Virginia Instacart worker says company’s tip policy is unfair

Coronavirus

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Scott Lamson of Newport News is glued to his phone these days. On Monday morning, he didn’t like what he saw.

“Only a $5 tip for 13 items going 13.1 miles? That’s not worth it,” Lamson told WAVY-TV.

Lamson is a shopper for Instacart, a service that does the shopping and delivery for you. Lamson says a driver can be lured to an order with a pretty hefty tip, but then the tip can be changed either by the company or the customer.

He’ll get paid anywhere from $7 to $15 for an order, but it’s the tips that concern him.

Lamson says a customer can reduce — or even eliminate — the tip they had originally entered for the order within 72 hours. He wants customers to be more understanding, and wants Instacart to hold them to it.

But Instacart says virtually all orders do include some amount for a tip, and total tipping has nearly doubled since the beginning of the pandemic.

On large orders, Lamson would make more from the tip than from the delivery fee.

“At least $20 or $30, but sometimes they tip $3, and I’m like you just spent $200 on food that we’re bringing to you, and you can’t tip a little higher?” he said.

Lamson says Instacart can reduce a tip if items are not in stock — he sees that as punishment for a situation that’s beyond his control. He says his service is more than just a convenience for his customers. It cuts down on their risk.

“Their risk of exposure, risk of being in line with people who don’t want to stay six feet apart, or can’t stay six feet apart because it’s so crowded,” he said.

The company says 100% of all tips go directly to the shopper, and tips are at the discretion of the customer.

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