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‘Is this tip baiting?’: Instacart delivery drivers call out an unethical practice where customers change tip amounts upon delivery

‘Definitely baiting.’


Jack Alban


Instacart delivery drivers are calling attention to an unethical practice, called tip baiting, where customers incentivize them to pick up their order with a large tip that they change upon delivery.

Working for an independent delivery service application like DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, and Instacart, offers employees a chance to set their own hours and work at their own pace. On paper, it sounds like either a perfect side hustle to earn a few extra bucks, or maybe even a full-time gig depending on how well people tip in your area.

Like many servers who work in restaurants, the income of delivery drivers is largely contingent upon how well people tip. Due to this, on delivery service applications, customers who don’t tip in advance can experience long wait times for their orders. In some instances, delivery drivers will decline to accept deliveries without tips.

While tip-baiting has become a hot topic for DoorDash on social media, it appears that Instacart shoppers are experiencing a similar phenomenon. A viral TikTok from @thatgiglife shows a small Instacart order with a base pay of $9.62 and a $385 tip. In the overlay text, the creator asks, “Is this tip baiting?”

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Instacart suggests a 5% tip for orders. While every service worker would value a large tip, this TikToker couldn’t help but think that whoever “pre-tipped” them $385.91 to complete their order must be “baiting” them into trying to go above and beyond, only to rescind that tip once the items have been delivered.

Many commenters who saw the TikTok were also convinced that this was a clear cut case of tip-baiting:

“They gonna change that to 3.85,” one user said.

“Definitely baiting. What were the items?” another remarked.

“She probably wanted to tip $38.55,” a third wrote.

Some folks offered up solutions to end tip baiting once and for all, which would include not allowing customers to alter their tips once the order has been placed: “They should make it to where they can’t change it back. Have a double verification on if they accept that amount the person can’t change it.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to @thatgiglife on TikTok and Instacart via press email for comment.

The Daily Dot