Grocery delivery is a fun gig—unless customers do these annoying things.
I became a Shipt Shopper a few years ago to help me survive graduate school. After several months of driving for a rideshare service, I wanted a gig that better suited my low tolerance level for sitting still for long periods of time. Shipt fit that bill.
I’ve enjoyed my experience working for Shipt, including the customers I’ve dealt with on a daily basis. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about food, and I have a newfound appreciation for anyone who has ever been a contestant on the now-defunct television show Supermarket Sweep.
Yet in my time working for Shipt, I’ve also dealt with my fair share of downright puzzling customers. If you’ve ever used Shipt to have your groceries delivered, or if you’re thinking about signing up it, take these five frustrating tendencies to heart. (And please—go easy on your Shipt shopper!)
Ordering an item that doesn’t exist.
As a Shipt shopper, one of the most nerve-racking moments I’ve experienced is scanning the customer’s grocery list and seeing the “Special Orders” tab. Sometimes the customer requests something fairly basic, like a specific weight of sirloin steak. Other times, however, it’s something more obscure. Or, even worse, it’s an item that bewilders even the grocery store’s employees. One particular time, a customer wanted a fresh head of Romaine lettuce that was washed and chopped into a bag. I clarified with the customer, assuming they meant pre-chopped Romaine lettuce. But no—they specifically wanted a head of Romaine lettuce that was chopped in-store, then placed inside a bag. When I asked a store employee if this was even possible, they looked at me like I was insane.
Not answering texts.
If a certain item on a customer’s shopping list is out of stock, Shipt gives you the option of texting customers to make sure they’re okay with a substitute. I have lost count of the amount of times I have waited on a response from a customer to see if they will accept a different brand of milk (and trust me, I’ve spent plenty of time staring at milk cartons). In fact, my personal record without hearing from someone stands at 30 minutes. This is frustrating because I want to provide quality customer service, but I also often have multiple orders to deliver (read: I don’t have time to wait).
Adding vague items to a shopping list at the last minute.
I recently received a message from a customer who wanted to add six items (without brand or size specifics of course) to their order as I was checking out. “I’d like eggs, bacon, and biscuits.” Fantastic. What kind? Would you like me to buy the $7 eggs or the $2 eggs? Two dozen, one dozen, or a half-dozen? All-natural, no sulfite, uncured, just-off-the-pig bacon, or some that’s been stuffed in a freezer for three months? When I messaged the customer to find out their preferences, they never replied.
These distinctions matter for the customer’s satisfaction. I’m on the other end of a cell phone. I have no idea what is normally in your refrigerator. If I buy these items at will and if the customer is unhappy, I am on the hook for them being unspecific. This item also goes back to my previous point.
Not being at home for delivery.
I recently had two deliveries in the same hour. One was close, and the other was several miles away. I went to the closer drop-off first. Ding dong. No answer. After continuous knocking, phone calls, and about 10 minutes of standing around in the steaming sun, I finally received a message to just leave them outside on the porch. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m still 30 minutes away. Just leave them on the porch.” You want me to just leave $100 worth of groceries, half of which will be a melted mess when you get here? I ended up barely getting to the other house within the delivery window, but this entire scenario would have been avoided if the original customer left a simple note in the app letting me know of the chance they may not be at home.
For 95% of the orders I complete, I don’t expect any tip—and my primary goal is to ensure that customers receive their full, completed orders on time. Recently, I delivered three items to a house. This was an incredibly small order that was less than two miles round trip for me. The customer handed me a $10 bill. While this was an incredibly generous gesture, I felt that I had barely worked for the money. I graciously accepted the money, mostly because of the amount of times I’ve driven 20 miles away and hiked a quarter-mile up a hill in 95-degree with $200 of groceries to receive $0 in tip.
The bottom line: Over-communicate with your shopper (I promise, we don't mind), and if we do a good job, a tip is always appreciated.