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Did you know that customer ratings on Instacart can have a big impact on shoppers?
Customers can rate shoppers on a 5-star scale and leave feedback about item quality, replacement quality, and other factors.
Here’s the issue for shoppers: Low ratings and customer complaints can lead to shoppers losing out on new orders. Fewer orders = less money!
If you’re a shopper, you must maintain an average rating of 4.7 stars or higher to continue receiving batch priority.
But what about the other unfair elements of the ratings system? How can you defend yourself and fight back? Read on!
How the rating system works for Instacart shoppers
Instacart customers can rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. A shopper’s rating is the average of their last 100 rated orders.
Shoppers must maintain an average rating of 4.7 stars or higher to receive batch prioritization. 4.7 or above is considered “Standard” or “High” rating. Below 4.7 is “Low.”
Shoppers with Standard and High ratings see batches before shoppers with Low ratings.
As long as you have 4.7 or higher, your ratings won’t give you a disadvantage when batch offers are distributed to shoppers.
In addition to leaving a star rating, customers can make select specific complaints or compliments about their experience.
Common complaints are missing items, damaged items, poor replacements, or poor service.
Go to Menu > Your Stats in the Shopper app to see customer comments and order issues.
Customers are not required to leave ratings, so a non-rating order is not included in the overall average. Ratings are refreshed overnight each night.
Instacart will sometimes remove a low rating—a system called Ratings forgiveness—for situations out of the shopper’s control.
More help for Instacart shoppers
- Deactivated By Instacart? How to Get Your Account Back
- See How Much Instacart Shoppers Really Make
- Why You’re Not Getting Batches, and How to Get More
Cart Star: Rewards program that can give you ‘priority access’
Cart Star on Instacart is a rewards program that gives points to shoppers for completing batches.
The three rewards tiers are:
- Gold Cart – 200 points (20 orders)
- Platinum Cart – 1000 points (100 orders)
- Diamond Cart – 2000 points (200 orders)
Each Cart Star tier unlocks new benefits:
|Gold Cart||Platinum Cart||Diamond Cart|
|Cash back with Upside||✓||✓||✓|
|Oil change discount with CarAdvise||✓||✓||✓|
|Badge in the app||✓||✓|
|Discount on Backup Care||✓|
|Priority access to batches||✓|
Priority access—unlocked at the Diamond Cart level—can be the strongest benefit.
When you have priority access and position yourself closely to a store, you will see batches before other shoppers who are further from the store.
Cart Star requirements: You must maintain a 4.7 rating to qualify for Cart Star rewards. You won’t immediately lose your rewards benefits if your rating drops below 4.7.
But if you want to qualify for the next three-month period, you must raise your average back to 4.7.
Ratings forgiveness and low ratings protection
Instacart offers ratings forgiveness to help ease the negative effects of low ratings.
- The lowest rating out of every 100 orders is automatically removed
- Low ratings are removed for factors out of your control: Extreme weather, out-of-stock items, app service outages
- Ratings from customers who frequently give low ratings will not be counted
- Multi-store orders: Ratings aren’t counted for orders that include more than one store
- Speed and quality don’t impact star ratings
It’s hard to predict if and when Instacart will remove ratings for the above reasons. If you believe a low rating was out of your control, contact Instacart.
Here’s an example of low ratings protection that removed a low rating for factors out of the shopper’s control:
Example showing how low ratings drop off: Let’s say you’ve done 30 orders and your lowest rating is a 4. The 4 will be removed from the calculation. 5 orders later, someone rates you a 3. The 4-star rating will be added back into the calculation, and the 3 will be removed because it is now your lowest rating.
How do low ratings drop off? In what order? Ratings follow ‘first in, first out.’ Ratings disappear in the order they come in, meaning newer ratings replace your oldest ones.
Calculating exactly how a rating will fall off can get complicated because of ratings forgiveness. This Reddit post offers a clear explanation that might help you count exactly when a low rating will fall off.
Other performance stats: Accuracy and speed
Instacart also tracks other performance factors: Quality and speed.
Quality and speed don’t affect your average star rating, so getting a low quality or speed rating won’t prevent you from getting the best batches.
