A TikToker discussing low Instacart pay
TikTok | @bjshoty

Instacart Shopper Sparks Debate For Refusing 222-Item Order That Paid $15

In today's gig economy, should workers feel compelled to complete a job when the payout is ridiculously low?

Some will say that that's what gig workers signed up for: an inconsistent, unreliable income stream in exchange for flexibility. And so, an Instacart shopper has sparked a debate online after refusing to complete a massive order for little pay and no tip.

Instacart is a handy service.

Instacart logo
Wikimedia Commons | SANDRA J. PENNECKE

It ties right into the gig economy: rather than doing your own grocery shopping, you can pay someone to do it for you. Submit your order, pay a fee, and (hopefully) give the shopper a reasonable tip.

Shoppers are paid by the job, but also rely on tips.

A grocery shopper
Unsplash | Boxed Water Is Better

Much like most delivery services, Instacart pays the person doing the job, but doesn't pay them much. The customer is encouraged to tip, but of course, tipping isn't strictly required. This means that shoppers can wind up with very little pay if they deal with stingy customers.

An Instacart shopper had to vent after a low-paying job.

A TikToker describes low Instacart pay
TikTok | @bjshoty

@bjshoty, a TikToker who moonlights as an Instacart shopper, recently shared a short video summing up a pitifully low-paying order that he ultimately decided to refuse.

It would have paid $15.42 for a 222-item order.

Coins spilling from a jar
Unsplash | Josh Appel

This is the pay that @bjshoty would receive from Instacart. Normally, the overall payout is better, but that's because most customers tip. If a customer decides not to tip, the Instacart shopper takes a big hit.

"Can we admit that this is unacceptable?"

A grocery store aisle
Unsplash | Franki Chamaki

"I know those non-tippers or the people who get mad at us bitching about tipping is going to say something," he said. "This is out of line. Y'all have to admit this is out of line. This is crazy."

$15.42 really isn't worth it.

Comments from a TikTok video about low Instacart pay
TikTok | @bjshoty

In the comments, @bjshoty says it would take at least two hours to pick out those 222 items. That would make his payout $7.71 an hour.

As many commenters pointed out, it's kind of shocking that Instacart pays its shoppers such low rates and relies on customers to subsidize the rest through tips.

What would be fair?

Gif: "he makes some good points"
Giphy | Late Night with Seth Meyers

In a comment, @bjshoty explained what he thought a fair payout would be.

"This is not just on the customer, it's on Instacart as well," he wrote. "Base pay for an order with this many items should be $50+ ... that would at least make it $25 an hour and then a customer tip being between $15-$30 depending on the quality of service."

Can you blame him for not taking the order?

A shopping cart in a grocery store
Unsplash | Eduardo Soares

As independent contractors, Instacart shoppers are not obligated to take on jobs that they don't want to. With such a low payout, it's really hard to fault @bjshoty for deciding that it just wasn't worth the time, effort or, most importantly, the pay.

What do you think?

This ties into a larger discussion surrounding tipping culture, where employers incentivize tipping because it ultimately means they can pay less in base wages.

What did you think of this TikTok? Do you have any tipping horror stories? We want to hear them, so make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!