Workers for Instacart and other gig services are tracking which houses tip bait, including by marking offending addresses on Google Maps.
David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Workers for Instacart and other delivery apps are marking tip-baiters on Google Maps.The goal is to help other shoppers and delivery drivers avoid low-tipping customers.Several points labeled “Tip Baiter” disappeared from Google Maps after Insider reached out to Google for comment.
The battle over tip baiting has a new front: Google Maps.
Gig workers, like those working for Instacart, have long resented so-called tip baiters, or customers who place orders with a generous tip only to reduce or cut it entirely after their ride or delivery. Many say they get much of their income through tips. Base pay on DoorDash, for example, can be as low as $2 per order, while Instacart cut its base pay to $4 last month. Some gig workers are fighting back and warning colleagues not to take orders from tip baiters by labeling customers’ homes on Google Maps.
Across the US, it was not hard to find houses marked “Tip Baiter” on Google Maps. But several points labeled “Tip Baiter” disappeared from Google Maps after Insider reached out to Google for comment on this story.
Insider also spoke with two Instacart shoppers about the practice. They asked not to be identified, citing fear of retaliation by Instacart.
Instacart workers put tip baiters on the map
One Instacart shopper in Minnesota told Insider she keeps her own private map of tip-baiting addresses. If she finds out another shopper had the same problem at one of them, she’ll add a publicly visible landmark to Google Maps.
When anyone adds a new landmark to Google Maps, they have to categorize it. “It’s really, really petty, but I marked her as a public restroom,” the shopper told Insider of a customer with a large Costco order who changed the tip from $22 to $5 after it was delivered. Google eventually took down the label, but the shopper noted: “It wouldn’t be a problem to re-do it.”
Two addresses marked “Tip Baiter” on Google Maps near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On Reddit, gig workers encourage each other to mark the offending residences. In apartment complexes, workers add the apartment number in the description.
The practice isn’t limited to Instacart shoppers. Workers for Walmart’s Spark delivery service are also among the gig workers marking alleged tip baiters.
Walmart did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Instacart told Insider its policies prohibit shoppers from sharing “confidential information,” such as customers’ addresses, beyond the app. It also doesn’t allow “conduct that may be harassing or discriminatory in nature.”
Customers have two hours after their order is delivered to decrease their tips. If a customer reduces or zeros out their tip, Instacart also pays shoppers up to $10 toward replacing it, the company said.
“Our policies clearly state that business listings must represent real, public businesses that people can interact with,” a Google spokesperson told Insider. “As a result, we’re in the process of removing these types of listings.”
Google told Insider it uses machine-learning algorithms to detect landmarks that might violate its policy. Those listings are either deleted automatically or sent to a human for review, the company said.
But some shoppers are willing to do more to call out tip baiters. The Minnesota shopper told Insider about another Costco order she delivered to a restaurant outside of the Twin Cities.
After the restaurant cut her tip, she left a review on Google: “Good wine selection, clean, friendly. However, they use delivery apps to stock many of their charcuterie and snack items, and often place large orders with a low tip.”
“I had actually gone there previously,” she told Insider, justifying her positive comments.
A shopper in North Carolina told Insider that she doesn’t mark tip baiters publicly. Instead, she notes the addresses she delivered on a map that only she can view. “I mark them red or green,” she said, adding that red residences are tip baiters.
Customers have a lot of power over shoppers, she added. “They can zero us out, and Instacart won’t stop them from doing that,” she said.
Do you work for Instacart or a similar service and have a story to share? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected]