Instacart has become a household name in the grocery delivery services world. However, a fascinating phenomenon is unfolding within this bustling industry. Instacart shoppers are occasionally finding themselves in unexpected situations where canceled orders or unreachable customers lead to a surprising perk: free groceries.
Instacart shoppers often embark on their grocery runs with dedication, only to encounter last-minute obstacles like canceled orders or customers who are nowhere to be found when they arrive. Surprisingly, these hurdles sometimes lead to a windfall of free groceries.
TikTok user iamlo.uie posted a video in July recounting an incident where a customer canceled a $200 grocery order just as he arrived at their doorstep. Upon contacting Instacart support, the company gave him permission to keep the groceries. In the video, he gleefully exclaims, “This is the only perk of working Instacart, honestly,” as he showcases bags filled with Greek yogurt, eggs, and veggie burgers.
Another TikTok user, hobochronicles, shared a similar experience in May. They revealed bags of groceries from a Publix store in the back seat of their car, explaining, “We got all these groceries for free because we couldn’t locate the right address, and Instacart was like, ‘Keep ’em, just return the non-perishable items to Publix.'”
One key factor contributing to these unexpected windfalls is the way Instacart operates. The company provides shoppers with debit cards to pay for items, which means that when orders are canceled or undeliverable, Instacart incurs the cost.
While Instacart generally instructs shoppers to return items to the store when they can’t complete a delivery, there’s a twist to the story. Some retailers refuse refunds on perishable items like fresh produce. In such cases, Instacart encourages shoppers to return the accepted items and either keep or donate the remaining ones.
One California shopper shared an intriguing anecdote with Insider. A support agent canceled an order he had shopped at a Costco store after he had purchased the items. This left him with approximately $100 worth of pre-cut vegetables and other chilled foods that Costco wouldn’t accept as returns. He remarked, “It’s just insane, the kind of stuff that we see happen,” expressing curiosity about Instacart’s loss ratios.
All in all, the world of Instacart shopping holds surprises beyond delivering groceries. For some shoppers, canceled orders and unreachable customers occasionally translate into a bountiful supply of free food. These unexpected perks have created quite a buzz on social media, shedding light on a fascinating aspect of the grocery delivery industry.