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She never got her Instacart groceries but Food Lion stepped up and now she’s paying it forward

Ashley Smith says she turned to Instacart because she wants to limit her public outings during the coronavirus pandemic.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem mom Ashley Smith said Instacart delivery service failed to deliver.

"It showed that our order was delivered and had a photo of our groceries literally sitting on what looked like the side of the road," Smith said.

Her Instacart order said 'complete' and 'delivered to doorstep as requested by customer,' but the picture of groceries sitting in grass on the side of the road painted a different story. 

"I piled my children in the car and we drove up and down our main neighborhood street. We drove down a couple side roads thinking, 'Maybe she did get the address wrong and it's in someone's yard,' but we never saw anything," Smith said.

Credit: Ashley Smith

The groceries apparently left in the grass somewhere and $185 dollars down the drain.

"It's sad that this happened and shocking that you're charged $185 dollars for something you never even received."

Smith tried calling customer service.

"At this point Instacart has not been responsive. We tried to do messaging and no response. I posted on Facebook and no response. I tried to call the number and it hangs up on you because they’ve disabled it."

After reading many reviews that point to the same problem, WFMY News 2's Jess Winters tried reaching out as well. The customer service line said, "Phone support is not currently available."

Winters reached out to the press email. Instacart did not answer her questions about Smith's case or a potential refund. Representatives also did not indicate what the best method to get in touch with customer service is.

Winters received a lot of information on Instacarts orders, which have seen an astronomical jump since the pandemic:

  • Instacart is seeing the highest customer demand in Instacart history and have more active shoppers on our platform today than ever before picking and delivering groceries for millions of consumers. 

  • The order volume has grown more than 150 percent over the last several weeks.

  • Instacart is also seeing a significant number of new customers use the app, with daily Instacart app downloads surging by seven times on the Apple app store over the last week. 

  • With the purchase of more bulk items, busier stores overall, reduced store hours, and longer check-out lines, Instacart is leaning on the flexibility of our dynamic delivery model to meet the needs of our customers. 

  • Based on the current surge in demand, customers can expect to see delivery availability vary across stores during the busiest request windows. Delivery windows are specific to individual store volume and shopper availability. As availability opens up for an individual store, customers will see these delivery windows become available on the Instacart marketplace. 

  • As announced in March, Instacart is bringing on 300,000 new full-service shoppers over the next three months given the increased consumer demand we’ve seen for grocery delivery and pickup in the U.S. and Canada. 

  • In the last week alone since this announcement, 250,000 new people signed up to become Instacart full-service shoppers and 50,000 of them have already started shopping on the platform. 

  • Separately from shoppers, Instacart is also actively hiring and scaling up our Instacart Care team to meet the increased customer demand and growth we’re seeing.

  • Instacart is implementing pre-opening and post-closing hours access for Instacart shoppers in partnership with retailers to promote effective social distancing and meet customer demand at some of the busiest stores. 

  • Extending the “Order Ahead” offerings and will soon be allowing customers to place orders farther ahead of time — as much as up to two weeks in advance. For those looking to restock on staples, this is another way to give customers ways to build their digital cart well ahead of time.  


Tips for customers who may be new to Instacart or relying on the service more than ever for their grocery needs: 

  1. Check delivery times frequently. Due to heightened customer demand, available delivery windows may fluctuate throughout the day. Instacart teams are working around the clock to ensure availability, and we encourage customers to check available delivery times frequently in the app.

  1. Choose preferred replacements & be available for shopper questions. During this busy time, retailers are experiencing elevated demand for certain items. Help your shopper get what you need by remaining flexible and choosing replacement options for everything on your list. While your shopper is shopping your order, be ready to respond to questions she or he may have about replacement options by using our in-app chat functionality.   

  1. Plan ahead. Take frequent inventory of your fresh foods, pantry staples and household essentials, and place your orders in advance of running out of key essentials.

  1. Send groceries to a loved one. As an Instacart customer, you can send groceries to friends or family members, even if they’re across the country. It’s easy to give the gift of groceries to someone else — simply input their zip code, choose their local store, fill up your cart with the items they need, place and pay for their order to be delivered to their home. You can even track replacements, chat with their shopper directly from the store, and help notify them when their groceries have arrived. If you think your recipient would prefer to manage their own order, you can also send them a virtual Instacart gift card here

  1. Use a group cart. With Instacart’s group carts, you can invite a friend or loved one to join your cart, work together to add the items they need, and ship them directly to their preferred address. Families in the same household can make sure everyone orders the items they want, or you can help a relative in another state add all the items they need and navigate the checkout and delivery process for them. It’s a great way to help someone with their grocery order, no matter how far away they are. You can create a new group cart by clicking “My Carts” in the upper right corner of your Instacart account→ “My Carts” → “Create a group cart.”

  1. Share the how-to video with friends & family. Grocery delivery can be a much-needed help especially during this time, and we want to make it as easy as possible for new customers to learn how to use Instacart. We developed a how-to video to make it easy for anyone to learn how to use Instacart to buy their groceries and schedule their delivery. Feel free to share this video with a family member, colleague, grandparent, or friend.

  1. Say thank you to your shopper. Over the last few weeks, the Instacart shopper community has served as household heroes for families nationwide. When you order, please consider tipping above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper. 

Smith said Food Lion offered to pay for her missing groceries but her family said they instead want to donate the money.

Smith said they donated the gift card they received from Food Lion to Hope Truck Food Co. because the truck has been giving away meals across the Piedmont Triad.

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