Instacart Sued for Overcharging Customers, Pocketing Difference

On Wednesday, a consumer filed a class-action complaint in the California State Superior Court for the County of San Francisco against Maplebear Inc.. doing business as Instacart, as well as unknown individuals for allegedly overcharging customers “when it makes substitutions such as for lower weight produce or for cheaper substitute products (‘the Substitute Goods’)” and pocketing the difference.

The plaintiff asserted that when grocery shopping and delivery platform Instacart makes substitutions, it pays a lower price for these goods, but the company allegedly charges customers the full price of the unsubstituted goods and pockets the difference, despite not delivering the more expensive unsubstituted goods. The plaintiff stated that Instacart represented the price for certain products sold via the Instacart app to the putative class, for which he and the putative class “viewed and relied on these representations.” However, according to the complaint, these prices were misrepresentations when substitutions occurred because the plaintiff and putative class purchased goods from Instacart at a certain price, but the price was not adjusted. Consequently, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants “took advantage of” consumers.

The plaintiff added that consumers “enter into agreements based on the goods and services offered and features of those goods and services such as the price. Consumers rely on the representations of service providers in order to know which goods and services to purchase.” The plaintiff stated that the Instacart “profits from the sale of the Substitute Goods” practice, which, according to the plaintiff, if consumers were aware of this policy, “many of the consumers would not have agreed to purchase products which were not delivered and for which they were charged despite cheaper substitutes being provided instead.” The plaintiff contended that consumers “are unable to ascertain that Defendant will engage in this Substitute Goods practice, based on the representations of Defendant.” As a result, the plaintiff argued that Instacart’s misrepresents this information and the representations “are objectively false and constitute false advertising … and an unlawful, unfair, or deceptive business practice().” The plaintiff asserted that he “received no benefit from the overcharge price he paid for the Substitute Goods,” which Instacart “benefitted on the loss to Plaintiff and provided nothing of benefit to Plaintiff in exchange.”

The class consists of: “All California consumers who, between the applicable statute of limitations and the present, made a purchase from Defendant through its Instacart app where Defendant provided a cheaper Substitute Good but did not refund the difference in price between the Substitute Good and the original selected good during the Class Period.” The class period is four years prior to the filing date of the complaint to the present.

Instacart is accused of “false advertising, marketing, representations, and sale of the overpriced Substitute Goods to consumers statewide.” The causes of action include: violation of the California False Advertising Act, violation of Unfair Business Practices Act, and violation of Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

The plaintiff seeks class certification and for the plaintiff and his counsel to represent the class, an injunction, corrective advertising, an award for damages, costs, and fees, among other relief. The plaintiff is represented by the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman P.C.