Houston grocery delivery services put to the test

A look at Grocery Station, Memorial Concierge, Instacart

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Buying food for your family each week is a necessity, but it can be crowded, time consuming and, if you've got little ones, it can be exhausting.

Several grocery delivery companies have popped up in recent years to handle the weekly chore for you.

Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis put the three most popular services to the test.

Roslyn Bazzelle is an attorney, a Pilates instructor and a mom.

"It's really hard to find time to do the shopping and just regular things around the house," she told Davis.

So Local 2 offered her another assignment -- a chance to have her groceries delivered every week for three weeks.

Bazzelle helped us put three different delivery companies to the test: the Grocery Station, Memorial Concierge and Instacart.

She shopped for the same 27 items at the same store -- HEB. What she got were pretty mixed results.

Memorial Concierge has the widest service area, delivering inside the loop, Memorial, Katy, Sugar Land, The Woodlands and Spring. They'll shop at HEB, Kroger, Randall's or Whole Foods, and they deliver Monday through Saturday. Bazzelle went to the company's website to get started.

"For me, it was more cumbersome than convenient," said Bazzelle. 

Memorial Concierge requires customers to shop its virtual store by scrolling through pages of products and adding items to your cart. The task was too time consuming to Bazzelle.

"The whole point is to save time," she said. "And if I have to sit up and go through your website and pick items one by one, I could be walking through the aisles doing that myself."

Bazzelle said Memorial Concierge delivered waffles instead of pancakes, the cold food was warm and she waited weeks for the final bill.

The total was $167.28 -- $137.38 was for the groceries plus a $23.95 delivery fee and a $5.95 gas surcharge.

Instacart will shop at HEB, Whole Foods and Costco. They deliver seven days a week.

Instacart has the same web set-up as Memorial Concierge, but Local 2 noticed big pricing differences between the two.

A loaf of Orowheat 12 grain bread costs $2.98 at HEB; Instacart charges $3.69 and Memorial Concierge's price is $5.55.

Local 2 spotted upcharges on a lot of products.

Bazzelle's final Instacart bill came to $132.73 for the same items. Your first delivery with Instacart is free, but every one after is $3.99, so Local 2 added that charge to give you a better idea of what you would pay each week. The total was $136.72.

Bazzelle thought The Grocery Station made ordering the easiest.

"You can take your own list and you upload it to their website, and they go and pick the items and they call you if they have any questions," said Bazzelle.

Tara Ruttley is the owner of The Grocery Station. She's a full-time NASA scientist who created the company in 2011.

"When I designed this business, I designed for what I as a consumer thought was fair and what I would pay and what I would need," Ruttley told Davis.

The business is the only one that gives you the actual receipt from the store, so you can see what it paid for each item. They charge you 20 percent of your total bill plus a $5 trip fee.

"Price-wise, they were actually the cheapest," said Bazzelle.

She paid The Grocery Station $129.29. And the lowest priced service was also Bazzelle's top pick.

There was a $30.56 difference between Memorial Concierge and The Grocery Station for the same groceries from the same store.

Memorial Concierge said we should point out customers can pay $19.99 a month for unlimited deliveries, instead of the one-time $23.95 charge Bazzelle paid.

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