and unhealthy and unsafe positions,” said Pape, who is also a disabled veteran.
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She talked about the effect dropping the default tip amount has on shoppers. “We see this as tip conditioning. Research shows people go with the default tip amount because that seems like the fair amount,” Pape said. “When they dropped the tip amount from ten to five percent, people started leaving that as the default. There was no good reason for them to change it.”
A spokesperson from Instacart told Vice’s Motherboard the company was “deeply committed to creating the best possible experience for our shopper community.”
“Over the past several years, this unwavering commitment has led us to introduce new features, policies, offerings, and support for shoppers—significantly improving the shopper experience and resulting in the highest shopper sentiment in company history,” the spokesperson continued.
Instacart workers disagree, noting they have tried to negotiate with the company’s top brass for years to no avail. They said they were hopeful when new CEO Fidji Simo came aboard in July things would change, but some say it has gotten worse.
“That optimism, however, was short-lived, and it has become abundantly clear that Instacart remains true to its morally corrupt nature and will never do right by its shoppers,” the open letter said.
They believe asking customers to boycott the platform is their only hope and last resort.
“Asking customers to delete the Instacart app in the midst of a pandemic is not something we take lightly. We understand that, for some customers, this will be a significant sacrifice. But we have spent the past five years fighting for better working conditions and firmly believe we have exhausted all less drastic options,” the letter said.