Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, having your groceries delivered was convenient for busy adults. Now, in early 2020, it is socially responsible. Grocery delivery services have been hard at work for some time, but with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and various stay-at-home orders, the demand for these services has skyrocketed.
As two of the biggest names in grocery delivery, we were curious how Postmates and Instacart were rising to the challenge. How are these two grocery delivery companies responding to COVID-19? How are they treating customers during this time? And what sort of savings and offers do they offer?
We have had an explosion of new Instacart and Postmates reviews here on PissedConsumer. To help our readers compare the two companies, we dug through the updated company websites and the Postmates and Instacart reviews. Our updated analysis of Instacart vs Postmates is based on several factors including:
- What are Instacart and Postmates?
- Companies' response to COVID-19
- Customer service experience
- Instacart vs Postmates delivery service
- Discounts and specials
- Refund policy
- Cancellation policy
What Are Instacart and Postmates?
Both companies offer a food delivery service through websites or apps. In the Instacart vs Postmates discussion, it’s important to learn how the two companies operate.
What is Instacart?
According to the Instacart website, the company will “connect you with Personal Shoppers in your area to shop and deliver groceries from your favorite stores.” They share a comprehensive online selection from local grocery stores.
Once a customer loads up a virtual cart and orders, an Instacart shopper will go to the store and fill a real basket based on what is actually on store shelves. Your order is then delivered as soon as possible.
Is Instacart Free?
Being able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered is a hugely convenient service, especially during COVID-19. But are there Instacart free delivery offers?
Instacart customer service makes you dig a bit to find the answer to how much it costs. There is no page with fee information in the Instacart customer service section.
According to the Instacart Express advertisement, there is a base $3.99 fee for grocery delivery with a higher fee for rush times or hours. You can avoid paying the individual delivery fees by joining the service which offers free unlimited delivery on $35 purchases.
To join Instacart Express, you can pay $99 annually or $9.99 per month.
While not free in the traditional sense of the word, this program may offer some customers savings. There is also a spot at checkout to add an Instacart promo code. The Specials tab offered grocery store special offers but there was no Instacart promo code offered on the screen and no savings on delivery.
You might receive an Instacart promo code for free delivery in other means, but none are currently advertised on the website.
What is Postmates?
So how does Postmates vs Instacart break down? Postmates offers a wider range of food as well as grocery delivery. With the company, you can order from local restaurants for take-out and delivery. You can also order groceries to be delivered in a way similar to Instacart.
Wondering how to use Postmates? According to the company’s home page, it delivers “more than dinner” by offering delivery “within an hour” of a variety of goods as well as food items from grocery stores and restaurants.
When looking at the Postmates vs Instacart breakdown, one company specializes in groceries, the other seems to offer just about everything else.
Is Postmates free?
As you are looking at Instacart vs Postmates, you might be swayed by price and special offers like free delivery or introductory offers. Postmates delivery is not free, much like Instacart is not free. Ordering a single meal from a local restaurant requires a $5.99 delivery fee. Grocery delivery created a $9.99 fee when items were added to the virtual cart.
Postmates customer service does advertise the fees required for delivery. There is not a single page of fee information provided by the Postmates customer service. In fact, you have to enter contact information before the fees even appear in your online cart.
There is a promotion listed for Postmates Unlimited which advertises free shipping The delivery costs $9.99 per month or $99 for the year, which keeps it in line with the same pricing Instacart offers.
According to, you qualify for free delivery on orders over $12 by signing up for it. There is a special offer to try free for the first month. You do not have to enter a Postmates promo code to start the free trial, but you will be charged $9.99 per month if you do not cancel the free trial before the promotion ends.
Instacart and Postmates' Response to COVID-19
Both Instacart and Postmates have published pages specifically outlining how the two companies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instacart offers a variety of responses to concerns brought on by COVID-19. Among the suggestions offered on the company response page, it now offers a “leave at my door” option for delivery.