Accuracy ratings: Instacart tracks the accuracy of your batches by using customer feedback and other in-app data.
Customers can either like or dislike your replacements, contributing to your Accuracy stats.
The app also tracks your % of found items. Customers are more satisfied when you find all their items, but you aren’t punished for out-of-stock items under the latest ratings system.
Seconds per item (speed): The Instacart shopper app tracks ‘seconds per item,’ which is the total shop time divided by the number of items.
Your speed isn’t a factor for batch opportunities, and you won’t be punished for slower speed, but keeping track of speed is a useful metric that can help to improve performance.
Low ratings in quality and speed don’t necessarily cause you to lose batches, so they’re not as important as the star rating.
Instacart fixed many of the unfair elements of the rating system
The biggest complaint about the rating system used to be that just one or two poor ratings could seriously reduce your earnings potential.
If other shoppers had 5 stars and you only had 4.9, other shoppers could get priority over you even if one of your poor ratings wasn’t your fault.
Now, all shoppers with 4.7 stars or higher get the same batch priority. So as long as you keep your ratings reasonably high, you won’t lose out on batches to someone with slightly higher ratings than you.
Why Instacart ratings can still feel unfair
Even with the many changes that Instacart has made to the rating system, some shoppers still feel that it is unfair.
Rating standards can feel random: An experience that is 5 stars to some might be 4 stars to others. And that might be fair if you could still get great batches with a 4.90.
But when you can’t get the orders you need with a 4.90, the natural variation of ratings standards from one customer to the next feels like an unfair outcome.
You can get bad ratings for things out of your control: Instacart does remove some ratings for things out of your control (commonly out of stock items, app outages), but there are many other things out of your control that can lead to a bad rating.
For example, customers might mark ‘no replacements’ and then give you a poor rating for not finding a replacement. Or they might choose ‘no communication’ and then leave a bad rating for communication.
You can ask Instacart support to remove those ratings, but there’s no guarantee they will.
Customers might also be upset about a double batch or multiple store batch. Instacart doesn’t always tell customers that their order is bundled with another, so they might be unhappy about the unexplained delays that often happen with those orders.
Many customers don’t rate: Unhappy customers are quick to leave a bad rating, but happy customers feel less motivated to rate at all. Those who do rate sometimes end up being the disgruntled ones.
Some customers lie and make false reports: Whether they are looking for a fraudulent refund or just venting frustration about the service, shoppers often suffer from customer lies.
Customers leave false reports that might say an order never arrived even when it did, or that an item was missing when it wasn’t. False reports can seriously harm your ratings and even put you at risk of deactivation. That’s unfair.
How to get low ratings removed
If a rating falls under ratings protection or forgiveness, it is supposed to be automatically removed or discounted. But that’s not always how it works.
To have a low rating removed, you can contact Instacart and ask, but it’s often a frustrating battle with support agents.
Instacart support can give you more details about customer feedback, and they do have the power to remove ratings, but it’s not something they frequently do.
When you contact Instacart, make sure you are very familiar with ratings policies. Use as much proof as you can. Try to keep your story as short as possible, including only the necessary details.
Stay persistent, but try not to be rude. If you keep up the effort, it’s possible that Instacart will remove the rating.
How to improve and protect your ratings
Preventing bad ratings in the first place is easier than having a bad rating removed.
Be the best shopper you can be: It’s a common-sense suggestion, but getting good at the gig is your first step. When you’re a new shopper, do demo orders. Closely read the shopper guides available in the app and at shoppers.instacart.com.
Communicate with your customer and be honest about bumps in the road. Look at your quality and speed feedback and find ways to improve. Visit forums like the Instacart subreddit to get answers to questions and learn how other shoppers navigate difficult situations.
Protect yourself against fraud: Leave a paper trail by communicating with the customer when things are going wrong. Take photos of the order before you deliver it, trying your best to get most of the items in the frame to protect yourself against missing item fraud.
Cancel on bad customers: After a while, you’ll be able to tell when a customer is so difficult and unfair that there’s no way for you to satisfy them.
If a customer is rude when you communicate with them, consider contacting support to let them know the customer is abusive, then cancel the order. But keep an eye on your cancellation rate; a rate of 15% or higher puts you at risk of deactivation (more on deactivations here).
