3 Ways to Protect Yourself as an Instacart Shopper

As Instacart shoppers, there’s nothing worse than hearing that a customer received a damaged order, missing items – or no order at all – when you know you delivered it correctly! When this happens, don’t get worried – get proactive! RSG contributor Tyler Philbrook shares his strategies to handle issues like these, plus preventing them in the first place.

My wife and I have been doing Instacart for a while now, and we’ve found that occasionally customers say things like “I didn’t receive my order”, “My order was damaged”, or “I’m missing things from my order.”

While this isn’t our main source of income, we still don’t like hearing something’s gone wrong with a delivery we made! Even if it’s “just” a side gig, you still want to do your best, and hate to feel like you did something wrong.

Here are the best practices we’ve found to ensure that you take care of the customer, while protecting yourself from bad ratings, and preventing situations like this from happening in the future.

Quick Summary:

  • Be diligent about taking a picture at drop off
  • Go the extra mile to keep food fresh in an insulated bag
  • Keep multiple orders separated with a trunk divider

1) Take a Picture

Whether it’s a leave-at-the-door order or you’re instructed to meet the customer, always take a picture to prove you dropped off the entire order.

Yes, Instacart has you take pictures in the app, but it pays to have a picture of proof of your own with a timestamp of the date and time you delivered the order, just in case you need to reference it later.

Sometimes people have unscrupulous neighbors, or a customer can’t find where you placed their order and marks it as ‘not delivered.’ Unfortunately, the neighbor or drive-by thief issue could be more commonplace during the holidays, when more people are ordering not only grocery deliveries but also package deliveries, and thieves can swipe both at the same time.

As an Instacart shopper, you have to do your best but obviously you can’t prevent the worst from happening! It’s better to be safe and have a picture than be sorry without proof.

Having a photo and a timestamp will help dismiss any claims against you and help alleviate risk of deactivation.

My wife has personally had someone say they didn’t get their order, and she got a message the next morning saying she was at risk for being deactivated.

Instacart’s customer service was a huge help. She called them and sent photo proof that she did in fact deliver that order. Customer service was able to quickly fix the issue on her end so she was no longer at risk for being deactivated and thanked her for taking that extra step.

2) Use an Insulated Bag

I have found when doing my shopping and using my insulated bag (I like this one, but this is a good option too!), it ensures the cold items will remain cold and won’t be considered “damaged” by the customer.

I figure if I was shopping for myself, I would want to keep my ice cream from melting, or my milk from spoiling, so why wouldn’t I do the same for the customer?

Also, being more choosy when picking produce and keeping them in an insulated container keeps them fresh and has derailed anyone saying things are damaged.

Be careful when packing produce as well. Some fruits and vegetables easily bruise and can go from looking great to being damaged quickly.

I have also found if I take just a few more minutes and ask an associate to help me get a nicer looking item from the back, the customers tend to really appreciate it.

3) Separate Orders

When doing multiple orders, it can get confusing when you’ve got 3 orders—A, B and C.

I have found using a different type of bag for one vs the other has helped. Also, when you’re done shopping, I recommend putting one order in the trunk and the other in the backseat to ensure no one gets one of the bags from the other order by mistake.

I have used adivider for my trunk to keep multiple orders separated.

When it comes to shopping for more than one order, I recommend using separate carts, baskets or bags per order and make sure when loading it onto the checkout you don’t mix up A, B, or C, as well.

What works best for me may not work best for you. Some shoppers have found that they have actual cards with A, B, and C so they know where to put everything. You need this because A is not always the largest order, sometimes A has just a few things whereas B, or C are the largest and so need the most room.

I personally have found it helpful when doing multiple orders to check them off in my mind when loading it up on the checkout: Order A has this, Order B has this and so on.


Even when we take all the precautions and do our very best, we are still going to make mistakes.

When mistakes happen, it’s not the end of the world, but as soon as you recognize the mistake was made, reach out to support. Whether that’s via messenger or phone call, it’s an important step to take.

Learn more about how to contact Instacart support at our comprehensive Instacart Shopper Pay article.

Support has helped me multiple times with various issues. It’s what they are there for. When you let them know the issue as soon as possible, it helps your rating and keeps your profile safe.

However, if you do your due diligence by taking photos at the drop off, using an insulated bag for cold goods and produce, and keep yourself organized when doing multiple orders, you’ll be more likely to be a successful Instacart shopper. It could also keep your need for support to a minimum and keep your customers happy with your service.

How do you protect yourself as an Instacart shopper? What tips do you have for others? Share below!

-Tyler @ RSG