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Instacart shoppers buying items for themselves, customers say

Customers say their Instacart shopper added items to their cart and kept them for themselves.
Screenshot of Instacart order
Posted at 10:17 AM, Mar 09, 2023

In a world where you can do almost anything virtually, people are choosing to shop online rather than picking their groceries up in person.

“It’s just a convenience for me. If I forgot something for dinner, in two hours, I can have chicken. If I forgot an ingredient, it will be at my door in a few hours,” Julie Dickerson said.

But some customers who use Instacart have reported problems. Several people reached out to Scripps News Indianapolis with complaints that their Instacart shopper added items to their cart but kept them for themselves.

“Chili dinner, macaroni, cheese (and) seasoning. It was clearly what he was fixing for dinner that night, and I paid for it,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said she didn’t notice initially, but she was nickeled and dimed several times. She first realized this after a $20 bag of frozen shrimp was added to her order. She didn’t order or receive it.

“This is theft. I mean there are people that are getting their dinner off of somebody else's credit card," Dickerson said.

Jacqueline Benitez pushes her cart down an aisle at a grocery store.

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Becki Cook has experienced the same issues.

"When it becomes a necessity for somebody to bring it to you, you want to trust that they are going to do it and not steal from you," Cook said.

Cook said it was a few smaller items added to her cart.

“They basically shop for their own groceries, but only enough that each customer doesn’t make a big deal out of it,” Cook said.

Both Cook and Dickerson order delivery through the Kroger App, which partners with Instacart.

"It's disappointing to me because you trust Kroger to have people working for them, or that they are partnered with, that are going to provide a service and not take money from their clients," Cook said.

Kroger said Instacart handles their same-day orders and directed us to them for answers. 

"I have received no such complaints recently," a representative for Kroger said. "Also, if this is an issue with Instacart employees, I’d encourage you to address your questions to Instacart first. We don’t employ the drivers. One option, in the area served by Kroger Delivery: if shoppers choose same day grocery delivery, Instacart and its team handles the orders. If customers can wait for the next day, their grocery orders will be delivered by Kroger Delivery associates in the new blue trucks – and no tipping."

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A representative from the Instacart customer support line said you should call Instacart if you notice an issue, explain what happened, and the company will refund your money. The number is 888-246-7822. 

Instacart says a shopper can be deactivated. 

"I would give you money if you really needed food that bad. I'd give it to you. You don't have to take it from me," Dickerson said. 

Cook said she won't be using Instacart anymore. 

"You've been found out, social media is working its magic again and people are sharing stories. So, I think Instacart better address it or they're going to be losing a lot of money," Cook said. 

The Better Business Bureau in California, where Instacart is based, said it has received 5,050 complaints about the company in three years. 

The company has a B- rating with the BBB of California because there is a government action against it. 

The BBB says if you encounter a problem, make sure you dispute it right away. If Instacart doesn't give you your money back, you can seek a refund from your bank. 

This article was written by Kaitlyn Kendall for Scripps News Indianapolis.