I'm disappointed by Instacart.

April 1, 2013

TL;DR Instacart offered a premium subscription called Instacart Express that waives delivery fees on all orders for $99 a year. They seem to have silently changed their policy and now charge $7.99 p/delivery on orders that are under $35. They also claim to have sent an email regarding this policy that at least 3 people have not received nor have they publicly posted any announcement of this policy change on their website.

I try to resist complaining, but one of my favorite startups have let me down in a big way.

Last year when the same-day grocery delivery company, Instacart launched and introduced what they called “Instacart Express”, a premium-subscription service that replaces the individual Instacart delivery fee ($7.99) with a yearly fee of $99 instead, I immediately signed up and joined the Express club.

Things have been great until sometime during mid-March 2013, I started noticing some odd charges on my credit card for Instacart-delivered groceries. It turned out, I’ve been getting charged a $7.99 delivery fee on orders totaling under $35.

This confused me as I’m already explicitly paying the $99 per year to avoid paying a delivery charge for each individual order. This is the reason I use Instacart vs. my other favorite, Postmates (who charge a minimum of $7.99 per order).

I immediately went and checked the terms located at https://www.instacart.com/terms and it seems that there is no mention of either Instacart Express or their delivery fees so I was unable to check why I was being charged. (I’ve since searched the entire site and can’t find any information regarding their delivery policy, let alone anything about Instacart Express).

So I emailed Instacart to find out what was up..

Hi Instacart,

I’ve been an express member for a while now and my past few orders have been subject to a $7.99 delivery fee for under $30.

When I purchased my express subscription as well as renewed it recently (auto renewal) I was under the impression that the $99 p/year covered all delivery fees no matter the amount of the order.

The two orders in question are: xxx, xxx

Thanks, Caleb

The next morning I received this reply:

HI Caleb

So sorry for the confusion regarding this.

We made changes to our policy in regards to the Express feature and sent out an email. I apologize if for some reason you did not receive it.

Orders must be a minimum of $35 now in order to receive free delivery as an Express member.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Mike

This would be a somewhat understandable change were it not for the fact that I..

  • Signed up for a year’s worth of free deliveries. Not a year’s worth of free deliveries over $35. Regardless of the change, they should honor what I signed up at least until my subscription expires.

  • Did not receive an email about this change of policy. Not only did I not receive this email, neither did my wife nor a colleague, who also is a Instacart Express user.

We all have however received plenty of advertisements from Instacart regarding feature announcements, etc, which makes me wonder if an email was sent out at all. Please let me know if you did receive an email about this change.

I’m highly disappointed that the service was modified in this way and even more disappointed that more of an effort was not made to contact me regarding this change or even a link in the email response to the updated terms that I can see.

I don’t plan on using Instacart again for the foreseeable future until they can work out these kinks in notifying customers about large policy changes that affect the things they’ve already paid for.