Instacart Removes Worker Bonus After Shoppers Strike
The company says bonuses ‘did not meaningfully improve quality’
Instacart told its workers Thursday that they will no longer receive a $3 “quality bonus” for every five-star rating they receive from customers.
The company announced the policy shift in an email shortly after a three-day strike in which workers protested changes to how they are paid. Instacart’s decision reflects the unstable income of gig economy contractors — some of whom are now fighting technology companies for basic workers’ rights.
“Over the last several years, we’ve experimented with numerous versions of the quality bonus, in addition to other boosts and incentives,” says the email, which OneZero reviewed. “During the last year, we offered a new version of the quality bonus and found that it did not meaningfully improve quality. As a result, we will no longer be offering the quality bonus beginning next week.”
But a group of workers has accused Instacart of having a different motivation. The group received a tip implying that the company had moved up its timeline for the change from January 2020 to next week.
“This is clearly a retaliatory act,” the group wrote in a Medium post titled “Instacart Has Retaliated Against Us,” which was later removed by the platform after it was “found in violation of the Medium rules.” A spokesperson for Medium, which owns OneZero, declined to comment on the post’s removal. The Instacart workers group later published an edited version of the post, which is still available.
November’s strike, which ended on Tuesday, marked the fourth consecutive year that Instacart workers walked off the job over pay. In 2016, the app’s suggested 10% tip was replaced with “an identical-looking” service fee that went directly into Instacart’s coffers, not to shoppers, Instacart workers wrote in an open letter to Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta. The letter stated various ways that Instacart, which is valued at nearly $8 billion, has made negative tweaks to its tipping system and reduced wages. The app currently suggests a 5% tip atop a 5% service fee, which does not amount to a livable wage, say workers. (Customers can tip more if they choose.)