It was a dark and stormy night. 

Well, it was dark and snowy, at least.

Earlier in the week, I had created an online order for groceries from Aldi, to be delivered by an Instacart shopper on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.

We had one car at the mechanic that day, so my wife had to wait at the school for me to pick her up.

We both had worked later that day — Thursday is The Packer’s press day — so the seemingly safe scheduled delivery time of 7 p.m. was in jeopardy.

While I was driving home during what would be Kansas City’s first measurable snowfall this year, I received notice by text that Sheryl, our Instacart personal shopper, was at the store, presumably thrilled to fill our order. I worried that she would beat us home.

It was the first time we had ordered groceries online, click-creating our shopping list of items on the Instacart website that would be magically delivered to our doorstep. I was somehow screwing it up by being late.

Sheryl first texted me. “Hi Tom, this is Sheryl your Instacart shopper. I am at your home and have rang the bell. Are you home?” 

Before I could respond, she called me. I explained we were nearly to the house but not to wait. Just leave the groceries on the front porch, I advised. As we were pulling into the driveway, Sheryl was pulling out, and we exchanged friendly waves. 

It was Sheryl who went to Aldi that snowy night for us, picking up milk, bread, apples, oranges, potatoes, eggs, and other staples. She put the food in paper sacks from Aldi and brought the order to our house.

Was it worth it? Instacart prices for Aldi items seemed a touch higher than in-store prices, though I couldn’t swear to it.

For a $43 order, The delivery charge was $5.99, plus a prescribed $2.11 tip and $2.11 service charge.
How was the produce, you might ask? Well, I have to say it was pretty good.

The new crop galas were tasty, the oranges tasted like navel oranges should and the 10-pound bag of russets contained sound potatoes even if some of them were strikingly oddly shaped.

Who was this “personal shopper” that braved the elements to shop our list of items at Aldi on a snowy night? Sheryl, you were worth every cent of that $5.99 delivery charge, $2.11 tip and $2.11 service fee — and then some. You saved us the hassle of parking in a forlorn parking lot, traipsing through the snow, finding a grocery cart and roaming the aisles, going through checkout, putting the grocery bags in the car and driving home.

Even without the dark and snowy night, the convenience of a personal shopper is a luxury that this Aldi shopper might indulge again.

Submitted by Concerned Kansas Citian on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 02:57

Nice write-up. For the record, your full service shopper, Sheryl (or anyone else that might get your next order), does not receive the delivery fee nor the service fee. For that order, she probably didn't make even $10, including your 5% tip, and had to pay for her own gas and other vehicle expenses. The service is great and the local shoppers (including myself) love the work we do. Instacart has slashed our pay, though, so we rely on tips just like a waiter or waitress does. Please keep that in mind when choosing the tip for your next full service shopper that saves you from going out in the snow after work to do your own shopping. Would you tip your waitress 5%?

Submitted by Jill on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 07:24

Hey Tom!

Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm a Shopper as well, and many of us do take great pride in what we do.

I'm sure you didn't realize as shoppers we don't receive those other fees. And so perhaps you didn't realize what we do is like a server at a restaurant. But one that uses their own car and gas to deliver to you.

Good shoppers take time to select the best of the produce, check expiration dates, and communicate with you on any issues. And then of course bring it to you. A bit more work than your local pizza delivery guy, whom I think you would surely give more than a 2 dollars tip to for driving through bad weather.

Anyway, I am happy you appreciated the service, and a big thumbs up to Sheryl!

Perhaps the biggest tip you could share is with friends and family on how to be sure to take care of personal shopper.

It's always good too to go back and rate on the app a 5 star as it also helps your service professional.

Submitted by Christina on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:44

Absolutely! Thank you, Tom, for the nice comments you made about the effort Sheryl put in for you. But for all the work we Shoppers do, Instacart is making it so we MUST rely on customer tips to earn a decent wage - after covering gas and wear & tear on our vehicles and our bodies.

Submitted by Christina on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:44

Absolutely! Thank you, Tom, for the nice comments you made about the effort Sheryl put in for you. But for all the work we Shoppers do, Instacart is making it so we MUST rely on customer tips to earn a decent wage - after covering gas and wear & tear on our vehicles and our bodies.

Submitted by Kate on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:21

A dark and snowy night was only worth a $2.11 tip? I hope Sheryl put you on her do not deliver list.

