Have you tried having your groceries delivered? I have, and the experience wasn’t enjoyable at all. While I should have probably done more research on my part before typing in my card information it was the most frustrating online shopping experience I have ever encountered from start to end. Today, I’m going to tell you all about it so if you’ve been considering jumping on the grocery delivery bandwagon you know exactly what to expect.
I’m sure by now you’ve probably heard about Instacart. They are mostly discussed online as being a way to make some extra cash by delivering groceries. After seeing it mentioned in so many different online groups and seeing a ton of people recommending it for the income they were something on my to check out list. Plus, a couple of weeks ago when doing some in-person grocery shopping at my local Farm Fresh I noticed the advertisements there encouraging shoppers to have their groceries delivered.
This weekend I’ll admit I was being lazy and didn’t do my Walmart Grocery pickup order. So, Instacart popped into my head and since delivery was the same day I figured why not.
Shopping on Instacart
Once I was signed up for Instacart (the easy part) I was presented with a selection of stores available. Since Farm Fresh is one of my favorite grocery stores selecting them was a no-brainer. However, when I got to the actual storefront for Farm Fresh that’s when the madness began.
I will say, at first, I thought, this is going to be easy since everything is so organized.
However, as I started shopping, I saw what a nightmare it was going to be.
First, a lot of the items don’t have photos and have similar names, so you can’t really tell if what you’re getting is what you want. Second, everything is charged by the pound so there’s no way you can order accurately since in the store it’s already packaged. Third, the prices are boosted up (later after I’d already placed my order I did some research and found out that Instacart can boost up the prices by as much as 20%).
For example, look at the photos below. The top photo shows chicken drumsticks at Farm Fresh for $1.39 per pound. However, in the bottom photo, you can see drumsticks at Walmart for $0.96 per pound and the total is $4.76.
While it’s not a big difference I have a grocery budget and spending $185 on groceries was not in my plans (more on this later).
More on the Instacart Website
I’ve already discussed how annoying it is that quite a few items are missing photos. But, the website usability is annoying too.
When shopping at Walmart for my pickup order I just click add to cart and it goes into the cart and shows in the cart on the sidebar. Not with Instacart. Nope, not happening.
First, you must click on the item, it opens in a new window and then you must click add to cart. To view the cart, you must click on the cart icon, which was an all-around pain since this time I shopped without a list and I like to easily be able to compare prices.
Instacart: The Checkout Process & Fees
Once you’re ready to check out the real fun starts. You’ll notice that you’re hit with a service fee of $15 (well in my case it was $15 I’m not sure if this had anything to do with my order or not), plus there’s the sales tax, and the delivery fee (my first delivery was free but apparently normally it’s $5.99 unless you pay $149 per year to get free delivery for orders over $35).
Sounds normal, right?
Well, since I originally heard about Instacart as a way to make extra income I already knew that the service fee doesn’t go to the drivers, so I opted not to pay it and I’m glad I didn’t (more on why later). I already had set aside $10 in cash as a tip for the driver, so I felt the money was better spent going into their pocket especially after the awful ordering experience so far.
The shocking thing was that my order, which was priced at $149 after sales tax was added warranted a $180 hold on my card. Again, this could be due to my lack of not researching this first, but with Walmart Grocery pickup they charge me what my order is priced at.
So, I was a little put off with this as I was already $49 over my grocery budget for the week and now they were trying to squeeze me out of another $31.
AND when I started shopping it told me delivery would be available within 2 hours. Wrong! After authorizing my card to be charged the email tells me that my estimated delivery time is 6 hours away. I was so glad I didn’t pay that service charge, however, not paying the service charge could have been what delayed my order. I guess I’ll never know.
The Instacart Shopper
Obviously, the shoppers are everyday people like you and me and not a Walmart employee who has been doing grocery pickup for a while and knows where everything is at in the store. Also, it’s not their money that they’re spending so it is probably more than likely that when it comes to replacements they just pick up whatever they see first (if they even look for the original item altogether).
The good thing is once your shopper is in route Instacart sends you a text message, so you can track the process. I kind of felt bad because according to the progress alerts it took my shopper 30 minutes to get to Farm Fresh, which is five minutes away from my house. So, it’s possible that my delivery may have also been off because we don’t have a lot of drivers in my city yet.
Anyways, once the shopper was in the store, I thought things would be smooth sailing. Nope, wrong again!
She replaced about 6 items for higher priced items (I’m talking about double the price items). Again, this could be due to Instacart not using the store’s prices and making their own or it could have been the shopper just picking up whatever came to her eyes first. I guess I’ll never know.
I know when the total crept up to $180 I was thinking oh no don’t tell me I am going to be paying $200 for 39 items. If only I hadn’t been lazy I could have gotten 65 items (similar items shopped via Farm Fresh but a larger quantity to last for close to three weeks) from Walmart for $144 or 31 items for $55.
See the difference here?
The shopper spent about a half hour in the store. I received a text once she was in transit. It took her the five minutes to get to me, but she didn’t even ring the doorbell. My kids happen to notice a shadow in front of the window and low and behold groceries were sitting in front of the door. When she made the last trip up we still tipped her the $10, but I was so disappointed with this experience and I refuse to do it again.
Final Thoughts – Why I’m Sticking with Walmart Grocery Pickup
Overall, I spent $185 on groceries that for the price should last me for 3 weeks. The prices are inflated and unless you specify replacement options on everything or tell the shopper not to replace it at all, there’s no telling how much your final total is going to be plus you could get stuck with brands you don’t even like.
With Walmart Grocery Pickup, even though it’s impossible to get a same day pickup time in my area, the ordering process is quick and easy and so is the pickup process. Whenever they replace something they keep it in the same price range and brand and what you’re told your order is going to be online is what it is. Plus, if you’re ordering more than $35 the service is free. The best part is, you don’t feel pressured to tip even when you have had a horrible experience, but when you do you know that they really deserved it because the best possible service has been experienced the entire time.
Basically, I took this Instacart experience as a lesson learned. While it doesn’t make me not want to shop at Farm Fresh anymore, I’m going back to being a loyal Walmart Grocery Pickup customer and will save Farm Fresh trips for when I’m out running errands in the area already and just need to pick up something from them that Walmart doesn’t have. For now, I’ll just keep putting in my savings catcher receipts and hope to score some of my wasted money back that way.
Have you ever had your groceries delivered via Instacart? What was your experience like?