Here's what it's like to be an Instacart shopper

Instacart shoppers share their experiences working for the grocery pick-up and delivery service during the coronavirus pandemic.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The coronavirus pandemic has left millions of Californians unemployed, but one company is hiring thousands of new employees.

Following a surge of online grocery orders, the pick-up and delivery service Instacart has more than doubled its workforce over the last two months with plans to hire even more.

"It's like a scavenger hunt," said Mike Rezendes, creator of the YouTube page 'Reezy Resells.' "It's as close as I'm ever going to get to being on 'Supermarket Sweep.'"

Over the last five years, Rezendes has been producing content for his YouTube channel that focuses on making money through nontraditional methods, such as reselling books on Amazon or clothes on Etsy.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Aptos local signed up to shop for Instacart.

"I would say that most people can probably make at least $20 an hour doing it," Rezendes said. "If you live in a really good area, you can make around $50 an hour."

In Long Beach, Jisel Ayon signed up to pick up and deliver groceries via Instacart in early April.

"I count myself pretty lucky because I have actually done really well through the app," Ayon said.

Ayon graduated with a BA in Theater Arts in December 2019 from Cal State Fullerton. She was cast in several live productions in the coming months, but the coronavirus pandemic put those gigs on hold.

"When I started, they told us that it typically takes about four days for the background check to clear for you to start shopping," she said. "It took them an hour to clear my background check and get me out there."

Ayon and Rezendes were two of the 300,000 new shoppers that Instacart hired amid the pandemic to cope with the surge of online grocery orders. Both shoppers fear that the increase in gig workers has resulted in limited orders.

"Now, I have to sit with my phone open and refresh it for almost 15 to 20 minutes for me to even find one order," Ayon said.

Instacart told ABC7 that the platform hired 300,000 new shoppers in North America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced in April that they have plans to hire another 250,000.

"The biggest tip that I can give people is to work early in the morning, specifically between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.," Rezendes said.

The YouTube personality also mentioned that there are more opportunities to make money for shoppers on Sundays and Mondays.

Some Instacart shoppers have complained of "tip baiting," which is when a customer enters a large tip in order to lure the shopper in to take their order but then changes the tip to a lower amount once the items are delivered.

"The customer has the ability to adjust the tip for up to three days," Rezendes said. "For the most part, that hasn't been my experience."

For a list of companies, including Instacart, that are hiring in Southern California amid the coronavirus economic slowdown, visit ABC7's resource page.

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