According to a Bloomberg article, Amazon’s contract Flex delivery driver fleet already has to cope with a slew of indignities, and now they can be recruited — and dismissed — by algorithms. Amazon’s Flex delivery service, which began in 2015, utilizes millions of subcontracted drivers to ensure same-day and other deliveries arrive on schedule. Drivers register using a smartphone app that allows them to select shifts, organize deliveries, and report issues. However, the dependence on technology does not stop there: they are also assessed for performance and fired by algorithms with little human interaction.
According to the study, the system may often dismiss employees for no apparent reason. One employee said that her rating (which ranges from Fantastic to Great to Fair to At-Risk) dropped when she had to stop making deliveries due to a nail in her tire. Over the next few weeks, she was able to raise it to Great, but her account was finally suspended due to a violation of Amazon’s rules of service. She appealed her dismissal, but the business refused to reinstate her.
Another driver was unable to deliver items to an apartment complex because the gate was shut and the residents refused to pick up the phone. An Amazon locker in another building was unable to open. His rating decreased as well, and he spent six weeks attempting to improve it only to be sacked for falling below a certain standard. Many drivers believe there is no recourse if they believe they were wrongfully terminated. To appeal a termination, drivers must spend $200, and many have claimed it isn’t worth it. Cope, who is 29 years old, remarked, “Whenever there is an issue, there is no support.” “You don’t even want to attempt since you’re pitted against the machine.”
Inside Amazon, however, the experiment has been hailed as a success, according to a former engineer who worked on it. And the stats back this up. According to the research, 4 million drivers worldwide have downloaded the app, with 2.9 million in the United States. In the last five months alone, almost 660,000 users in the United States have downloaded the app. The accusations of bad treatment and unjust termination, according to Amazon, are anecdotal and do not reflect the experience of the great majority of Flex drivers. According to Bloomberg, “We have significantly invested in technology and resources to provide drivers information about their status and ability to continue delivering, and we review all driver appeals.”