Personal Finance

Grocery delivery saves time, but leaves some shoppers frustrated

Thousands of people now have groceries delivered to their front door, but is it worth the extra cost and chance of errors?

Grocery delivery saves time, but leaves some shoppers frustrated
Scripps News

If it's time you want to save, then grocery delivery could be right for you.

No more wandering the aisles for an hour, then waiting in line for checkout. Just order on your phone, and everything shows up at your front door a few hours later.

But there can be drawbacks to having your groceries delivered, including missing items, poor substitutions, lousy produce, or mystery charges on your bill.

Jason Goecke, like a lot of us these days, hates taking time for grocery shopping. He recently started ordering delivery until one recent purchase left him with a bad taste, and it wasn't from spoiled food.

"There was a ton of stuff we hadn't ordered," he said.

He claims his bill was packed with charges for other items. "It was like $156 on extra stuff," he told us.

His discovery was not unique.

The Better Business Bureau has compiled several thousand complaints the past three years involving some of the top delivery services in the country.

So is it worth it?

Kevin Brasler of Consumers' Checkbook says delivery has its perks.

"If you have a disability, he said, "these things can be a godsend."

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For most people, he says, it’s all about the time saved.

"Once you've set up accounts, and once you've made your list, it can be a tremendous time saver," he said. 

But to reap the benefits, he says keep a few things in mind:

Whether it's through a delivery fee or an annual membership, you'll always pay something extra for groceries to arrive at your doorstep. All that work is not free.

You may also have to tip, unless the store has a no tipping policy.

Someone else is picking out your food, so the quality, cuts and sizes are often up to them. 

"A lot of consumers we survey say, you know, I end up having to go to the store myself to buy the things they couldn't bring me anyways," Brasler said. "And so then is it really a time saver? It may not be."

And errors do happen. 

If you end up with missing items, or unexpected charges, Brasler says always reach out to the store or service to request a refund.     

Jason Goeke did that, and says he got his $156 refunded, but says it took two frustrating weeks, and several calls.

Nowadays, he prefers store pickup instead.

"We don't do the delivery," he said. "We just have them pick it, and we go and pick it up."

That way, he says, "We see what we are getting then and there."

And if there are any wrong items, or overcharges, he says he can easily challenge it.

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