Instacart also encourages customers to “say thank you to your shopper” by including a tip that goes is “above and beyond to reflect the extra effort of your shopper during this busy time.”
Finally, the company has added features to the website that will automatically limit your choices on certain products with particular retailers to abide by store limits. Additionally, you can choose replacement items for things that may be out of stock, and Instacart “continuously updates availability” so that you know when things are in or out of stock.
Postmates customer service has also published a page detailing the company’s response to COVID-19.
Most of the information on the page outlines the company’s response to the medical needs of employees and to reassure customers that food service companies are following the CDC recommendations for food preparation.
There is a section of the Postmates response page that includes new initiatives being offered to better support customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the page, there is a new Non-Contact Delivery service offered.
It also states they are offering “reduced delivery fees” to make “on-demand delivery more accessible during this challenging time.”
At the time of writing in April 2020, fees automatically added to the Postmates cart through the company website still ranged from $5.99 to $9.99.
Instacart vs Postmates Customer Service Experience
The best way to find out more about a company is to dig through the Postmates and Instacart reviews. They offer customer insight, real experiences, interaction with the Postmates and Instacart customer service team.
Postmates and Instacart reviews as well as the company websites revealed basic information about Postmates and Instacart customer service. Based on the data provided in the Instacart reviews on the Pissed Consumer website the company has earned 1.7 stars. Instacart customer service does interact with customers through our platform, and 13 issues have been publicly resolved.
The influx of new customers is causing new frustrated reviews about Instacart. A poster explained that he had been “overcharged on a Drink item by $50.” in an Instacart review #1849050.
Despite chatting in real-time with the shopper, the shopper “refused to change the order and delivered 1 pack of 24 drinks but charged us for 4 packs of 24 drinks.”
The frustrated customer called “InstaCart to reconcile the bill.” He explained, “What a joke ... over 2-hour delay and then cut off. Did this InstaCart employee leave the store with 3 packs of 24 Drinks that I paid for? We called the police to investigate.”
How to Contact Instacart
If you need to contact Instacart, you may be delayed in speaking with an Instacart customer service representative. The company is “currently experiencing very high chat and call volumes, resulting in unusually long wait times.” They do reassure customers that they are “working as quickly as possible to respond.”
Despite the message warning about delayed response times, there is not a clear phone number or chat feature to get in touch with Instacart. That information is not clearly available in the Help menus and cannot be searched. According to the Terms and Conditions, you can reach out to the company via email at email@example.com.
You can contact Instacart customer service by calling the Instacart phone number at (888) 246-7822. Or you can call the Community Operations team at 1-888-246-7822.
The Postmates reviews on PissedConsumer.com left the company with a 1.5 rating. There is a flood of new complaints from customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Postmates review #1847260 on PissedConsumer, a frustrated customer feels he is “constantly charged or over charges for items I am not receiving.”
“Today I was charged $21 for an order than was never delivered to me the postmate lied and said he delivered it and I never received it this is not fair to me at all Ive spent 100s and 100s of dollars using Postmates and now I feel like Im being scammed out of my money.”
After being “on the phone with a representative who told me if I still dont recieve my order to contact support” he posted on our website in hopes of getting help with a refund.
How to Contact Postmates
Postmates does not publish a phone number for customer service in its Contact Us section. Instead, there is a series of prompts and a menu that you can use to send a message to the company through the website.
There is a phone number buried deeply within the Postmates Terms and Conditions. Inside a legal notice for California residents, Postmates.com says that residents can contact the company “in order to resolve a complaint regarding the Platform or the receive further information” by calling 800-952-5210.
PissedConsumer has also found that you may reach out to the company’s customer service by calling the Postmates phone number at (800) 882-6106.
Instacart vs Postmates Delivery Service
Both Instacart and Postmates deliver groceries, but they offer different things, in some cases well beyond typical groceries. To use Instacart.com, you create an account on either the website or through the Instacart shopper app.
