A few weeks ago I updated my Instacart account to Instacart Express for 2 weeks of free trial. To give you some background. I was quarantining after my travel back home to Canada and I thought what better way to order food for my 14 days (2weeks) quarantine than use this trial for the duration. The ad for Instacart Express was pretty straight forward;
$0 Delivery Fee (on orders over $35)
Lower Service Fees (vs. non-member pricing)
Save $7 per order (average savings)
I looked at it and pretty much said why not, like every trial plan you go on, set a reminder on your calendar for the last day to cancel and you cancel on the day. So I thought I’m being smart and saving money like every other millennial that had to learn these little tricks to defeat the corporations and save money, while working a corporate job myself.
Only this time, my calendar trick didn’t work, being super jet lagged I slept through the day and missed this little reminder which later that evening I learnt had cost me $99 for an annual membership (vs. $9.99 a month), and for it to be annual, so you can’t really cancel it for another year, so looking at the bright side it technically cost me $8.25 a month, can I count this as a win? yeah, after the year we all had, I decided to stop the bickering and just go with it.
So I started ordering more online, and started making group carts with my parents so they can also use this “Express” feature I was now stuck with. Just like how I share my netflix subscription with them, they really thought I’m doing them a favour and took this opportunity as a gift. They did their first order and had a minor disappointment when they wanted organic chicken and it was out of stock. This led to a second order for them the following week and they had me on standby to chat on Instacart with the “shopper” who was doing the shopping for us that day, which I did and we had two whole organic chickens arriving at their door. I was quite satisfied by the outcome and started to like this new $99 arrangement and that evening I got a news notification on my phone; “Instacart doubles its valuation for the second time since pandemic began” and thought, good for them, it is a good app for this pandemic.
The day after, my parents came over to go for our walk, a new Covid ritual. When we started walking, my dad seemed upset and he asked me if we can discuss a technology matter. I was actually excited, for a 73 year old my dad knew his way around his smartphone and used multiple apps and market places, but he was still a baby boomer, so he preferred not to use his credit card on web and he checked everything multiple times if he did. So when it came to Instacart, I did him a favour by putting my credit card info and he would give me cash or e-transfer. He asked me the night before to give him the detailed receipt and as I knew how sensitive he was, I didn’t think of it and sent it to him. Our talk today would go back to that receipt and how every item on the receipt was around 1.13%-1.16% more than what my dad added to his. So I told him there might have been a sale that has ended now, hence the price difference, and the app is reliable as a calculator, defending the technology without even knowing why.
Later that night I couldn’t stop thinking about the price difference, so I started checking everything and adding every item we already bought again in the “Family Cart” that I was sharing with my parents. It was the same price as we paid, so I couldn’t figure out how my dad saw a different price. So I logged in to my dad’s Instacart account from my iPad and voila, there was the family cart except the total was $23.38 less than what I saw as an Instacart Express user. I was shocked and curious, I did a bit more digging. As an Express user I should have been saving, because of $0 delivery fees and lower service fees, so the the reverse didn’t make any sense. I thought to myself; this is a legit app, used by thousands of people, it can’t be making such mistakes or so I thought! I entered the address and continued to purchase page. There was still a $23.38 difference even with the delivery fee and service fee discount. This definitely felt like a betrayal, and one I didn’t see coming. When double checking I realized every item was in fact few dollars more expensive for an Express user. The receipt from my Express Account definitely didn’t match my dad's purchase list from his normal account.
Only us millennials can admire technology to the extend that we would even end up fooling ourselves that a tech corporation is doing an amazing job providing a much needed service at a “fair price”, when in reality they are miss-using our blind trust by hiding the fees. I hope this article can challenge our generation and generations after us to question the services we are provided and to always hold these companies accountable by putting aside time in our busy schedules to double check the charges, pricing and the payments we are inquiring on daily bases. We are always nagging how our generation has the biggest financial burdens of all time. When through our negligence and blind trust we are giving away our money little by little to these corporations, and the worst part is that they make us believe that we are saving! It would be interesting to see how many other millennials have caught up to these unethical schemes and hidden fees.