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Inflation squeezing gig workers and frustrating app users

Marques Thomas

On a good day, Cheyenne Tiffany would take six to seven well-paying jobs on Instacart. On a bad day, it can be as little as one job paying $12.

She’s meeting her bottom line and turning a profit, she said. But there’s still some anxiety.

“I drive a vehicle with a fairly large gas tank," she said. "When people are expecting their groceries to be delivered for close to nothing and they don’t tip, it’s like nobody’s gonna do that. And then they get mad when they live fifteen miles away.”

She used to work both Instacart and Shipt, but she now only does the former because Shipt won't tell her the tip amount that she would receive, she said.

But users will still yell at her and leave her a low rating for telling them that there’s nothing in stock, Tiffany said.

"You’ll have orders sitting out for hours," she said. "People get mad when their stuff isn’t delivered. Okay, well, you live fifteen miles away and you didn’t tip. No one’s bringing you anything."

It’s hard to say whether gig work has gotten better or worse overall, but she said there has been a slump in the past few months.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.