Walmart’s Identity Tool for Spark Drivers Locks Out Legitimate Workers

Walmart’s Identity Tool for Spark Drivers Locks Out Legitimate Workers

A customer in a Walmart store parking lot
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

  • Walmart spent months testing and rolling out a facial recognition tool to verify Spark drivers.
  • But some said the feature didn’t recognize them, causing Walmart to disable their accounts.
  • As Business Insider previously reported, some Spark drivers are using accounts under other people’s names.

Last Thursday, Walmart’s Spark app prompted Chastity Lopez to take a photo of her face to confirm she was the person using her account.

Lopez has had to do the same for the past two months, as Walmart began using the feature nationwide to verify the identity of delivery workers like him. But on Thursday, he rejected her photo three times, then deactivated his Spark account.

“He said the lighting wasn’t good, and I was in pure light,” Lopez, who delivers for Spark in upstate New York, told Business Insider. “Even went out in the sun. Still nothing.” Lopez is now unable to pick up deliveries for the Spark, which he has been doing since 2021.

BI spoke with another Walmart Spark employee who said they were immediately disabled after trying to complete identity verification late last year. A driver in Alabama said they emailed Spark support several times over the course of a month. The driver asked not to be named in this article for fear of retaliation from Walmart.

Gig workers’ accounts for apps like Spark, Instacart, DoorDash and Grubhub are often suspended with little warning or explanation. Employees told BI that it can be impossible to even get straight answers from companies about whether they violated any policies in the first place.

Walmart has been testing Spark facial recognition in select markets since at least the summer of last year, and has been rolling it out nationwide since November. A third-party verification tool periodically asks users to take a selfie. Walmart then compares it to a previously submitted photo of the driver’s state-issued ID.

The introduction comes after it was discovered that some Walmart Spark drivers were using multiple accounts under fake identities to claim more orders and earn more money.

“The third-party identity verification tool is working as intended. Drivers have three attempts to pass the selfie verification,” a Walmart spokesperson said, “after the third failed attempt, they are kicked off the platform.”

“If a driver believes they have been disabled in error, they can file an appeal and our team will look into it,” the spokesperson said.

Other users have reported that Spark kicked them out of their accounts after trying to complete verification, according to dozens of posts over the past few months on the Reddit page for Spark drivers.

A post on r/Sparkdriver from November reads: “My account has been disabled after authentication.” “I think it’s because I lost weight and it didn’t recognize my biometrics,” compared to a two-year-old driver’s license photo.

“Last Monday I was suspended due to an ID issue,” another post said. “I immediately filed an appeal, yesterday they said that my deactivation will be upheld.”

The comments on the post, including some from other drivers in the same position, suggest different ways to contact Spark’s driver support. But others are just focused on moving forward.

“I started DoorDash,” one comment read.

Do you work for Spark, Instacart, DoorDash, or another delivery service and have a story idea to share? Contact this reporter [email protected]

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