Instacart is launching a prescription delivery option in partnership with Costco, the company announced on Medium on Thursday. The program was tested in some parts of Southern California and Washington state prior to the announcement. But now it goes live in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, Washington, Washington D.C., and California through Costo units.
At this moment, 200 Costco pharmacies will offer this delivery option through Instacart's app. The company notes that it plans to expand the option across the United States as COVID-19 causes extensions in lockdowns throughout the country.
How it works — Once your prescription is ready for pick up, you will receive a text from Costco along with a link to time your delivery. The link will lead you to a confirmation page with a prompt to sign into your Costco account and add other items, if you want. Once done, you will be prompted to confirm that you're over the age of 18. Users have to share their date of birth and a valid government ID at checkout. According to Instacart, the medication will arrive in a sealed bag, furthering efforts to encourage contactless delivery.
Workers' complaints remain — Instacart calls itself an essential service under this pandemic. In a separate post, the company recently described the volume of work on its shoppers as "unprecedented" and added that it took pride in its delivery workforce going from 200,000 to 350,000 in a matter of weeks. But employees have vocalized grievances about unsafe working conditions, inadequate hazard pay, and incidents of customers luring shoppers in with big tips, only to nix them at the last minute.
In response, Instacart has offered little to no guardrails to protect its workers from manipulation and financial harm. While its official Twitter shares sheepish advice on tipping, its main press room on Medium, at the time of this writing, shows no specific or robust company position on these reports.
Given the past evidence of some workers experiencing manipulation from consumers, it is very possible that this prescription delivery will also undergo abusive tactics once it expands. If Instacart wants to position itself as a noble service during a viral outbreak, it has to enact policies that benefit customers — without hurting workers.