Instacart

Wegmans came to the Boston area a few years ago. I’m <30 minutes away but only go there every few months. I am disabled and when feeling at my worst, resort to home delivery of groceries, usually Roche Brothers, a chain which uses its own staff and vans for this. I prefer it to Peapod.

I learned via online advertising that Wegmans has begun delivery via Instacart, and there was a discount promo so I took the leap. My fault for not exploring the details first. I assumed Instacart was a computer program, but it’s actually more like Uber for groceries. I found the website awkward to navigate, with frequent inconsistencies in pricing, where it was unclear if it was per piece or per pound. Some items were typical in-store prices, while others were 20%-ish higher. The delivery window was confirmed, so it was a bit annoying to get a text that J had begun shopping. Two more texts informed me that two of my items were unavailable, but there seemed to be no way to contact anyone about substitutes. I emailed to say what to add instead but no substitutions were made. The website says perishables will be kept cold, but my frozen item was half thawed. J arrived in a personal vehicle, carrying several plastic grocery bags. I had a small tip in hand. Only later was there an email asking for an optional tip and at that point I didn’t realiize J wasn’t a Wegmans employee. Roche Brothers specifies that no tipping is expected, though the $5 or $10 bills I’ve proffered, depending on the size of the order, have never been refused.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that J was unfamiliar with the store’s layout and inventory. As with other gig economy jobs, there are complaints about Instacart from the people working for it.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold