Gig Workers Collective
6 min readNov 1, 2019


Dear Apoorva Mehta (Founder and CEO of Instacart),

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, through Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Instacart Shoppers will be walking-off for the fourth consecutive year. These three days of action serve as a reminder that our work is absolutely indispensable to you and your company, and central to the continuing daily operations of Instacart. There is no Instacart without Shoppers.

You have a well-documented history of unscrupulous actions against Instacart’s Shoppers. Shoppers around the country organized for the first time in September of 2016 when Instacart announced it would remove tipping from the app’s interface. Our 10% default tip was replaced with a sneaky and identical-looking 10% service fee, which Instacart implied went directly to us workers -- but of course, that was a lie and it didn’t. We organized a walk-off in response to this maneuver and you eventually responded by reinstating in-app tipping with one major caveat: that the service fee remained front and center during the checkout process. The option to properly tip -- which you misleadingly referred to as an “additional tip” -- was hidden.

We walked off again in November of 2017 when Instacart’s “dynamic” commission-based pay model dropped so low that it resulted in some Shoppers earning as little as $1 per hour.

We caught you withholding Shoppers tips and over-charging customers via the service fee in February of 2018. After we crowdsourced the evidence and data of these manipulations, you were forced to apologize and return the misappropriated tips and charges to Shoppers and customers alike.

In September of 2018 you admitted that Instacart needed to treat Shoppers “much, much better.” You said, “we have made mistakes in the past, and we have debt with our Shoppers.”

Not even two months after proclaiming that improving Instacart’s relationship with Shoppers was “a core focus of our company” you instituted the largest pay cut Shoppers have ever sustained. You eliminated commission-based pay -- which paid on an understandable and transparent per-order, per-item basis -- in favor of pay determined by a black-box algorithm. There was no longer understanding behind the amounts we were paid; every bit of pay transparency and predictability we had vanished overnight. The algorithm which determined our pay had no tie to the time, difficulty, or number of the orders we experienced with each batch.

To add insult to injury, your algorithm was programmed to adjust our base pay (Instacart’s contribution to Shoppers’ earnings) downward with each dollar and each cent our customers tipped, resulting in tips no longer being real tips, but rather offsetting Instacart’s contribution to our pay. You reduced our pay to less than $1 per order on orders where customers tipped generously. Shoppers called for and maintained a perpetual soft-strike against Instacart for over two months, refusing orders that fell under a reasonable pay floor. This soft-strike disrupted and impacted Instacart’s batching system-wide to the extent that you could no longer guarantee batch fulfillment and delivery within two hours. Instacart responded by extending delivery windows to an unprecedented five hours, and still, the company failed to fulfill and deliver orders in a timely matter -- if they were fulfilled and delivered at all.

By February of 2019, you were once again forced to publicly apologize to Shoppers and customers. You had to retroactively compensate us for our stolen tips, and recalibrate your pay algorithm to remove tips as a determining factor when generating offers presented to Shoppers. You released a public statement titled “Doing Right By Our Shoppers” while you simultaneously doubled down on this unreliable, algorithm-determined pay schedule, and quietly rolled out another pay cut which lowered minimum our batch guarantees by up to 30%, from $10 to a measly $7 in nearly all markets.

Every year we push back as our pay spirals further down the drain, and Instacart’s valuation swells by the billions, and your net worth skyrockets. When will enough be enough? Because of your greed or inaction, or lack of concern, Shoppers now struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads.

You have demonstrated a pattern of behavior as CEO of eviscerating our pay and pirating our tips. It would cost you, Apoorva, absolutely nothing to restore our previous tip defaults to at least 10%. Yet on the eve of our walk-off, you have yet to respond in any way to our demand. You have consistently demonstrated your deep-seated disdain for your workers, you won't even open the door to face those of us delivering your personal orders to your luxe SoMa apartment.

Understand this: You are the CEO, but we hold the power. We are highly organized and more agitated than ever. We stand fully committed to perpetually continue to utilize our collective power unless and until our demands are met.

You launched 20 failed start-ups before Instacart. Whether this will be your first success or your 21st failure will in no small part hinge upon repairing your decayed relationship with Shoppers. Restoring that relationship begins with Instacart acknowledging and meeting our needs and our demands. With the anger of thousands of Shoppers and California’s AB5 both looming overhead, the future of your company rests in your hands, Apoorva.


