A day with an Amazon delivery driver

So today I spent my time sat in the passenger seat watching someone deliver parcels for Amazon. I’ve done this once before and I have to say it seems an awful job…

What I gather, from quizzing the driver’s limited knowledge, is that Amazon sub contracts the delivery of parcels to smaller transport companies. I accept that some working practices- such as having the drivers work on a self employed basis, hiring their vans out at circa £200 per week- may be down to the individual transport companies. But my concern is levied mainly at the outlandish delivery expectations from Amazon.

Amazon provide an app which sets out the route and delivery addresses for the drivers, and has them scan the parcels prior to delivery and then click how it has been delivered (to occupant, neighbour, safe place etc). This reminds me of an eMAR system used to administer medications in care homes. If nobody is available to receive a parcel, the drivers are expected to attempt a redelivery.

The routes that Amazon set are ridiculous- notwithstanding the awful sat nav that I have seen try to take you through dead ends and the wrong way up one way streets- the routes are that large that, coupled with time restraints, encourages illegal and unsafe driving. In order to deliver on time it is common practice to park on double yellow lines and speed, in the full knowledge that failure to do so could lead to losing their job.

Today, the company are taking on a route in a more remote location, and have a much smaller, more manageable number of parcel drops. The problem is, Amazon track this and steadily increase the number of parcels being delivered if they notice the drivers taking lunch breaks etc- the reasoning being if they manage twenty parcels in one hour, that can be replicated for 8 hours in a row. This doesn’t account for traffic, redeliveries, awkward roads etc.

Economically this is gold standard- drivers are paid per route, not per parcel, and so the greater the output, the greater the rewards. At the expense of the drivers. I am all for freedom of contract, and free business, but a responsible company like Amazon should really be looking into the business practices of both themselves and sub contractors. Amazon would defend this criticism, diverting the attention to their sub contracted delivery company, but for me that is not an acceptable defence.

This takes me back to a care agency I used to use for temporary care workers- we would see many foreign faces being literally bussed into the care home, with stories of withholding wages and multiple back to back shifts. Again, theoretically these workers can manage their own rota and turn down work if it would leave them too tired- and the rates we were getting as a home were fantastic… but the reality was these care workers could not turn down a shift for fear of losing all of their work. It was an awful situation for them, and not one we wanted to support as a care home.

Good job too- the agency made headlines weeks after we ended our relationship as they were being investigated for human trafficking offences.

I now exclusively use an agency who are slightly more expensive, but completely open and transparent with me about everything from their recruitment, back office processes, and even their books. We have a strong partnership with them, and I have taken them to my current care home with me… and they have subsequently won business from every home in our group.

Money is not everything.

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