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Instacart revises pay policy after accusations of tip stealing

It had included tips as part of shoppers' minimum pay.
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Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Instacart is learning a hard lesson about the importance of paying workers properly. The grocery delivery service is revising its pay policies for shoppers after complaints that it was counting customer tips toward its minimum pay goals -- as far as workers were concerned, stealing tips. From now on, tips will "always be separate" from Instacart's contribution if it has to compensate a shopper to reach minimum pay. Instacart is also raising the minimum pay for all order batches. Where it used to pay shoppers at least $3, it'll now offer $5 for delivery-only batches (where someone else has already picked the groceries) or $7 to $10 for situations where workers both shop and deliver.

To make up for the shortfalls, Instacart plans to retroactively pay shoppers whose tips were included in minimums. If they only received $6 from Instacart and got a tip to reach the $10 mark, for example, they'll get $4 in additional compensation. The company will also do more to reduce the chances of shoppers dealing with "smaller, outlying" batches where the pay isn't worth the effort involved.

This won't please everyone. Working Washington has called for a transparent pay structure that ensures Instacart's words and deeds match. BuzzFeed, meanwhile, noted that DoorDash still uses a tipping structure similar to what Instacart was using before the latest changes. And this won't address broader accusations that online services have a bad habit of underpaying workers. It's a start, though, and you might not feel quite so guilty the next time you order groceries with your phone.

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