Instacart will compensate workers who get stiffed on tips

Couriers can also cash out their tips much sooner.

Instacart is doing more to limit the damage from customers who shortchange drivers (aka shoppers in Instacart lingo) through "tip baiting." The service is introducing "tip protection" for shoppers that covers up to $10 if a customer eliminates their tip after delivery without reporting an order problem. This won't always cover the full tip and suggests earlier initiatives (such as requiring feedback on zero-tip orders) weren't effective, but should prevent couriers from suffering particularly severe financial blows.

The company is also making it easier for shoppers to collect their tips by shrinking the cash-out window from 24 hours to just two. The platform is also rolling out a previously-tested prompt that asks customers to consider increasing their tips when they give shoppers five-star ratings. This has led to a slight 6 percent increase in average shopper earnings during the pilot phase, Instacart claimed.

The tipping changes come alongside new batch types that let shoppers make the most of their travel time. Multi-store batches let them pick up orders from numerous locations, and they can accept new customers' orders while they're already in a store, not just before they start shopping. They might not miss out on as many income opportunities, to put it another way.

The additions are part of a four-month improvement plan for Instacart shoppers that includes live phone support and in-store app navigation features introduced in March. More upgrades are coming over the next two months, Instacart said,

The additions come as Instacart faces pressure on multiple fronts. Legislators called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate tip baiting back in 2020, and they've been pushing for greater benefits for gig workers in recent months. The company has also faced unionization efforts, and the move toward ever-faster deliveries hasn't exactly been gentle on shoppers. In theory, at least, these latest changes will address the complaints and keep shoppers from working for rival services.