• Walmart Spark drivers often get requests from customers to drop groceries off in their kitchens.
  • But coming into customers’ houses is against Spark policies.
  • Walmart’s InHome delivery service, which is staffed by full-time employees, offers kitchen drop-offs.

Earlier this year, a Spark delivery driver in Nevada pulled up to a house with a few bags of groceries for delivery.

The customer who greeted him had a request: Could he bring the groceries in her house? The driver said he politely declined, saying that Spark independent contractors are supposed to leave deliveries at customers’ front door.

“All of a sudden, all hell broke loose, and she started screaming at me and yelling,” the driver told Insider.

His experience isn’t unusual: Spark drivers often get requests from customers who expect groceries to be delivered right into their kitchens, according to three drivers Insider spoke to as well as posts on social media platforms. Customers are likely confusing the delivery for another service Walmart offers, InHome Delivery.

InHome Delivery promises customers “fresh groceries and everyday essentials directly into their kitchen or garage fridges.”

But Spark drivers aren't supposed to enter customers' residences, and doing so could put them at risk of getting deactivated.

"Safety is Walmart's priority, and our contracts with drivers prohibit drivers from entering homes. Drivers may report any safety concerns to our driver support line," a Walmart spokesperson told Insider.

"For customers who want orders delivered inside, Walmart InHome is currently available in 46 markets, including Miami, Dallas, and San Francisco, representing coverage for 35 million households," the spokesperson said.

Only full-time Walmart associates can make InHome deliveries, according to Walmart. Spark drivers, by contrast, are gig workers paid per order or batch of orders, and they aren't allowed to go into shoppers' homes. Workers drop off bags in front of a customer's home or hand over the delivery to the customer, similar to DoorDash or Instacart deliveries.

Declining the request, though, risks upsetting customers, who can leave the driver a bad review or pull their tip from the order.

Entering someone's home can pose a safety risk for drivers, one Spark contractor in Texas told Insider. The driver said that she has brought deliveries into homes at the request of senior citizens who "really can't do it" themselves.

But otherwise, she turns down requests to bring groceries into customers' homes. "I've set it right inside their door just so that way, it's in," the driver said. But she said she's not comfortable bringing a delivery inside a customer's home "because you don't know who they are."

Employees making InHome Deliveries have access to a smart lock that allows them access to a customer's home. Customers can view the delivery as it happens through a camera worn by the worker. The service costs an additional $7 per month or $40 per year for Walmart+ subscribers, though customers have to order at least $35 worth of merchandise and buy the smart lock, according to the company.

But the difference between InHome and traditional delivery often isn't clear to customers. InHome has received plenty of media coverage as Walmart has expanded the program, and the retailer has advertised the service on TV.

It might not always be clear to drivers, either.

In March, one driver shared a screenshot of the Spark Driver app on Reddit. The screenshot showed an order with a special instruction from the customer: "Please wear mask and bring in kitchen."

"New to Spark, is it normal to be asked to bring inside the house?" the poster asked. "Is it safe?"

"Walmart has a service for this where Walmart EMPLOYEES are paid to go inside and put up the customers groceries," one commenter responded. "We are independent contractors and only get paid to deliver."

Walmart has spent five years recruiting gig workers to drive for Spark. In June, the company said the number of Spark drivers had tripled in the past year, with "hundreds of thousands" of gig workers making deliveries for the service.

That growth has come with challenges, though. Some drivers told Insider in August that Spark workers regularly use multiple identities to pick up and deliver orders, creating concerns for customers about who is showing up at their front doors.

CEO Doug McMillon said in September that Walmart wants associates to make more deliveries going forward.

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