This Week: Are Instacart Bots Grabbing Batch Orders? And Other News

Good day and welcome back to This Week in Rideshare News! If you’re an Instacart shopper and you aren’t receiving batches, you want to see this episode since we’re going to cover the so called Instacart bots. Today I’m interviewing Jason, my friend, and Instacart shopper regarding bots and other pertinent topics.

I also delve into:

  • California vs Uber &* Lyft!
  • What Would You Do – Courier Related

Cecily:                  Hey guys, what’s up? It’s Cecily and I have three topics for you this week. The first being, are Instacart bots taking all the orders? Number two, California comes for Uber and Lyft and oh, it’s not pretty. And the third one, what would you do if someone gave you a cash tip right now in these viral times? Stay tuned and we’re going to get to it. It’s this week in Rideshare News.

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Cecily:                  Are bots stealing Instacart’s business? What the heck is going on with Instacart? At the start of this pandemic, Instacart shoppers were making a whole lot of money. A whole lot. Grocery delivery was at an all-time high. And shoppers saw a crazy dramatic increase to their income. And room for even more folks, displaced workers to get in on the money grab. I kept seeing post after post on Twitter, on Facebook, people screenshoting their earnings, talking about how easy it was to flip the money. I mean, it was awesome. The demand was so high that shoppers were even able to assemble and leverage … or pressure Instacart into giving them additional protections, the hand sanitizer and the mask and all that kind of stuff.

Cecily:                  But, unfortunately, it has been what? Three, four weeks and workers across the country are complaining about not being able to get batch orders. The demand for delivery is still high. Still takes me four days to get groceries delivered. I don’t get it. So I interviewed my friend, Jason, who works in the entertainment business. He’s on the platform while we’re shut down. I did an interview where we’re discussing various things about Instacart on my channel. But I asked him about the bots and this is what he had to say.

Cecily:                  Three weeks ago, I heard people talking about, “There’s so much money on here. I’m making hand over fist.” And now people are complaining. So, first and foremost, do you even know what I’m talking about? Is this affecting you at all?

Jason:                   Yes. First and foremost, I know exactly what you’re talking about. And, yes, it was affecting me a great deal.

Jason:                   With respect to the bots, I read up about it about three weeks ago. Things that were happening in Florida where Instacart shoppers noticed a sharp decline in the number of available batches. That’s what we call it, when you can pick up somebody’s order. The number of batches available. And the fact on top of that, that when they would come in, they would instantly be taken away within seconds. So with this being Los Angeles, there’s a ridiculous number of Instacart batches or purchases that come in for pickup. And they were all going away really, really fast.

Jason:                   It has definitely affected my bottom line. You have to now have some sort of scheme, I call it, to when it comes to Instacart.

Cecily:                  What do you mean?

Jason:                   Meaning that … for instance, I could my day whenever, when it came to Instacart. And I know that I could have at least … when I open the app, I can have at least five to ten batches or orders waiting on me. Now, when you open it up, nine times out of 10, you’re going to have to continue to refresh because there will be nothing in that queue waiting for you when you open the app. So like other-

Cecily:                  And it wasn’t like that before?

Jason:                   No, it wasn’t like that before at all. For instance, I was doing DoorDash maybe a month and a half before I started Instacart. Gig economy, you toggle back and forth whenever, whatever. I noticed that when I would toggle into Instacart normal to see a number of batches waiting.

Jason:                   And then … and this is the funniest thing ever. Before all this happened with respect to the pandemic and with respect to the bots. I read an article referring to Florida saying that there was an issue and it had to do with bots or algorithms, programs that were being created. That were basically created to make an account, go in, electronically grab those accounts, and then farm them out to undocumented workers who couldn’t necessarily qualify to be an Instacart driver for one reason or another. And then they would pay them an hourly wage for doing that job. So I thought-

Cecily:                  Oh, wow.

Jason:                   Yeah.

Cecily:                  So it’s not like there’s one person who got this app and is trying to get more jobs. There’s a person who’s actually facilitating and putting these things out there to other non-essential shoppers, basically, right?

Jason:                   There’s companies. There’s full on enterprises that-

Cecily:                  Companies?

Jason:                   Yes.

Cecily:                  What?

Jason:                   Yeah, there’s articles out there to where Instacart actually got wind of it. Because Instacart drivers were complaining. And they found the company, one of them. They did some legal stuff, got them out of there. The company that got closed down that was doing this turned around and started two more companies, just to do the same thing over again.

Jason:                   It really didn’t click that this was going on because you think, “Okay, thousands of people, millions of people are losing their jobs. Maybe Instacart’s just flooded with new people who wanted [inaudible 00:05:26] make money.” And with that, you have the ability to have competition, therefore it may not be a whole lot of jobs out there anymore.

