I'm a part-time Amazon delivery driver. Here's how we cheat to get around the strict rules and constant monitoring.
"Amazon preaches safety, security, and security, and while this is a great narrative for the media, behind the scenes it's a different story." Rolf Vennenbernd / Bildallianz via Getty Images
Jay (not his real name) has been a part-time driver for Amazon in Michigan since 2019.
He says so as not to be punished by Amazon's tracking app drivers who sometimes trade phones.
He says it is "frustrating" to be monitored. This is his story as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
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Jay (not his real name) has been a part-time driver since 2019, delivering packages for Amazon in rural Michigan. He spoke anonymously out of fear of losing his position. His identity has been verified by an insider.
I started working part-time for Amazon as a driver in 2019 after seeing an online classified ad. I love to travel and thought I could use a few extra dollars so I applied.
My starting salary was $ 16 an hour. For my one year anniversary, I got a $ 0.25 hourly increase. Drivers recently received a COVID-19 bonus - part-time workers like me received $ 150.
It's no secret that Amazon uses third party delivery service providers (DSPs) to complete the majority of its shipments. So while I only deliver Amazon parcels and wear branded clothing with your logo, I don't work for Amazon.
I like the DSP I work for and I'm grateful for the job, but Amazon's constant need to implement new rules is frustrating and has resulted in a lot of sales in my workplace.
Read more: Big companies are buying third-party Amazon sellers, which accounted for more than half of the retail giant's $ 386 billion net sales in 2020. Here are the biggest players in this fast growing trend.
There are roughly 25 to 30 full-time drivers and usually the same number of weekend drivers floating around. This is partly due to the higher turnover from part-time workers. My best guess is that there have been 30 to 40 new drivers since last year.
It's like an infinite revolving door with a new face popping up every time I walk in.
Amazon preaches safety, security, and security, and while this is a great narrative for the media, behind the scenes it's a different story.
The DSPs are under a lot of pressure to perform well or they run the risk of losing their contract, and that pressure is increasing on us drivers.
In the name of security, Amazon is monitoring us by tracking everything, but what it really does is put more pressure on.
They monitor everything - from buckling up to accelerating, braking, cornering, reversing to touching our screens while driving via an app called Mentor.
The app can be downloaded either on our mobile phone or on a phone provided by our DSP. I chose this because I don't like the idea of having a tracker on my personal phone.
At the end of each shift, which typically lasts between nine and eleven hours, the app generates a score based on how well we did. The highest score is 850.
When I started almost two years ago, you were fine when you have a 550 but no more. Now they want you to be in the high 700s.
I used to have a 550, now I'm more like a 750 which is basically the lowest score Amazon will allow without the DSP getting into trouble.
The problem is, your score can get a hit for things that are completely out of your control.
For example, if a child runs into the street to watch their soccer ball and you are forced to unexpectedly step on the brakes, it will contradict your score. If a deer pops out in front of your van and you swerve to avoid an accident, it will also go against your score. If you're driving and your GPS suddenly goes down and you touch the screen to get back on track - boom, that's another offense. What else should we do in these situations?
I've never had an accident before, but these types of instances can pull a driver's score down, and the bottom line is it all depends on your score.
My DSP doesn't want to put its business at risk, so we've created a workaround to get the system playing.
When a driver's scores start to suffer, our supervisor tells us to log into the app at the start of our shift and then hand our phone over to a driver who normally scores high to take it out on his route. Problem solved.
I drive a rental car as opposed to an official Amazon vehicle, which I prefer because they can't go above 70 MPH, not that I accelerate to anything.
If I am told I need to have a camera in my van, I can tell you that I probably won't continue working there. I don't have to be under constant surveillance all day, even if it's done under the guise of security.
From the moment we get to work, we have to make an effort.
Once we get to the property, we are required to personally do a 60-point check of our vehicles before assigning our routes, issuing packages, and sending them in waves to our hub to collect our packages. Some examples of things we need to check every shift are whether our wiper fluid is refilled, whether our vehicle is missing a fuel cap, whether our reversing camera is working and whether our tires are checking for baldness, pressure and tread depth.
The hub is like a giant bee nest that everyone weaves in and out of as we have to scan every package before we load our vehicle. Then we have to move forward quickly to ensure that we can actually deliver everything on our route by 10 p.m. That is Amazon's requirement.
I have an average of 150 packages and 130 stopovers per shift and about 30% to 40% more between the high season, which runs from October to December. During the high season, Amazon gives part-time riders like me a seasonal bonus of $ 150.
I have a rural route most of the time, so I want to be the last one out here on a country road with no street lights delivering parcels after dark.
We get electronic notifications to take two 15 minute breaks during our shift and a lunch break, but I always decline the notifications and only eat while I drive - which is a no-no, but it's really the only way to do this to reach The job is done on time and there is no need to send undelivered packages back to the hub.
The DSP is penalized for returning packages even though I don't know the threshold. I'm sure there is an allowance built in for this as it is just not safe to leave packages at some addresses, but I suspect the DSP will be penalized if too many are returned.
I'm not proud to admit it, but I peed in a bottle to save time on my route.
It is partly by choice, partly by necessity. When I work on these country roads, it can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to find a fast food restaurant or gas station and I just don't have that much time.
With four miles between the houses and no one around, I might be able to pee on a country road, but most of the time it's a bottle in the van.
I rarely had to do this when I was working for UPS because of the large number of commercial deliveries they made. I've always been relatively close to a company where I could use the facilities.
Even on the days that I manage to get ready early, it's almost a guarantee that I'll be sent back to help a driver on a different route, which is not ideal because at that point I am only going home want to come.
There has been a lot of talk about union education lately, but personally I'm not a big fan of unions.
I feel like they were beneficial in the 1940s and 50s, but now it's just a big, greedy takeover.
When I worked as a temporary worker at UPS, my part-time status meant I was not entitled to any benefits, but I still had to pay union dues.
One of the biggest problems between Amazon and its drivers is that the people who make all the rules are in offices, not behind the wheel.
In most cases the implemented rules are not intuitive to understand what is actually required to do our job safely and efficiently.
Amazon prides itself on bringing driver safety under control, but then has requirements that force us to bypass the system.
In a statement to Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said: We are helping drivers take the time they need to take breaks between stops and provide a list in the Amazon Delivery app to deliver to nearby toilets and gas stations see. Drivers have a built-in time on their route to take breaks and use the toilet. In fact, the app will notify them when it's time to take a break. We work closely with DSPs to set realistic expectations that don't put undue pressure on them or their drivers. We use sophisticated technology that schedules routes to be completed within a specified amount of time, taking into account numerous factors such as packet volume, address complexity and the appropriate time for breaks. In fact, more than 75% of drivers complete their routes by 30 minutes or more within the scheduled time. Whether it's the latest in safety technology in our vans, driver safety training programs, or continuous improvements to our mapping and routing technology, we've invested tens of millions of dollars in safety mechanisms on our network and regularly communicating best safety practices for drivers.
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