Storytime: Instacart (A Review)

… So when Niles calls me, to see if I’m up for a little gaming, I’m sliced in my office chair, 9 o’clock at night, with the lights off, seething, actual, angry, and trying to convince myself that I’m not as angry as I am.

It gets me out of that chair and up, two turn on some lights, turn on my computer, and roam into the kitchen to at last, to decide what I’m going too have for dinner now that spaghetti is off the menu.

Storytime, I guess?

I got up yesterday morning, Saturday, leisurely, casually to in fact, returning to my bed several times, to course s little more, sleep s little more, and just enjoy the feeling of laying around in bed, lolling, resting, until I felt like getting up. I didn’t have anything to do that day.

No overtime shift, no early morning pills, and no grocery shopping. I was getting my kitchen sticks replenished through Instacart.

Note: this is not a paid advertisement from Instacart – as you will see.

I have gotten lazier and lazier the past few weeks, and began to come around to the idea of getting my groceries delivered. Earlier this winter, at the beginning of December, I had flirted with the idea of delivery from Walmart. But, the retail giant doesn’t deliver in my neighborhood – I don’t know why – so I tabled the idea and kept hooping on the bus on weekends to get to Costco, or Walmart or a Sunfresh, or had things delivered through the mail.

The previous week, I had tried Whole Foods for the first time. I don’t know why I waited so long. It wasn’t the delivery fees or the store’s reputation. I was just avoiding it, procrastinating. I wills ay, Wole Foods is overpriced for what you get. It is definitely a designer business. You  pay more for the brand name. there is nothing bad about the product – everything looks fine, tastes fine – but it is overpriced for what you get. A good wholesaler like Costco is a better value.

My mother lives in Colorado and she has been relying on delivery for almost everything since the pandemic began. She started with Walmart, just to get the swing of it, then switched to Instacart. So, I had heard her talk about and two of my sisters, as well. They didn’t rave about it, but hey had no bad things to say, either. They did recommend it – suggested it is a better term – so, after more unexplainable hesitation on my part I decided to give it a try.

There was some intense psychological struggle between Costco and Aldi. I filled my cart in one store, then emptied it and filled a cart in the other store – over and over again, three or four times. I wanted a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, see. I had been craving it since the weekend before, suddenly, out of nowhere, the need just sprang up. Costco had a huge box for less than ten dollars; Aldi had a generic alternate brand. Both had lactose-free milk, but Aldi was cheaper, and the penny-conscious part of me said I needed to save a few cents wherever I could, so I went with Aldi.

I didn’t order much: fresh veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and the like), two pounds of ground beef, frosted flakes, lactose-free milk, strawberry-flavored sparkling water (it feels like I’m the only one, but I can barely taste LaCroix sparkling water), orange juice, sliced turkey, and an off-brand coffee creamer. I ordered a white wire basket that fits under the cabinet and a box of Multigrain Cheerios. I am still living healthier, and trying to do a little more every-… You know what? I was feeling nostalgic for the cereals of my youth and tried to toss a little nutrition into the mix by getting the multi grain version instead of the Honey Nut Cheerios, which I should have gotten.

I digress.

The whole mess was under $50 but over $35; I had to spend at least that much to get free delivery. Maybe things would have turned out differently if I had requested delivery within two hours, but I chose the other option, “Deliver Within 5 Hours” – which meant the delivery would be no later than5 pm. in my case – and settled in to surf the internet, play Bloons, and wait.

I put my phone number in the delivery instructions and told the driver – Daniel, who was also my shopper – to call when he arrived, and I would come meet him outside.

I had splurged – again – earlier in the week and bought a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M20x headphones (wired) and I was marveling at how well they picked up small background sounds in music that I had never known where there, and getting my mouth set for the spaghetti and meatballs I was going to cook that night with the ground beef, Mama’s Special Garden Sauce, my favorite pasta sauce, and some whole wheat penne (if I could talk myself out of using regular pasta), while playing Angry Birds 2, when I got a text message notification on my phone.

It was Daniel. “I have delivered your order.” and a photo of a box of groceries in front of a black door. What?!

It was 4:11 pm. I still had my shoes off. I was waiting for a phone call from Daniel and, yes, I should have been ready, already, but I wasn’t. I threw on a zip-up jacket from the university and ran downstairs, three floors, with my shoes untied. What was Daniel thinking? I told him to call me when he arrived. And it didn’t look like my door. I almost leaped down the last flight of stairs, terrified of missing him, of not knowing where he had left the groceries of someone else getting them.

And flung open the door of the apartment building. No Daniel in sight. I made sure I had my key, then rushed outside, rushed to the street, hoping to see a moving vehicle, and moving figure who looked like Daniel, but there was no one. Nothing.

No groceries.

I coduln’t beleiove it. No groceries.

I thought for one moment about walking around the building and finding the box myself, if he had left it at the right building, at least. Anyone could be watching from any apartment door. If they saw me walking up to the door of a building they knew I didn’t live in, and walking away with a box of groceries, there would be trouble.

No groceries. No Daniel.

I tired to call him, to get him to come back, show me where he left he groceries, but he had contacted me through the messaging service on the app. I had no way to contact him.

I rushed back into the building back upstairs. And called Instacart customer service, trying desperately to fix my problem through quick, decisive action, and I couldn’t believe it. I have had meals delivered maybe ten times now. Drivers have gotten almost lost, or parked at the wrong building, but they had never left my food on someone else’s steps and drive off.

Customer service expressed their concerns of course and tried to contact Daniel. As I waited, I noticed that the door in the photograph looked like the door to my apartment building. I wandered downstairs, not liking what I might find, and yes, it was the same door. The same porch really, with the same concrete showing where the gray had chipped away. Daniel had delivered it to the right building. And left.

But, I had rushed downstairs after I got the text. It couldn’t taken me three minutes. Customer service returned and transferred me to the refund desk. She also gave me a $10 credit on my next order.

I checked the app while I waited. Time of the message from Daniel: 4:11 pm. Time the order was delivered: 3:32pm.

The woman at the refund desk was polite and helpful. She also gave me a full month of Instacart Premium, free.

39 minutes. Daniel delivered my order, then messaged me 39 minutes later. And someone saw the box and walked off with it, not as worried about watching neighbors as I was. 39 minutes. And it could be someone in the same building as me – just picked it up, casually, as they walked in, or out.

What took so long? He probably forgot to notify me, then remembered later, and hoped he wasn’t too late.

I got my refund. No harm, no foul. I had to call to get it, so the bad report against Daniel is already filed. I did give him my number and told him to call me. But, I was still angry after it was all over, after $20, not $10 was credited to my Instacart account, angry enough to think about closing my account and letting them keep their money. My first order.

Still angry when Niles called me at 9 that night, and I was sitting in the dark, still trying to let it go and make something for dinner.

1 comment

  1. Oh man, bad luck! I have always got my grocerys, but often some orderings have been changed to another. Usually because of the product has been out of stock. Last time instead of two ordered yogurt, I got only one. Some candies were changed too and cheese. I was waited a special cheese (with special price). Well, it was also out of stock. I was quite annoyed…but atleast I got food!

    Liked by 1 person

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