Monday, January 07, 2019

Online Shopping in General, InstaCart Specifically

Last year I did a post about online shopping. I also wrote another post that I thought I had published but... it was still there as a draft post when I was checking just now. Of course, the non-published post is the one that was most important. It was all about the perks and erks of the process. Oh well, I will recap the points I wanted to make in that post, then I will get on to reviewing the InstaCart experience.

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To recap the post that wasn't, I talked about the pros and cons of online shopping. Here are the highlights (and keep in mind that I am speaking from the viewpoint of someone who no longer drives.)
  • PROS - convenient during inclement weather; for people without transportation; for budgeting (no loitering and impulse shopping); and can be scheduled.
  • CONS - lost shipments are a hassle; broken items have to be returned; product descriptions might be deceptive, and there is a wait for delivery.
Overall, though, I prefer online shopping because it helps keep me on budget and - no car. Even though I have family that will jump through hoops to get me anywhere I might want to go, I hate having them out on winter roads any more than necessary. Keep in mind that I live in a tiny town in Iowa. Two things about that: winter and not a lot of nearby stores. The nearest Walmart is less than 10 miles away but it can be a rough 10 miles, depending on road conditions (and out-of-state idiot drivers using the highway). Also, if I am sick, there is no getting me onto a highway even for a short drive.

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So, yes, I am grateful for online shopping. For a long time, I was only using Amazon, Walmart, and ever now and again, Target I was even getting my contacts and some clothing via Costco until that membership fee became a problem. Even my prescriptions are delivered. Pretty sweet, right? And for the most part, I was set for most of the goods I needed. The one thing missing was perishables - meats and dairy. Then I discovered that Hyvee - via Aisles Online - delivers for a minimal fee for orders under $100 (and free for $100+ orders). Perfect except Hyvee can be a little pricey at times.

tracking it
Very recently, I noticed that if I used InstaCart I could order from Aldi. This was otherwise not an option because the store is not listed on the Aisles Online list. InstaCart, however, does list Hyvee (and oddly enough, Petco). I decided to give it a try since there were things I needed from both Hyvee and Aldi.

Since I absolutely want to get the best value, I was comparing prices from both Hyvee and Aldi for each item on my list. Aldi is basically cheaper for most things, especially produce. Then I ran into a problem trying to search for an item that I have ordered from Hyvee recently. It wasn't showing up when I searched via InstaCart.

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Just to make sure that I wasn't having a brain issue, I opened up Aisles Online in another tab and searched the item. It was there, like always. Hmm... I did searches for a couple more random things. Not everything that comes up in the Aisles came up in the Insta.

What I ended up doing was creating 2 carts - one for Hyvee via Aisles online and the other for Aldi in InstaCart. I don't have the time or the energy for frustrating myself.

About Delivery Fees & Other Charges

InstaCart has a cheaper delivery fee ($3.99) than Aisles Online ($4.95).

With InstaCart, customers can sign up for InstaCart Express for $99/yr and get all deliveries free, no matter how large or small the order. There is also a promotion where if you order $35 or more from certain retailers, your delivery could be free. That might be a great deal for me if there were more stores in the network in my zip code. I just don't see the value in the Express service when my choices are Aldi's, Hyvee, and Petco.

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My InstaCart basically included the following charges:
  • Checkout Bag Tax or Fee $0.42 (but those Aldi bags are awesome)
  • Delivery Fee $3.99
  • Tip $1.00 (you can choose the tip amount)
  • Service $2.75 (I guess this is for the shopper putting the order together)
I can't be mad a that "bag tax". Those Aldi bags are awesome and I will be re-using them for sure.

There were options for the Tip. You could select from set percentages or type in an amount. I felt that with all the other fees, a minimal tip was appropriate. However, because of the quality of service, I will tip more in the future. After all, I didn't have to get out and warm up a car, drive into town, shlep through the aisles, cart up and unload bags... Yeah. God bless that Tammi who did that shopping for me! I think she is covered by the service fee and the tip must be for the driver.

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Ordering from Hyvee is much more straightforward but kind of set. If you need to make changes to your order once it's been placed, you have to call the store. The fees are also right up front. You order and as soon as you pay, that amount is what is charged to your card. If something is not in stock, your card is refunded quickly. The service is also a bit more local-friendly. By that I mean your shopper sends handwritten cards and information. When I first moved used Hyvee I wanted to take advantage of the store's fuel/club card. My family could use the fuel points and I could use the coupons. Of course, I wasn't able to get to the store to pick up a card and my family was out of town. I simply mentioned this in the comment section of my next order. The shopper sent the fuel card inside a card with a kind note to always let her know if I needed anything else.

If you order $100 or more from Hyvee via Aisles Online, you get free delivery. Again, this would be great if I ever ordered that much. As it is, I don't think the delivery fee is too much. It's a bargain when you consider all the trouble I'd go through getting out in the weather and on the roads. Never mind on the days when I am sick.

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Now, just because I don't want to leave anything out, but I am really tired today, I am just going to list some little tidbits in no particular order.

  • InstaCart has a sweepstake every month. Entry is by taking a survey that is mailed after your shopping experience. I entered to win the $200 Visa Gift Card for this month. Fingers crossed!
  • InstaCart fine print mentioned that on my $63 purchase, my card would be authorized for $75 for up to 7 business days. However, when I checked, my card was only processed for the amount I spent. 
  • Depending on where you live, you will have more or less choice in stores to shop your InstaCart. I do advise that you double check the available items. Remember, my Aisle Online items that were not available via InstaCart. I didn't see any price differenced though when there were items available in both apps.
  • Don't limit yourself to InstaCart and Aisles Online. Keep in mind your location. I found both my delivery services by Googling for the ones available to my zip code (and I live in a tiny town 2 hours away from a major city). 
That's it and I hope that this helped someone. I personally don't know what I would do without these services.

By the way, I tried to do the "share" thing via social media to win referral money but the InstaCart page just kept glitching on me. If you do decide to use it, consider using the referral codes I'm posting all over this particular post. Please and thank you.