Instacart Workers:

Aaron Mckenzie
Airica Haag
Alexis Burger
Alfred Arreola
Alicia DiCorcia
Alysha Alvarado
Alyssa Bauman
Alyssa Longobardi
Alyssa Rogers
Amber Brice
Amber Dawn
Amber Nicole Sims
Andrea Harrison
Angee Locqz
Angie Kufner
Ann Bain
Anna Robinson
Ariana Marie Diaz
Aryn Grayeski
Ashley Cameron
Astrid Mills
AT Vallett
BE Ruiz
Bobbie Mudgett
Bobbie Vaughan
Brenda Cohen
Brenda Shaley
Brittany Cupp-Ryan
Bronwyn Judith
Bryann Robinson
Caitlin Portzline
Cammy Hardwig Thompson
Carol Chantiny
Cathy Farris Morgan
Cathy Young
Cheryl Zachary Grabarczyk
Chrissy Rose
Christina Hertz
Christina L Wideman
Christina O’Connor
Cindy Meredith
Cynthia Thompson
Dana Howard Smith
Danielle Dassero
Darlene Conner
Darrian Dowdy
David Walter
Dawn Clarke
Dawn Droney-Hall
Deborah Dewhirst
Des Iree
Diane Hersom
Dianne James
Donna Dudek Withers
Dru Vega
Elizabeth Denny
Emily E Dee
Erica Osborne
Esther Elmore
Felicia Campbell
Francesca Pizzo Pipitone
Ginger Navarrete
Glen Meyers
Hali Moore
Hazel Clements
Heather Bynum
Heather Daniels
Heather Gilmore
Heather Holliday
Heddy Sanchez
Heidi Ho Carrico
Holly Horter
Iron Rikki
Ivy Vheinz
Jackie Horner
Jaime Brown
James Kubiak
Jamie Tunison-Sanders
Janet Devers
Jason Hiser
Jennifer Anne Mooney
Jennifer Meyers
Jennifer P. Ayvazian
Jennifer Stickle Fortin
Jessica Lea Bell
Jessica Lindeman
Jessica Marie Hildebrand
Jessica Myers
Jessica Nelms
Jim Kremer
Joanne Discala
Jodi Loendorf
John Michael Smith
Johnny Kwest
Jordan Anderson
Julie Lynn
Julie Young
Kara Robeson
Karissa Thomson
Katelyn Connor
Katrina Custer
Kayla Chamberlain
Kayla Marie Slaton
Keegstra Jo
Keith Lindabery
Kelli Vilchis
Kelly Dawn
Kelly Marquez
Kelly Walter
Kim Chesser
Kim McMurray
Kim Owens
Kim Wolfrey
Kimber Shilpetski
Kris Clark
Kristen Price
Kristina Dixon
Lala Muhammad
Laura DUdley
Layshon Suell
Leah Enking
Leia Cameron
Lisa Farris
Lisa Jones
Lisa Swisher
Lorie Dial-Bowie
Lynne Marr
Mando Behr
Mandy Lynn
Maria Crawford
Maria Krstic Mongelli
María N. Ydrogo O.
Maria Pacheco
Marie A Johnston
Marie-Ann Alacs
Marlyn Joseph
Martha Silva Lopez
Maureen Dodson
Maureen Foote
Meagan Smith
Megan Campagna
Megan Coblentz Carter
Melissa Elmahy
Melissa Rose
Mercedes Maltese
Meredith Porter
Michele Kabacinski
Michelle Hendrickson
Michelle Moore Macias
Mike Smith
Moumita Urias Roy
Nakia Wathadhappenwas' Sykes
Natasha Beck-King
Neener Paris
Netty Kock
Nicole Carroll
Nikki Ak-Combs
Olivia Marie Creasy
Paige Turner
Patricia Dougherty
Patricia Richmond
Patrick Brian Heafner
Paul Bolvari
Paulyn Beyan
Pete Jensen
Rachel Jenkins
Renie Holman
Rob Isselbaecher
Robin M. Pape
Ryann Nykole
Sara Coykendall
Sarah Christiansen
Sarah Eleanor
Sarah Elizabeth Kahler
Sarah Kabealo
Sarah Lynn
Sarah Rebecca Witten
Scott DeNicola
Shai Bearden
Shannon M Doering
Sharon Maze-Goen
Shay Wa
Sherona Chuks
Stacey Miller Martino
Steph Klinger
Stephanie Dennison Rea
Stephanie Marie Count
Steve Strouts
Sue Hartwig Harr
Susan Knobler
Susannah Maynard
Suzanne Dufrane
Tamila Dorton
Tania Sosa
Tiffany Charbonnet
Tiffany Crook
Tim Duggan
Tina N Manuel Buckley
Tishia Guess
Tonya Lynn O’Neal
Tracey Gunter
Twyla Robinson
Vanessa Rae
Vera Lopez
Victoria Lynn Frazier
Vinny Orlando
Wanda Garcia
Wendie Fennessy
Wendy Barthel
Will Anderson
Wilma Ruiz
Zion Vasquez