How Instacart can improve the ratings system
Instacart made a fundamental change to the rating system when they changed the way that batch priority works.
Shoppers were unhappy when batch priority was strictly based on ratings. A shopper with a 4.89 could lose out on batches to a 4.92.
Now that anyone with 4.7 or higher will receive the same priority, the system feels much fairer.
But the system could still use some improvements!
Instacart could also do a better job at encouraging ratings from customers, so happy customers who don’t typically rate will be motivated to leave more 5 star ratings.
Or Instacart can do what Lyft does and make the default rating 5 stars. If a customer doesn’t rate, Instacart could assume that it was a 5-star order.
Instacart could also do a better job of explaining the rating system to customers. Customers don’t know that just a few sub-5 star ratings can cut into a shopper’s earnings.
One improvement is that customers must leave feedback if they rate less than 4 stars, but shoppers say that Instacart doesn’t enforce the rule.
Creating a balanced rating system is a huge challenge that will never satisfy everyone involved, but the current Instacart system can make some tweaks to make life a lot better for shoppers.
Shoppers: Read this next
I delivered an order to a customer for liquor and a 12 pack of Coke. The customer notified Instacart that I never delivered the order. I contacted Instacart and told them “ that’s funny he said that, and left a 1 star rating when I obviously had to scan his ID for age verification”. The 1 star rating is still there. At least someone was a happy drunk over the entire situation. It wasn’t me.
Tired of unfair ratings scamming customers and low pay
Well I know for a fact that 5 star still gets priority on orders! I had a 4 store that fell off last Tuesday and I made way more money and saw way more orders and my rating on Monday was a 4.98
So glad to see I’m not the only who feels this way about Instacart. I’m out there everyday trying to do my absolute best for the customer and get dinged for things out of my control. I love doing what I do but it’s very disheartening.
Batches are extremeley unfair due to the new changes. Ridiculous
Diana Sumerlin says
I like the new rating system as I’m not waking up in the middle of the night to check my rating. But could be improved, your location is a big factor. In order to get the priority batches you have to pretty much be sitting in the store parking lot. This takes away your chance to work more than one store.
I’ve worked for instacart since 2018. My rating has ALWAYS BEEN a 4.9 and higher the entire time from 2018 until 2020. I’m a single mom of 3 so when the pandemic hit I stayed home with them for school. I started back about 2 weeks ago. My rating went from a 4.94 to a 4.65 IN 2 WEEKS. And I honestly can’t understand why. I stayed a 4.9 and above for 2 years to a 4.6 o 4.65 in less than 2 week. I used instacart to keep my family going. Now I don’t know what to do because I went from making $150 a day to barely being able to put gas in my car. There’s no one you can get ahold of to ask. There’s no way to explain yourself if you get a bad rating. And last week on a particular day Idk what customer but.. I do remember handing every customer their deliver in their hand. I received an email saying someone didn’t receive their order. Etc. There’s no way to say hey yes I did!! Its just held against you. Right now I feel unemployed. And wondering how I’m going to make ends meet. I do my very best just end up like this. This is heartbreaking but… instacart doesn’t care as long as people continue to sign up and work and their money doesn’t get effected who cares about the people who actually works for you.
These “improvements” are nothing more than PR bull****. Its even worse now than it was before. I get far fewer batch offers. . . maybe 1 or 2 every hour or two, IF Im lucky (but they are usually crap batches anyway). They’ve gone from one extreme to another. Setting priority unreasonably high to doing away with it entirely and creating a frenzied free for all.
And I have YET to see ANY unfair/out of our control ratings removed. And I report each unfair rating to IC, w/ proof (screenshots of messages, support chats, weather conditions, photos, screen recordings of app problems, etc). And NO MATTER the situation, even with proof of conditions being beyond my control, and without any order issues submitted, nor any comments from the customer, never once have I seen this supposed “ratings protection” kick in.
IC needs to make it clear to customers exactly what they are rating. And then actually eliminate ratings without any valid reason relating to the shopper. There already needs to be a way shoppers can submit a rating for review, like when we respond to an order issue. And then it actually needs to be reviewed.