According to the company, it also offers delivery in less than one hour in some circumstances as well as “exclusive deals” on popular products through Instacart coupons.
However, when we started an order for Costco, we were shown Instacart fee delivery of $8.99 for an order of at least $35 rather than $3.99 as indicated in the promotion.
A local grocery store, on the contrary, offered both the advertised 1-hour shipping for $5.99 and 2-hour shipping for $3.99. There was no way of knowing any additional Instacart service fees until credit card information was added and an order was placed. The grand total was not available without the company placing a hold on your credit card for more than the total purchase.
The temporary authorization hold is explained in the Instacart customer service pages.
The items available for purchase and delivery are limited to those available through the store selected. If you have difficulties or questions about how Instacart.com works, you can access the help center once you have made an account and logged into the website.
According to Postmates.com, it delivers not only groceries but also food and drinks from area restaurants. As to the help center, Postmates does not limit its delivery services to just food and drinks. The company also delivers anything that is not “controlled substances, live animals, and gift cards.”
To sort out how does Postmates.com work, we created an account so that we could access delivery fees and find the Postmates promo codes and discounts.
To use the company delivery service, you can use the website or the company’s app. According to the help center, to use Postmates you “request a delivery from any merchant in your city.” After you have determined what you want to order, you load it into your cart and order it. This includes the ability to create a custom order if the merchant’s menu isn’t available.
You also have the option to set up your order for delivery or you can arrange to pick it up yourself. According to Postmates help page, you will be given a location to pick-up the items through the mobile app.
Once you have entered your address, the website displays suggested items including Postmates delivery fees for each. While the Postmates delivery fee is indicated as you order, any additional taxes and fees are not evident until you enter all of your credit card information.
This Postmates membership can be paid monthly or auto-billed for $99.99 per year after a seven-day trial. The website advertises that with the savings on “delivery fees and blitz pricing you can cover the cost of membership in as little as two orders per month.”
It begs the question: What is surge or blitz pricing on Postmates orders? The help section explains that “During peak times, delivery prices may surge* (or Blitz). Surge pricing creates a strong financial incentive for Postmates to make themselves available when you need them most.”
In short, you will be charged extra for service during certain time periods. The company assures customers that “You will always be notified of your delivery fee on the checkout screen before requesting a Postmate.” Customers who don’t like their Unlimited Memberships have the option to cancel through the website or to call the Postmates phone number at (800) 882-6106
Instacart vs Postmates Discounts and Specials
There are several opportunities for Instacart discounts and specials. One Instacart special is earning cashback on your orders by sharing your Instacart promo code or sign-up code among your friends and families. According to the promotion page, for every $10 someone else spends using your Instacart referral code, you save $10 on your own orders up to $50.
There is also a page on the company website that offers a specific manufacturer and coupons for various retailers. You choose the store before accessing the Instacart coupons that apply to that store.
To use the Instacart coupons, you click on the plus sign next to the discounted item and it is added to your cart along with the coupon savings. You also have the option to use an Instacart promo code as you are shopping by finding the “Add Promo code” option under your account services on the page.
These Instacart promo codes are not offered on the website but may be sent via email or other means. According to the help section of the website, Instacart does not honor store discounts or promotions. Instead, they use Instacart coupons that “apply automatically to qualifying products at checkout.”
Postmates also offers a referral code that allows friends to sign up for the service and saves you money. This offer gives you Postmates discounts of $5 on five separate orders when a single friend signs up to be part of their community.
It appears as though a promo code is offered to you immediately when you fill in email addresses on the invite a friend page of the website.
There are other discounts available for Postmates free delivery services. The help section explains that to use the Postmates promo codes, you will enter the code in the Postmates Promo Codes section during check-out using a mobile device.
There is no available section to enter a promo code through the website before placing an order.
Postmates coupon and promo codes are sent through email or by push notification if you are using the mobile app. If you have questions about how to use a specific Postmates promo code, you are encouraged to call Postmates phone number, (800) 882-6106.
