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I'm an Instacart shopper. I log on at 4 a.m., travel to other cities, and even stay in hotels to make more money.

Alex Bitter   

I'm an Instacart shopper. I log on at 4 a.m., travel to other cities, and even stay in hotels to make more money.
  • Instacart recently cut base pay for shoppers from $7 to $4 per batch of orders.
  • One driver, who started working for Instacart in 2020, described his experience to Insider.

This as-told-to story is based on a conversation with an Instacart shopper in Oregon. He has shopped for Instacart for three years. He described what it's like shopping and delivering orders for the service. He asked to remain anonymous to protect his job, but Insider has verified his identity and employment. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I normally start my day at about 3:30 in the morning.

I turn the app on around 4. We have access to Jacksons' ExtraMile, 7-Eleven, and other convenience gas stations that are open 24 hours. There have been times that I've taken early orders. Every once in a while, there'll be a decent order that I can pick up.

My regular day doesn't usually start until 6. I leave my house probably about 5:45, and then I show up to Fred Meyer. I will shop at Fred Meyer as long as the time permits until it's time to go to Costco at 10 o'clock.

Shoppers try to be in the Costco parking lot so that we can sift through the orders once they drop at 10. I've been there with other shoppers with the same metrics as me — and maybe even worse metrics than me. They are seeing orders before me.

I don't know why that is. When I contact Instacart's Trust and Care and ask them, "Is there something wrong with the app?" they say, "All orders go out to all Diamond Cart shoppers and five-star rated shoppers at the same time."

(Diamond Cart shoppers have earned 2,000 points based on the number of orders they've shopped within the last three months, according to Instacart.)

This is not true. I know this because I also use my wife's account on a separate phone when I shop. Yesterday, I saw eight orders of the drop on my phone and not a single order on my wife's, who also shops for Instacart.

Good-paying orders on Instacart have gotten scarce over the last three years

If I sit at Costco longer than two hours without an order, I usually pack it up and leave. If I leave Costco, let's say around 6 o'clock, then I can catch the Fred Meyer window from about 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sometimes I work until 9 o'clock at night catching order after order.

When I started working for Instacart, the pay was amazing. When we first started my wife's account in 2020, you still got mileage pay in addition to your batch pay. Early on, catching an $80 order wasn't all that special.

Now, if you get an $80 order, you're doing cartwheels in the parking lot. I mostly look for orders over $50.

Since the base-pay cut, they're flooding our phones with all these little tiny orders, and none of these big orders are coming through.

I've got a screenshot right now on my phone that shows an order that only pays $7.58. It's 112 units, and the delivery address is 15 miles away. Right now, I'm doing a three-order batch. This batch pays $58.91. I waited an hour to catch this.

I'll drive to other parts of the state and even stay overnight in hotels to make more money

Sometimes, I try to work the map. I go to one town about 45 minutes away, and I catch an order that's going toward a Costco in Salem. So, I'll take that order so that I can go straight from there to the other Costco.

If I'm going to go to Bend (a city in Southern Oregon), I pre-plan it a few weeks out. That way, I can get a hotel room, leave on Friday morning, be there by 10 o'clock for the drop for Costco, and then work that area for three days, then drive back home. I've been thinking about doing this over the Labor Day weekend.

I don't want to be doing this forever, sunup to sundown. I have a 15-year-old at home that I'd love to be able to spend some kind of time with. I have a loving wife that I would be able to spend time with.

Instacart needs to increase its pay for shoppers, not cut it

I've been doing this full-time for a few years. Some people say, "Oh, it's just supposed to be a side hustle." No, this is not a side hustle for some of us. This is actually a job.

Instacart could fix our paychecks. This is a company that started up in 2012, and they didn't really have any kind of recognition. When the pandemic hit, Instacart had a name. Instacart didn't grow that name by themselves. No, they grew that name on the back of shoppers who carried them through the pandemic, risking our lives and our health to grow their platform.

For them to take that money during the base cut, I personally am insulted. I won't quit, but I am always thinking about other people in this situation. What about the new shopper who has no idea what the is difference between a good batch and a bad batch?

Instacart told Insider that a shopper holding two shopper accounts is "a direct and clear" violation of Instacart guidelines that could result in deactivation. The shopper Insider spoke to and his wife both shop for Instacart and both have accounts. They do sometimes share accounts.

Instacart also pointed to multiple factors influencing the batches that shoppers see, including how close a shopper is to a store, a customer's rating, and whether they have agreed to shop and deliver heavy items. Diamond Cart shoppers see batches before other shoppers if they are in a highlighted area around a store.

Do you work for Instacart or another shopping or delivery service and have a story to share? Reach out to this reporter at

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