Instacart Grocery Delivery
First of all, let me say that I am not being compensated in any way by reviewing this business.
If you've had a child or have been stuck at home for any reason, you may understand that sometimes you need help. There have been times where we are missing ingredients for dinner and I am unable to run to the store because baby is sleeping or whatever. We regularly use Prime Now, but there are a lot of things that they just do not stock. Enter Instacart, which is a fairly new grocery delivery program/app.
Most recently, we needed chicken breasts for a dinner recipe (we use E-Meals, maybe I'll tell y'all more about that another time). We had just gone grocery shopping and had purchased 3lbs of the chicken, but it unfortunately spoiled because it was on clearance. I wasn't able to go to the store because baby was taking a nap, so I started researching possible grocery delivery options.
Smith's offers delivery, but it was only available for the next day or store pick-up. Walmart also offers curbside pick-up, which I may try in the future. E-Meals mentioned something called Instacart, which I decided to check out. Instacart's website was not very user friendly, but the app was awesome. After entering your zip code, the app shows the available stores in your area. For us, it offered Whole Foods, Smith's, CVS, Petco, Costco and a few others. Since we normally shop at Smith's, I went with that. Ideally, I would've liked to be able to order fresh chicken breasts from the meat counter, but that unfortunately wasn't an option. The app was very user friendly, breaking everything down by department (meat, produce, snacks, beverages, etc). I was able to quickly find chicken breasts and then also remembered we need french bread. Turns out, there is a minimum order of $10, which I really don't think is horrible - so I added some Klondike bars because they were on sale. They have a promo going where your first 3 orders have free delivery and there was only a small service fee ($1.40), so my total was less than $12. I realized after the fact that I should've ordered 2 packages of chicken and was surprised at how easy it was to go back and add another package to my order. Overall, this brought my total to $15.36. Instacart notifies you that they are going to authorize your card for $20, but will only charge the actual total of your items. It's nice that they inform you of that because I know some people freak out when their cards are over-authorized.
Anyhow, I was told that the delivery window would be within 2 hours and officially placed my order at 4:49PM. I received an e-mail saying my order was confirmed and that I would receive text updates as it progressed (similar to apps like Postmates and Uber Eats). At 5:06PM I was notified that Serj had just started shopping, that they would notify me of any changes and also letting me know that my perishable items would be temperature controlled until delivery. At 5:11PM I got another text saying my order was on the way (Serj is quick!!), with an approximate delivery time of 5:25PM. Serj knocked on our door at 5:33PM - less than 1 hour since I had initially placed the order!
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Smith's bag and saw that Serj had purchased fresh chicken breasts from the meat counter! That totally made my day and also made me happy that I chose to use this service. Shortly after delivery, I received a text with a link where I could add a tip and also rate Serj. He definitely got 5 stars and I gave him a generous tip for being so fast, plus getting me fresh chicken (which ended up saving me money).
After some research, it looks as if Instacart charges $5.99 for delivery, or you can join Instacart Express. This option is a yearly subscription, which has 3 tiers:
- Starter - $79/year: 3 free deliveries per month
- Basic - $129/year: 5 free deliveries per month
- Unlimited - $149/year: Unlimited free deliveries
Each of these options requires that your total purchase is at least $35, which seems like a lot to me. These could be good options if you use this service instead of going to the store at all. I don't think we'll try any of these because this is something I will only use in situations like today, where I am unable to go to the store. I am willing to spend $5.99 here and there and only have to order at least $10 in total.
Here's where it gets ugly. While researching Instacart Express, the program chose to automatically register me for this, which I was not interested in. The next day I was making Zuppa Toscana in the slow cooker and realized that I didn't have potatoes. I went to my Instacart app and was excited to use it again, since I had such a wonderful experience the previous day. I definitely ended up regretting that. First, it was around Noon and the app specified that there was surge pricing and that they were charging more than the in-store prices at Smith's. Ok, whatever, I'm still ordering. I get to the delivery screen and it wanted me to pay $11.99 for 1 hour. UGH! Now, I really need these potatoes ASAP and couldn't leave the house because baby was napping again, so once again I agree. If I didn't need these items immediately, I could've paid $9.99 for 2 hour delivery. Both of those numbers are a bit ridiculous, in my opinion. And this is certainly not how you compete with Prime Now.
It's just money (says the stay at home Mom with no income of her own - hopefully you sense my annoyance and the sarcasm here), so I place the order. I put VERY specific instructions in the order that said not to ring the bell or knock because we have a sleeping baby. Once again, since I had such a wonderful experience initially, I was confident that would carry over to this order. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I didn't receive any text updates and the app immediately locked me out, saying that Alicia was shopping and my order couldn't be adjusted. That's fine, I just realized that I put the wrong gate code in the instructions and wanted to "chat" with Alicia to give her the correct details. There were only 2 items on my shopping list, which should've only taken a few minutes for her to get in store. Since I paid for 1 hour delivery, the app estimated that I would receive everything by 1:15PM. At 1:04PM I finally received a text saying that Alicia was shopping - that's obviously not enough time to get from Smith's to our house. Instacart then sent me an e-mail apologizing that they would be unable to get my items to me within the 1 hour time frame. Now I am starting to get frustrated, but there isn't much I can do. The app never updated to say that Alicia ever even left the store and then I suddenly had someone at my door ringing the bell and received a text that she was here. The dogs start barking like crazy and the baby started screaming bloody murder in her nursery. I went out to meet the driver and I explained that I had asked that she not ring the bell. She said she never received that, apologized and explained that "her app had been acting up all day." I don't want to sound like a jerk, but that shouldn't be my problem. Now I have a very upset baby who wouldn't go back to sleep. As crazy as it sounds, this ruined our entire day. I like to keep Rosslyn on a schedule and she was a hot mess for the rest of the afternoon.
Like many other delivery service apps, I received a prompt to rate Alicia's service. I feel bad that I wasn't able to give her a positive review, especially if it really was a glitch with her app, but I felt as if I had no choice. I was able to explain what happened - my 1st issue was paying $11.99 for something I didn't receive (1 hour delivery). My 2nd issue was obviously with her ringing the doorbell. I outlined both of these issues in my reply and hoped to have this addressed. I did get a response from their customer service, apologizing for these issues. The representative said that she would add a credit to my account, which could be applied to my next order over $35. She never specified how much that credit was and I still haven't been able to find anything on my account. I explained to her that, although I appreciate her reply, I didn't feel that this was acceptable - not only had I not ever placed an order any where near $35, I was not likely to ever use their service again. I asked that she just refund the $11.99 delivery charge to my debit card. I received what appeared to be a form reply because most of the paragraphs were the same as were in her previous e-mail. Horrible service! She was also very patronizing, saying she would be happy to "go above an beyond" by refunding the delivery fee. I guess she didn't understand that I paid for something that I did not receive - refunding this wasn't going above and beyond - she should've proactively done this to ensure I left the conversation happy with the resolution. As of this post, I am still waiting for that credit to my bank account. Needless to say, I am not too happy with Instacart.
Overall, I was initially really impressed with this service and think it could save time and money for us in the future. However, I don't see me utilizing their service again in the future - unless it's an absolute emergency. They obviously have some glitches to work out, especially when it comes to communication with their drivers. Prime Now only requires a minimum order of $25, with a 1 hour delivery fee of only $7.99, and while I can't get everything I need from them, they will continue to be my choice in the future.
They sent me a link to share - if you'd like to try it out for yourself, you can save $10 and get free delivery on your first order by following this link: