Imperfect Foods: an imperfect answer to Covid-19 grocery delivery

Two months after we began staying home, you would think home grocery delivery options would have improved. They had major problems when I first wrote about home delivery. But I just tried Imperfect Foods hoping it would be more reliable. Sadly, it was not and I ended my subscription after only one delivery.

The concept behind Imperfect is a worthy one — to use produce that might not look the best but is perfectly edible, preventing it from going to waste. Demand for it was so high in April, when my daughter told me she uses it, that I could not open an account until May. When I did, though, I found it’s having the same problems larger food retailers are.

My Imperfect Foods box really was imperfect — arriving a day late

It also had a problem I hadn’t encountered before — it simply couldn’t deliver anywhere near when it promised. It originally gave me an eight-hour delivery window — from noon to 8 p.m. In normal times, that would have been unacceptably long to me, but these days I have nowhere to go so I accepted it.

But when 8 p.m. and then 9 p.m. came and went on delivery day without any food, I emailed to find out how late I would need to stay up for my delivery. The answer — it wasn’t coming until the next day, with another eight-hour delivery window. Lucky I wasn’t counting on that delivery to make my dinner the night it didn’t come.

The next day, as time passed I wondered what was happening — until I received an email saying it would be yet another day before my delivery arrived. A delivery two days late is unacceptable to me, especially because I had ordered a meat and seafood add-on to my veggies and wondered where those all were sitting for two days.

I immediately canceled my subscription, thinking the order would be canceled as well, since Imperfect had emailed me that my credit card would not be charged until the day after a delivery. That proved to be untrue, my card was charged the first delivery date that had been promised.

Shortly after I canceled my subscription, my box arrived! Why would they tell me it was not going to arrive for another day if it was already en route, albeit a day late? Imperfect’s customer communications leave a lot to be desired. It seems all automated with no human element.

What my Imperfect Foods box looked like when I opened it. The few meat items were mixed with the veggies, not in a separate box as I expected from the website.

The box itself contained a mix of veggies. The meat and seafood “box” was a major disappointment, because I did not get the salmon nor the ground turkey I’d ordered — both were out-of-stock, an email sent as it was being delivered informed me — another communications breakdown.

Imperfect also says it’s cheaper than shopping in a supermarket. I’d say that’s only true if you never buy your vegetables on sale. I tend to only buy what’s on sale each week, so the box, which cost me $30 with the delivery fee added on, was no bargain for me.

A few days after the box arrived, I was back in a supermarket, mask on face, gloves on, wiping down a cart handle.

My box contents spread out on our table.

Going to supermarkets these days is a bit like being in a scene from the movie Night of the Living Dead. People walking zombie-like, faces unrecognizable, up and down aisles which have become one-way and have bare shelves where once hand-sanitizer, disinfectants and yeast were stocked. But ordering home grocery delivery still cannot supply me with all I need, so I’ll have to take my chances in the stores.

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