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Instacart is the latest service to add a temporary fuel surcharge

Instacart joins Uber, Lyft and other car-centric internet services in adding a temporary fuel surcharge to cover rising costs at the pump. The company will charge customers an additional 40 cents per order “over the next month”, with all the extra money going directly to delivery people. The higher prices will arrive in the coming days.

The company also highlighted existing tools drivers could use to soften the blow, including cash back benefits for gas and advance information that clearly indicates which batches of orders will generate the most revenue. Fuel surcharges will appear as labels on these lots.

As with other surcharges, this increase was prompted by a spike in fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Whether that’s enough or not is another matter. While Instacart employees “spend more time” shopping than driving, as VP of Operations Tom Maguire put it, 40 cents per order isn’t a lot. Prices have climbed 19% since late February, according to the Energy Information Administration — the extra expense could easily outweigh the benefits of the surcharge.

Compensation at rivals could also be better in some cases. Uber Eats deliveries, for example, now include surcharges between 35 cents and 45 cents. It’s clearly worse in some cases, but Uber’s offer will also last at least 60 days. If prices remain high, Instacart couriers may have to either hope for an extension or swallow the entire freight cost.