A customer in the parking lot of a Walmart store
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Walmart has spent months testing and rolling out a facial recognition tool to verify its Spark drivers.But some say the feature didn’t recognize them, leading Walmart to deactivate their accounts.Some Spark drivers appear to be using accounts under other peoples’ names, Business Insider previously reported.
Last Thursday, Walmart’s Spark app prompted Chastity Lopez to take a picture of her face to verify that she was the one using her account.
Lopez has had to do the same thing over the past two months since Walmart started using the feature nationally to verify the identity of delivery workers like her. But on Thursday, it rejected her photo three times, then deactivated her Spark account.
“It said the lighting wasn’t good, and I was in pure lighting,” Lopez, who had delivered for Spark in upstate New York, told Business Insider. “I even went outside with the sun. Still, nothing.” Lopez now can’t take on deliveries for Spark, which she’s been doing since 2021.
BI spoke with another Walmart Spark worker who said they were deactivated immediately after trying to complete the identity verification late last year. The driver, who works in Alabama, said that they emailed Spark support about the issue several times over a month. The driver asked not to be identified in this article for fear of retaliation from Walmart.
Gig workers for apps like Spark, Instacart, DoorDash, and Grubhub often have their accounts suspended with little notice or explanation. Workers have told BI that even getting a straight answer from the companies about whether they violated any policies in the first place can be next to impossible.
Walmart has been testing its Spark facial recognition feature in select markets since at least last summer and started using it nationally in November. The verification tool, which was developed by a third party, periodically asks users to take a selfie. Walmart then compares that to a previously submitted photo from the driver’s government-issued identification.
The rollout comes after some Walmart Spark drivers were found using multiple accounts under false identities to claim more orders and make more money.
“The third-party identity verification tool is working as intended. Drivers have up to three attempts to pass the selfie check,” a Walmart spokesperson said, adding that “after the third failed attempt they are removed from the platform.”
“If a driver believes they were mistakenly deactivated, they can submit an appeal and our team will review,” the spokesperson said.
Other users have reported Spark freezing them out of their accounts after they tried to complete the verification, according to a dozen posts over the last several months on a Reddit page for Spark drivers.
“My account was deactivated after the identity verification,” one post from November on r/Sparkdriver reads. “I think it’s due to my weight loss and it did not recognize my biometrics” compared to a two-year-old driver’s license photo.
“I was deactivated last Monday due to the ID verification glitch,” another post, this one from August, reads. “I immediately filed an appeal, and was told yesterday that my deactivation will be upheld.”
Comments on the post, including some that appear to be from other drivers in the same position, offer different ways to contact Spark’s driver support. But others are just focused on moving on.
“I started DoorDash,” one comment read.
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