Instacart recently sent an email to shoppers with an upsetting update: Base pay for batches is now as low as $4, down from $7!
Here’s what Instacart said about the updates to batch pay:
“The smallest, quickest batches will pay at least $4…More complex batches may pay $10 or more” – Instacart
Here’s a batch with the new lowered pay: Only $5.67 in batch pay to shop 38 items with 44 units!
And another that only pays $4.73. This used to be a $7+ batch.
There are other tweaks to the earnings system in this update: Heavy pay and distance are no longer listed as a separate line item on the batch payout screen.
All batch payment factors are now lumped together into a straightforward number. You won’t know exactly how much you’re getting for distance and heavy pay.
Most shoppers see this update as a pay cut. That’s despite assurances from Instacart that this is a ‘rebalancing’ that shouldn’t make too much of a difference to overall average pay.
Read on for more detail, see examples of the new low base pay, and see reactions from Instacart shoppers!
Base pay used to be $7. Now it’s $4
The lowest-paying single batch used to be $7. Now base pay is $4.
Instacart claims that only the ‘least complex’ batches will have the lowered base pay, and ‘more complex’ batches will pay more.
But Instacart doesn’t say what exactly a ‘more complex’ or ‘less complex’ batch is.
So far, even batches with more than 20 items pay less than the former $7 base pay. Most shoppers wouldn’t consider 20 items the ‘least’ complex batch, yet the pay for that batch is close to minimum pay.
And remember—double batches and multiple store orders don’t necessarily have double base pay. Two of the ‘least complex’ batches won’t always pay $8. So this is likely a pay cut for small double batches and individual batches.
Heavy pay: From $5 to “at least $2”
Instacart has also updated heavy pay: Heavy pay will now be “at least $2,” but potentially higher for heavier orders. Previously the minimum heavy pay was $5
The exact amount of heavy pay won’t be listed on the batch payout, so you won’t know precisely how much heavy pay you are getting.
To qualify for heavy pay, an order must have ‘individual items that weigh over 8 pounds or 128 ounces each, such as a 12-pack of soda or gallon of milk, and the total combined weight is 50 pounds or more.”
Changes to long-distance & mileage pay
The updated pay structure also changed how pay works for mileage and distance.
Mileage pay will no longer be listed as a separate per-mile rate. Instead, distance will be lumped in with other factors that determine base pay, such as the total number of items.
“We’ll now take into account the estimated distance the shopper has to drive to the store once they accept a batch.”
“For example, a small batch with 5 items offers to a shopper 10 miles away could pay $10 or more in Instacart pay, to account for the expected extra time spent driving”
See what batches look like with the new base pay
The new base pay on display: $5.98 to do a 21-unit. 3.8-mile order. This would have been at least $7 under the previous earnings.
Below, here’s $5.53 in base pay to shop 28 units. Many would consider 19 items and 20+ units to be complex enough to match the previous $7 base pay.
The shopper below got a 10-unit offer from Dollar Tree that pays only $5.35. Even the fastest shopper can only do 2–3 small offers per hour, so don’t expect to earn more than $10–$15 per hour with the new base pay.
Shoppers react to lowered base pay
Instacart shoppers on Reddit are not happy the changes to base pay.
If the smaller orders really become $4 this app will be unusable
First time I’m offered $4 for a shop and deliver I will be uninstalling the app
Small orders are dead because they will pay $6 now with a $2 tip
As expected I see a ton of doubles for $8 or $10 and triples for 12$
I’m concerned since the amount of “difficult” i.e. soon to be higher paying batches, were so few to none already
Why is Instacart lowering base pay?
Tweaking the earnings system can accomplish two things for instacart: Cut costs and improve the perceived shopper experience for some batches.
Instacart’s valuation has been slashed several times, and with an upcoming IPO on the horizon, they will need to do everything possible to improve profitability. Cutting costs is part of that equation.
But how can a pay cut improve the shopper experience in any way?
Base pay may be lower, but ‘complex’ batches will pay more. The satisfaction with higher-paying batches could help to soften the blow of the lower base pay.
The Instacart earnings system is becoming more and more like upfront pricing on Uber and Lyft
Uber and Lyft no longer pay drivers according to a set rate card. Instead, drivers receive an upfront estimate not directly connected to a per-mile or per-minute rate.
Pay for long rides was increased while pay for short rides was decreased. Sound familiar?
With the distance earning calculation now completely invisible on Instacart, shoppers have even less insight into their earnings than ever.
And adding a reduction in base pay with increases to other batches adds enough confusion and uncertainty to make it hard to figure out if you’re coming out ahead or behind.
In the gig economy, drivers are getting less and less information as time goes on.
More help for Instacart shoppers