Money

The Sad Price Amazon Delivery Drivers Have to Pay to Give Speedy Service

Doing your holiday shopping on Amazon is easy.

But delivering those gifts in time for the holidays? Not as easy. Amazon drivers who deliver for the company are feeling the pressure, and it's taking a toll, according to delivery drivers who spoke to The Los Angeles Times.

"If you bring anything back, they basically want to cut your throat off."

Amazon considers its delivery drivers to be independent contractors. The job website, Amazon Flex, where you can apply to be a driver, boasts that as an Amazon driver you can "be your own boss" and "build your own schedule" and that you can make $18-$25 per hour.

Amazon Flex homepage

But that's not the experience some of the company's drivers have reported, like Angel Echeverria of Los Angeles, California, who told The Los Angeles Times he makes $15 per hour as a driver for LMS Transportation, a courier company delivering on behalf of Amazon.

Furthermore, Echeverria is typically expected to deliver "about 260 boxes" per day, Natalie Kitroeff of the LA Times reports, across about 200 addresses spanning "up to 80 miles" in Southern California. This means he has to deliver to one house about every two minutes.

Amazon boxes

It's a grueling schedule and it's unforgiving, according to the drivers. Every package must be delivered, which sometimes results in drivers working extra, unpaid hours. "If you bring anything [packages] back, they basically want to cut your throat off," Echeverria told The Los Angeles Times.

Though California law requires employees to take a 30 minute lunch break along with hourly breaks to any hourly employee who works for at least 5 hours, Echeverria has stopped taking a formal lunch break because, "Amazon employees will call his dispatcher at any point in the day if they notice that he’s behind schedule." Yet Amazon maintains that Echeverria is not an official Amazon employee.

Echeverria is only one example. Kitroeff spoke with other drivers who echoed Echeverria's complaints, like Bernadean Rittman, who said, "They have so much control over us, it’s not even fair."

It's not only the company's drivers.

This year, Amazon launched Amazon Prime Air, "a fleet of about 40 planes that reduce its dependence on FedEx and United Parcel Service," The Chicago Tribune reports. However, the pilots, who are hired via third party, are having similar issues as the drivers and are currently embroiled in a dispute with the online retailer.

Airline Professionals Association and Teamsters Local 1224 set up a website (CanAmazonDeliver.com) to tell Amazon customers about the flaws of Prime Air: "... without the staff or expertise to run its own airline, the company [Amazon] is relying on third-party contracted cargo airlines for deliveries ... At this rate, there may not be enough pilots to deliver for Amazon around the holidays."

Amazon box

"What can you do to prevent this from happening?" they wrote. "Give one star for Amazon Prime Air and tell Amazon executives to make sure its contracted pilots have a fair contract to ensure stability and that there are enough qualified pilots to get the job done."

The Tribune reports they reached out to an Amazon spokesperson and did not hear back. We have also reached out to Amazon and will update when we get a response.

[H/T Los Angeles Times]