Postmates vs Instacart Refund Policy
Some of the most frequent customers’ inqueries are about the Instacart refund policy or the Postmates refund policy. Customers feel they were overcharged by their shoppers and seek an Instacart refund or a Postmates refund.
How to get a refund from Instacart?
The Instacart refund policy is outlined on the same page as the Cancellation policy. To request a refund “for any reason”, you need to “make your request within 7 days of delivery.”
The Instacart refund policy asks to let them know “as soon as possible” if your order “is missing items you were charged for on the final receipt” or if it “contains damaged, spoiled or otherwise unusable items.”
It also includes a bit of information about payment processing that states you may not see funds in your bank account for up to two weeks and that credits may be used immediately.
How to get a refund from Postmates?
The Postmates refund policy is not clearly stated anywhere on the company’s website. The closest thing to a refund policy is the blurb that shows up when you navigate through the various issues to send a message to customer service.
According to the blurb, your final charges may be affected by vendor exact pricing or by pending charges that were charged to your credit card before the order was collected. Postmates reassures customers that “All temporary authorization holds are reversed within a few days depending on your bank policy.”
You can contact the company via email to ask specific questions about multiple charges, different totals on your account or other bill-related questions, but there is no written explanation of when or if you might be granted a refund.
Postmates vs Instacart Cancellation Policy
When using either food delivery service, you must consider cancelling the other if something goes wrong. As both companies have subscription services, you must consider how to cancel Instacart and Postmates memberships as well as the Instacart and Postmates cancellation policy for individual orders.
What is Instacart cancellation policy?
The Instacart cancellation policy states that, “you can cancel an order for a full refund without any additional fees ay any time before a shopper begins shopping.”
The Instacart cancellation policy also gives instructions on how to cancel an individual order through the app or in a web browser by clicking through your profile.
To cancel an Instacart Express membership, the customer support page tells that you must log into your account and then, inside the Instacart Express section, select “Change my plan” and then “End membership”.
The fine print at the bottom of the page notes that if you “cancel your Instacart Express membership within the first 15 calendar days of your paid Instacart Express membership” you can “receive a refund of the Instacart Express membership fee you paid, but only if you have not placed any orders using your Instacart Express membership.”
What is Postmates cancellation policy?
If you’re wondering how to cancel Postmates Unlimited, there is a page dedicated to Postmates Unlimited cancellation on the company’s website. It gives information on how to delete Postmates Unlimited services through your phone app as well.
According to the page, you will cancel the Postmates Unlimited membership by clicking on the button on the page. The button takes you to your account where you can access the Postmates Unlimited section to activate or deactivate the membership.
Postmates cancellation page also includes information about being charged for the membership. If you cancel before the end of your trial period, you will not be charged. If you cancel after the trial period, you must cancel before the end of the billing period.
If you paid for a specific membership period and you used your member benefits, “you will not receive any refund but you will be able to use your Unlimited membership for the reFd up or delivered, you will still “pay for the items and a cancelation fee to cover the cost. Since the service was not completed, you won’t pay the Delivery Fee or the Service Fee.” If you cancel after the order was placed and picked up, you need to pay the full amount.
Your life is busy and taking advantage of services designed to simplify your life makes sense. When it comes to deciding on a grocery and home goods delivery service, reading reviews, studying websites and seeing what others have said about Instacart vs. Postmates will give you a better understanding of both companies. Likewise, if you’d like to share your shopping experience with these companies, you’re welcome to leave a review on Pissed Consumer.
By Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert
Rebecca Garland, M.S. is a business and education writer. She holds secondary teaching certifications in six areas, has a degree in Business, and earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. As an expert, Rebecca has been working with international clients since 2005.
*The company ratings on the PissedConsumer website are calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the company’s profile. The algorithm parameters are: users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company responses and more. The PissedConsumer algorithm is also subject to change in the future.
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