Imagine this: You pick up some extra work as an Instacart shopper. You see an order come through the app, complete with a temptingly fat tip, accept it, and eagerly get to work. After you deliver the customer's items, the tip suddenly disappears.
The sneaky practice, when a customer zeros out a tip after an order is delivered, is called "tip baiting," and it's well-known among delivery workers not just for Instacart, but other services like DoorDash and Uber Eats. TikTok user @hellothisiskayla explains in the video below:
@hellothisiskayla Stop Tip- Baiting on instacart!!! #instacart #disrespectful #blacklivesmatter #justice #WhatILearned #Hyperfixated #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #share ♬ original sound - Kay-Polar
But the company is fighting back, and now says it will cover shoppers' tips up to $10 if customers remove them after a delivery without reporting an issue with their order.
While Instacart says tip baiting is still relatively rare, this is just the latest effort by the delivery giant to address it. Two years ago, when Instacart became a pandemic necessity for many and landing a delivery slot was difficult thanks to high demand, some customers reportedly offered extra-large tips to lure workers to fulfill their orders first, then removed them after delivery. In response, Instacart started requiring feedback from customers who removed a tip and shortened the window of time during which customers could change a tip from three days to 24 hours.
Instacart is also adding prompts for customers to tip if they haven’t, and will be encouraging higher tips for five-star service, CNN reports.
Tipping continues to be a hot-button issue thanks to inflation and low wages in food service. While Americans became more generous tippers during the pandemic, the trend may be reversing as high food costs strain budgets, The Wall Street Journal reports.