Jason:                   Until you realize that the jobs are coming in so quick and they’re going out within seconds. That’s you always have to be in the app, you cannot wait for push notifications to come out.

Cecily:                  Oh wow.

Jason:                   Because by the time you get the push notification with Instacart, you have a shopping trip for $90 to $130 and you go in to try to grab it. And it’s already gone.

Cecily:                  Really?

Jason:                   The reason why is that my suspicions are that the algorithm or whatever program that they’ve created, the bot. Stays within the app. And then as soon as the app populates, it immediately does something to where it grabs as many jobs as it can. And then distribute those jobs to the hourly people as opposed to the people who were actually on Instacart.

Cecily:                  If you haven’t heard Uber and Lyft are being sued again. But definitely, definitely for good reason. California’s attorney general and a coalition of city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have filed suit against Uber and Lyft for wrongfully classifying their drivers as independent contractors in violation of a state law that makes them employees. That’s what’s happening here. Now although AB-5 took effect at the first of the year, both Uber and Lyft and many other gig economy companies that operate here in California have resisted and are not taking steps to reclassify their drivers.

Cecily:                  Usher in a disaster, like COVID-19. And you begin to see why and how employee protections and benefits are necessary to the survival of so many people. Not withstanding, both Uber and Lyft have all out refuse to acknowledge that gig workers are employees who have refused to pay towards any unemployment claims for drivers. Now, with over 3.17 million unemployment applications filed in the past several weeks, 500,000 of those were from gig workers last week. There’s no way that States will be able to pay unemployment claims without holding gig companies responsible.

Cecily:                  Now, some experts say that this is our new normal. Hard pause here, guys. The virus doesn’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon. And with nine States requesting more money to pay employment claims as of this past Monday. That’ll be New York, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, and Massachusetts and Ohio. I suspect that more States will be suing Uber and Lyft as well. And I am here for that.

Cecily:                  And now for my favorite segment, that is what would you do? I thought this was humorous. This is light, it’s fun and it’s on topic. So laugh, okay?

Cecily:                  I saw a few shoppers early on saying, “I can’t believe that when I walked away that they sprayed the stuff down. Or they were really anti, wanting to touch the bags.” And I thought, well, “Well, why would you be offended?’

Jason:                   To answer your question. I was put off the first day that I saw it happen.

Cecily:                  You took it personal?

Jason:                   Because I tell you this much. Because I saw this happening before the pandemic happened.

Cecily:                  Oh, okay.

Jason:                   That’s a whole nother, whatever. But I got over it when I realized, connected the two, like, “Okay, what would you do if you knew this was going on?”

Cecily:                  Right.

Jason:                   Contact-less delivery or leave that here or the celebrity who had the bottle and he was spraying down everything as I walked out, I walked away from his home. Just spraying everything, making sure everything was disinfected. I can’t be mad at that because I’m the same person that will get kind of pissed to a degree. If I’m in the grocery store and I’m shopping and you won’t wait until I’m by you, but you brush up against me. So now there’s no six foot rule being applied. And then for damn sure, there ain’t no no-touch rule being applied. I don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know what happened. Six months ago, that wouldn’t have been a problem, oh they brushed up against me, whatever, whatever.

Cecily:                  Right.

Jason:                   Now, you’re thinking about how long does the virus live on certain services?

Cecily:                  Right.

Jason:                   Do they look clean? Do they look like they take care of themselves? Did they cough? Was it a dry cough? Was it a wet cough?

Cecily:                  Oh my God.

Jason:                   Your mind starts to go and it’s a terrible way to live to a degree. But that’s just how we’re living these days. Is that you start to evaluate everybody who is in that environment who doesn’t have a mask on. Now I’m contemplating if I’m in a store, I see somebody walk in the store, they don’t have a mask on. I’m not a snitch, but I’m almost like, [crosstalk 00:10:28] this dude. Like I’m not a snitch but in certain instances for their own protection and for mine. It’d be like, “Yo, you need to make an announcement over the PA. You can’t be in here without a mask.”

Cecily:                  I don’t think it’s a big deal, but some people take offense to it. I’ve seen people complain about it on Facebook. And I’ve jumped in and said, “Okay, realistically, this is probably what’s going on. Don’t take it personal.” But I don’t think I’ve actually asked you guys this question. Let me know what your response is in the comments. What would you do?

Cecily:                  Thank you so much for watching. You can check out my videos every single Saturday morning, I’m here. Turn on your notifications so that you know when our new videos are going up. If you have any specific questions for me, you can contact me on my YouTube channel or on my Facebook. So good to see you guys. Please be safe and make that money, man. Bye.

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