Debate over the rights of gig workers has only grown in the years since the Department of Labor released an opinion letter classifying gig workers as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2019.
However, many have taken issue with this classification, noting several differences between contractors and gig workers. While the former is able to control their own hours and rates, gig workers only have control over their hours. Tech companies utilizing a gig workforce like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart control their workers’ rates of compensation.
One Instacart driver shared her experience navigating this lack of control through a series of TikTok videos. Maliyah Gibbs (@maliyahgibbs) says a customer cancelled a 125-item order after she had collected half of the order. She claims Instacart would only pay her $7 for her time—and threatened to disable her account when she asked for more.
“I’m so mad that I’m literally shaking,” the TikToker says in the video, which she recorded in her car.
@maliyahgibbs This is only part 1. @Instacart @Instacart Care Team you need to do better!! This shouldn’t be allowed to happen! #instacart #storytime #instacartshopper #instacartshopping ♬ original sound – Maliyah Gibbs
Gibbs explains that she does Instacart as a side gig when she’s bored and has the time to make extra money. When she signed on the morning of May 28, she picked up a 125-item order from Central Market, which she says tipped well—she would have been paid $191.
“So, of course I took it,” she says. “Even though I was like, 125 items, that’s going to take me forever. But, whatever I’m going to take it because it’s good money.”
However, after Gibbs had put “60-something” items for the order into her cart, the customer cancelled it.
“I had gotten like, a bunch of produce, which if you’ve been doing Instacart, you know produce take so long,” she explains in frustration. “And Central Market is like a freaking maze, like bad. It’s a bad maze.”
Gibbs had also picked up freshly packaged meat from behind the counter. She says the order disappeared from her app after alerting her that it had been cancelled “due to inactivity.”
“And I literally had just scanned an item, like kid you not, five seconds prior to this. What do you mean ‘inactivity’?” she questions.
She says she was working hard to make sure everything was to the customer’s standards, noting that she was messaging them throughout her time shopping. “They’re responding, so they know I’m on the order,” she explains.
She messaged Instacart’s support team, asking to be reassigned to the order. After the representative finally located the order, they said she couldn’t get the order back, because the customer had cancelled it.
@maliyahgibbs Part 2. I’m so mad @instacart @instacartcare #instacart #instacartshopper #instacartshopperhelp ♬ original sound – Maliyah Gibbs
Now having to put back the more than 60 items in her cart, Gibbs questioned how much she would be compensated for the hour-and-a-half she had already spent shopping. The Instacart representative told her they would only be able to offer her “batch pay,” a $7-$10 base pay shoppers receive as a combination of their batch incentive and delivery distance. In this case, the rep said she would be paid $7.
“$7 is not going to cut it,” Gibbs continues in the video. “I spent so much time, wasting my time, shopping for this order, what do you mean ‘$7’? I was like, ‘You can give me more than $7 for this order. You’ve given me more than that to go return an item to the store when the customer wasn’t available to receive the item.”
She adds that the representative she was messaging with was “snappy” and “rude,” and she shared screenshots of their interaction in a third video.
The support representative threatened to add a note on her profile to put her account under review and disable it—making her unable to accept orders—because she requested an “unnecessary” bump in pay.
“There will be nothing more than this,” the representative’s message reads. “If you still demanding the unnecessary pay I am going to add the note to your profile and the team will review your account and will deactivate it under the bump abuser.”
When she asked to speak to a manager in response, the representative said he would be adding the aforementioned note to her profile.
Gibbs explains that she didn’t expect to be paid $191 for the order, but rather was hoping to be paid a sufficient amount for her time, which she considers to be around $20.
“I can’t control that the customer cancelled it, but you’re like a billion-dollar company,” she urges in the video. “Like, people use Instacart. You have money. Why can’t you compensate me for my time that I’ve already spent doing this.”
@maliyahgibbs Part 3. @instacart @instacartcare #fyp #instacart #instacartshopper #instacartstorytime #instacartshopperhelp #storytime ♬ original sound – Maliyah Gibbs
The TikToker added in the comments that she has since contacted Instacart support multiple times, however, each time they claimed they were unable to offer her more than $7. “Another support person also said he could get fired for giving me an “unnecessary” bump even though it’s not unnecessary bc I did my job for the batch to get canceled,” Gibbs wrote.
Many viewers in the comments rallied behind Gibbs.
“They shouldn’t be able to cancel after it’s started!!” one user argued.
Other users claimed they’ve had the same experience while shopping for Instacart, however, some have had different outcomes.
“This happened to me to!! $200 order and they said someone (another shopper) was already shopping at the same time as me!!! I was LIVID,” one alleged Instacart driver said.
“No girl , something similar happened to me on a $70 order, they paid me 50 !! For the time and gas spent ! Call again, speak to someone else !!” another commented.
The Daily Dot reached out to both Gibbs and Instacart via email.
Editor’s note: The Daily Dot covered this viral video twice in error.
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