Instacart is adding more support roles to help its shoppers, customers and retail partners as the company faces unprecedented demand for its grocery delivery services due to COVID-19 shelter in place orders.
Today Instacart announced that it has doubled its Care team, from 1,200 agents to 3,000 agents. Care team employees will work on answering questions about how Instacart works, delivery issues, address mishaps and other general woes.
The hiring news comes after Instacart shoppers organized a strike last month, demanding personal protective equipment, hazard pay, default tips and extended sick pay.
Instacart has been on a hiring spree as customer demand increased more than 300% year over year last week alone. Last month, the Instacart shopper community grew to 350,000 active shoppers, up from 200,000 two weeks ago.
Today, along with doubling its Care team, Instacart says it has also hired and signed an additional 15,000 representatives that will join the team by May. With that, Instacart says it will have a Care team of about 18,000 members.
Some of Instacart’s new hires have are experienced support agents recently laid off in the flurry of cuts across the hospitality and travel industry.
With more demand, and thus more stresses on shoppers than ever before, the new members seem like yet another move by Instacart to try to pacify its growing shopper network. Last month, Instacart outlined an extended pay policy and contactless pay option. The company also introduced new product features aimed at making delivery windows for shoppers more flexible and fast.
Earlier this week, tip-baiting emerged as a grotesque tactic used by customers. Customers have been baiting Instacart shoppers to pick up their groceries by putting large tips on the bill through the app. Then, once the shopper drops off the groceries, customers are changing that tip to a lesser amount or even to $0.
The ability to change the tip price up to three days after grocery drop-off is an option provided through the Instacart application.
According to Instacart, tip-baiting is rare. Customers either adjusted their tip upward or did not adjust tip at all on 99.5% of orders. The company also removed the “none” option in the customer tip section with hopes that customers will tip at minimum.
While these feature updates will likely have a positive impact, Instacart has still not banned customers from changing the tip after getting their groceries. The new roles will not be able to help shoppers with tip-baiting changes either, as the tip is entirely up to the customer.
The company has also not changed the default tip minimum, as worker protests asked for tip defaults to be put at 10% during this time.
The surge of hires for Instacart’s Care team was not related to the tip-baiting issue, says the company, but instead related to the surge of demand for the service.