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A viral video appears to show Walmart Spark shoppers with perishable groceries waiting for a ride in the Arizona sun

Alex Bitter,Dominick Reuter   

A viral video appears to show Walmart Spark shoppers with perishable groceries waiting for a ride in the Arizona sun
  • A viral video appears to show Walmart Spark workers leaving perishable groceries in the sun.
  • The video, posted last week on YouTube, was filmed in the parking lot of an Arizona Walmart.

A video from a gig-work YouTuber is getting attention for showing two individuals who appear to be Walmart Spark contractors waiting in a parking lot as their carts containing milk and other groceries sit in the sun.

The video, posted on January 6 by the account "Uber Lyft Phoenix" on YouTube, shows two apparent Spark shoppers resting on a wall at a Walmart in Chandler, Arizona. In front of them are two carts full of household essentials, including a jug of detergent and a gallon of milk.

There's just one thing wrong: Neither seems to have a car to deliver the groceries, the narrator, a driver named Aaron, says in the video, which has been viewed about 190,000 times.

"Both of these guys have carts full of groceries with no ride," he says in the video. "These customers' orders are sitting here in the parking lot," he adds, zooming in on the carts to show a gallon of milk in one of them. AccuWeather records show the temperature was about 57 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.

Twelve minutes later, a car pulls up, and the individuals start loading the groceries into the trunk, the video shows.

Aaron declined to have his full name used in this article for fear of being deactivated by Spark. Business Insider spoke with him about his experience and verified his status as a Spark contractor.

He told BI one member of the group showed him his Spark app, and "self-checkout Walmart employees confirmed to me they're doing Spark."

Two other Spark drivers told BI they'd seen similar instances of fellow contractors in parking lots with groceries waiting for a vehicle to arrive to complete the delivery.

"Ensuring customers get their order delivered on time and at the quality they expect is a top priority," a Walmart spokesperson told BI. "Perishable items must be delivered within a certain time period, which begins when the first perishable item is shopped."

"In instances when an order is not delivered within the designated time period, drivers are asked to return the order to the store, and we give customers the option for redelivery or a refund," the spokesperson said.

A few days after he posted his initial video, Aaron told BI that most of the workers he filmed were gone and had been replaced with others who followed the same routine.

In-store shopping orders tended to pay better than curbside-pickup orders, Aaron said, and while he once had a reliable mix of the two, it had been about two weeks since his last shop order.

He also said he wasn't only frustrated with seeing people snag the best shopping orders without a car to deliver them in, but also with the way they were handling customers' groceries.

Walmart has time limits on delivering perishable items

There appear to be violations of numerous platform and food-safety rules.

For starters, Walmart automatically cancels orders that contain perishable items if they've been off the shelf for too long, according to the retailer's guidance for delivery workers.

That window is either 75 or 90 minutes, depending on the type of order, and it applies to items that need to be kept cold, such as milk and ice cream, as well as hot food, such as rotisserie chicken. When an order is canceled, drivers are told to return the items to the store where they picked them up, the guidance states.

Aaron said he'd noticed one of the shoppers' phone apps indicated he hadn't yet left the store's exit, even though the shopper had been outside in the parking lot for at least 25 minutes.

Beyond food safety, Spark requires shoppers to have a reliable vehicle, and only verified drivers are allowed to participate in deliveries.

Lastly, drivers are limited to a single account, and account sharing is prohibited, but some drivers appear to be using multiple accounts to shop and deliver orders from Walmart, as BI reported last year. Additionally, many Spark drivers appear to be using accounts with names other than their own.

The Arizona video came more than two months after Walmart rolled out a national identity-verification system that periodically prompts workers to provide a photo of themselves and their driver's license.

The press release also said bots were "an industry problem we take very seriously."

Spark accounts are also available to purchase or rent in some Facebook groups or through accounts on Instagram. Walmart previously told BI that selling, renting, or borrowing accounts goes against its policies for Spark workers.

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