Amazon is one of the most profitable retailers in the world, bringing in $11.6 billion in 2020, which puts it just behind Wal-Mart’s $14.9 billion for the most profitable retailer in the U.S., according to Fortune magazine. Apparently getting there means asking drivers to put their safety at risk to deliver packages more quickly, which to be fair is not the worst thing Amazon drivers have to do in their trucks.
A new report from Vice says drivers are being encourage to disable an app called Mentor, which tracks driver’s actions and gives them a safety score, in order to speed through making deliveries. The goal of Mentor is to prevent accidents, but all that safety is slowing down deliveries, something these companies can’t afford based on Amazon’s business model for its partners. From Vice:
“Sign out of Mentor if you haven’t already,” an dispatcher at an Amazon delivery company texted a delivery driver at DDT2, an Amazon warehouse in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan a little after noon on a day in March, according to a screenshot obtained by Motherboard. This was less than five hours into his 10-hour shift.
“Starting tomorrow everyone needs to be logged into Mentor for at least 2 hours no more no less, so make sure that’s one of the first things we’re doing in the mornings,” a dispatcher at DAT2, an Amazon delivery station in the suburbs of Atlanta told drivers who work 10-hour shifts in a group chat in May 2020.
Mentor is used to keep the delivery drivers Amazon partners with on the straight and narrow when it comes to driving habits. It collects data about the delivery drivers’ speed, braking, phone use and how fast they take corners. The drivers get a score and Amazon doles out bonuses to the safest drivers.
But safe driving isn’t putting packages on porches fast enough, it seems. Vice spoke to drivers in five states — New York, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia — who say their managers have instructed them to fool Mentor in order to meet stringent delivery quotas. The app can be disabled by putting phones into airplane mode or simply turning off a phone a few hours before the end of a shift. By driving safely for the first few hours, drivers get a high score, and then can speed through the rest of the shift without Amazon dinging them on safety points. Naturally, the drivers report feeling pressured to break driving laws once the app is disabled.
“Speeding was the main thing. They were harsh on drivers that weren’t going as fast as they wanted,” a former driver at the delivery station in Romulus, Michigan who quit in late April, told Motherboard. “I complied when they asked me to turn off the app because I didn’t want to cause friction. But it was a lot of stress, high blood pressure, seething anger and frustration.”
“This behavior is unacceptable and does not adhere to the safety standards that we expect of all Delivery Service Partners,” Rena Lunak, a spokesperson for Amazon told Motherboard. “It’s also misleading to suggest that this behavior is necessary – in fact, more than 90% of all drivers are able to complete their deliveries before the scheduled time while following all safety procedures.”
Amazon expects drivers to behave safely while also completing all of their deliveries — sometimes up to 400 packages — in a single 10-hour shift. However, Amazon places all the pressure and responsibility for safety on the drivers and the over 1,300 smaller delivery companies it partners with. And it’s a very dangerous job, not just on the road. Drivers face being beaten, killed, robbed, bitten by dogs and a whole host of other dangers that comes with the delivery game.
The entire report from Vice is an eye-opening look at what the people dropping off your packages are going through and definitely worth your time.