Submitted by Alicia on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:41

So u just praised your shopper and admitted that it saved u a lot of hassle but u only tipped $2? This is not good. The shopper left her house to go out in the snow for u and probably left her kids (in my case) and used her own gas to go shop for u and u literally left a $2 tip. Restaurant prices are even more expensive than what u would get in a store because they cook it for u and that’s why instacart prices are raised because someone brings it for u. So when u are eating at a restaurant do u think the inflation difference and special tax (depending on state) goes to your server? No. Just like instacart, the shopper doesn’t get all that. Shoppers solely work for tips just like servers do. Would u leave a server a $2 tip on a $43 tab???? Did a server drive to get your food and go raving down isles in a store with their own gas? No. So why leave a shopper only $2. I’m probably being a broken record because u would still probably continue to be a crappy tipper no matter what I say.

Submitted by Apoorva Mehta on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 13:11

You tipped a measly $2? Wow don’t be too generous now.

Submitted by Rusty Red on Wed, 11/14/2018 - 16:52

Agreed we don’t get paid the fee we get about $5 an hour and that’s it and you think $2 is a decent tip??? You must need it more than me. I’ll put you on my do not deliver to this customer anymore list, by the way I do keep track of CRAP CUSTOMERS and you are one of those customers. Nice that you acknowledged that shopper but hope you read the comments about how she was paid.

In reply to by Apoorva Mehta (not verified)

Submitted by MsRendrag on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 15:34

The Service Fee and Delivery Fee DO NOT get paid directly to the person who Shops and Delivers your order. This is a common misconception. PLEASE recant this in your article. I know "journalism" isn't what it used to be, but you should at least be held accountable for spreading a lie that harms the income of the people who do this work.

It seems you truly appreciated the convenience of the service. Customers who appreciate us make our job a little easier to bear. However, being undervalued when it comes to tipping is getting out of hand.

If Customers continue to think that a 5% tip is appropriate most of the people who are actually good at this job will be gone. Stop for one minute and think about the kind of Delivery experience you will have when the only people left willing to do the Shopper's job are people whose self-worth is less than the price of a bunch of bananas.

Submitted by Rusty Red on Wed, 11/14/2018 - 16:55

I’m one of them...gone. Won’t lug two cases of water, a big package of soda, pelligrinies, Capri suns and Gatorade for $10.

In reply to by MsRendrag (not verified)

Submitted by Five year shopper on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 18:39

$2 tip? In that weather? Gross.

Submitted by Carol on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 22:19

$2.11 tip???? Seriously, Sheryl shopped and brought you produce that was great (even though she had no control over how those apples tasted) and delivered on a dark and snowy night, and you felt that effort was just worth $2.11? She used her own car, own gas, time and effort, communicated well and delivered with a smile, and it was only worth $2.11. Next time you go out to dinner, and run up a $100 tab, tip you server $2. Watch their reaction and keep in mind they were not burning up their own gas, using their own car and probably
not spending an hour exclusively on you. 15-20% is a fair tip for good service

Submitted by Tom on Tue, 01/29/2019 - 13:37

Ahhh, all the convenience of a personal shopper and they don't even have to be paid minimum wage! What a country!

Submitted by Shrike on Tue, 02/05/2019 - 21:24

First off let me apologize for those chastising you. As a full service shopper I understand their frustration. The truth is that they are technically right, but that reaction is because of the massive slashes in pay tat instacart has made. Had they not done this I believe many shoppers would not need to worry about the one customer who tipped light. And that's the truth of it. I Kno that they know full well how many o us are now putting 50-75%of out take home back into our vehicle. And when take home in 90% of the time is really about $10 N hour ( that's. Whole nother topic. Don't believe the $25/hr it was never that high and it's only true at one instance of time because when the driver has to drive back to the busy store their avg pAy is already going down from there. BTW no they don't pay fo return driving the miles they do pay I honesty about 1/3 of your total work miles because of finance to work distance back to stores etc). I have see them put big bonuses up to brin driver's back but then they cut them again. Ad a high turnover rate like they are doing will eventually leave them with such a bad reputation tat nobody new will wen ty I because of word o mouth. I'm having a rathe good time only picking up tao shifts in a month to avoid a losing scenario. They gotta learn somehow.

Submitted by Michael Mandaville on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 00:36

I live in the country, and I am temporarily without transportation, and so for me, Instacart is a godsend. I never tip in the application, I always tip the driver with cash (my most recent driver was also the in-store-shopper) and I always tip twenty per-cent of the food total (before the service charges are added). The driver's always thank me for the tip, and I always give them a five-star rating. I get consistently good service.