I had signed up for Amazon Flex months ago but after seeing ridesharing being taken over with worthlessness I decided to finally give it a try.
In Orange County Amazon offers 3 hour blocks so I took a block from 3 to 5 P.M. When I arrived at the facility I had to wait a couple minutes for an amazon employee to check me in. He gave me a loading dock number to back up to and so I moved my car to get started. Since it was my first time it took me a little longer because for some reason my app wasn’t working properly. I guess I wasn’t yet “activated” in his words and after a couple minutes the problem was fixed and I was on to scanning my packages.
The amazon employee was really nice and he helped to show me how everything was done. After all of that by 3:25 I was loaded up and on my way.
I had a total of 18 packages which to me seemed like a light load. I’ve heard people complain about getting too many packages and not having enough time to deliver them but with only 18 packages I felt like it was doable. Maybe I just got lucky because the loading dock next to mine had twice as many packages as mine had. Maybe they purposely gave me a light load because it was my first time or maybe I just got lucky. I guess I won’t be able to answer that til I do a few more shifts and have a chance to see what type of loads I get in the future.
I picked up in Buena Park and got sent to the garden grove area to do my deliveries.
Using the app
The Amazon Flex app is really easy to use. Scanning packages in and out is simple and takes just a couple seconds.
The Amazon Flex app uses it’s own built in navigation. I have to say that the navigation part is the only part that works less than expected. Though the app will give you proper directions it tends to be really slow and laggy. On an android phone the amazon flex navigation uses the built in text to speech engine so street names come out sounding weird and it makes it so you have to keep watching the screen while driving to make sure you don’t miss a turn because you can’t understand the speech half of the time.
I’ve heard many people complain about the routes that the Amazon Flex app will give them but I didn’t seem to have a problem with mine and it seemed to make sense so I have no complaints there.
The only issue I see in this situation where random people are randomly sent on different routes is that the lack of consistency makes everything take longer. UPS and Fed Ex drivers typically do the same route every day. This helps them get familiar with the area and apartment complexes on their route. Because of their consistency they are more efficient and their drivers know where to park, have gate codes that they use every day and also become familiar with their clientele, even to the point where they build friendships with people that they drop off packages to on a daily basis. This not only helps the drivers but makes a huge impact on customer satisfaction. This is the only flaw I see in Amazons system. I don’t mind stricter rules and policies if it means I can have a dedicated route every day. Letting drivers be full time drivers and hiring some back up drivers in case the main drivers are sick or have some other reason they can’t make it will be a much more effective approach. I often wonder how the people that work on this at amazon even got their jobs. These are very important details that will affect the experience for Amazon Flex drivers and Amazon customers as well.
Dropping off packages
Just like with food delivery, a lot of packages go to apartments. Apartment complexes can take a lot of extra time. It’s often hard to find legal parking and I had to drive around a few times just to find a way in to an apartment complex that was on my route. I did have to park in a red zone and put my flashers on. I am the type of person that likes to follow rules so I hate doing that but when time is money sometimes that chance is the only option.
I think Amazon should provide drivers with door magnets for our vehicles. Then we could have the same leniency as Fedex and UPS drivers. If people see that it is a delivery vehicle then it’s easier for cops to let things slide. Amazon does work with other companies for deliveries. I see ads all the time for companies hiring to be an amazon driver. The vehicles they use are marked with a magnetic Amazon sign and that makes sense.
It’s no secret that stealing packages off of doorsteps has been a rising crime lately since so many people buy things online these days. Pulling up to somebody’s house in an unmarked vehicle could look very suspicious to neighbors. Most people aren’t aware that Amazon has people in regular cars dropping off packages so it may look strange to them. We should atleast be provided with shirts and hats to help identify ourselves as an Amazon delivery driver.
Proper attire is a must. Even though I am a law abiding citizen and a father I admit that I may look a little intimidating. My main passion is creating hip hop music, I look and play the part. Only problem is that the way I typically dress makes me look like someone that is up to no good. So walking up to peoples houses like this can easily get the cops called on you, especially in middle to high class neighborhoods. I had people looking at me and neighbors watching me through their windows to see what I was up to. Honestly I knew this would be an issue but just to see how people would react I chose to use my regular attire and test my theory of racial profiling just so I could come here to talk about it so others don’t have the same issues.
None of these people can really be blamed though. Everyone wants to protect their belongings and most good neighbors are on the look out for bad people in their neighborhood. I do the same thing in my neighborhood and for my neighbors. I don’t like shady people hanging around. I am armed at home and won’t hesitate to put down a potential robber, rapist or murderer and I would expect others to feel the same way. Once you are on someones property you are a possible target if you look even the least bit suspicious. Of course a properly trained individual won’t shoot without a proper analysis of the situation but therebarebthose out there that will shoot just because they are scared.
The reason I bring this up to all of you is because I feel it is very relevant. Without us having proper identification then we will always be questionable. I would think that it would be in Amazons best interest to provide delivery drivers with the items necessary to properly identify themselves. Then eventually people will see amazon cars everywhere and will know what the company is doing and there will be less weirdness about the whole idea. On top of all of that it’s almost like free advertising for them so to not do this is would be just silly.
Dropped off my final package
Getting close to my third hour with 20 minutes to spare and I finished my last delivery. If I would have had no downtime when picking up then I would have finished my 3 hour block in just a little over 2 hours. I drove about 30 miles from beginning to end. Except for the apartment stops it wasn’t bad at all.
It would be nice to think about Amazon Flex as a possible way to replace a full time job but unfortunately there isn’t enough work available. Blocks just randomly become available and you have to be ready to accept them right away before somebody esle does. As of right now it’s not something that you can count on day to day. The good thing is that unlike Uber and Lyft they don’t constantly hire new drivers. I feel like if I play the game and hang in there then other drivers will stop trying to do it and there will then be enough work available to hopefully count on Amazon Flex as a daily gig. These companies always over hire at first to make sure demands are met and then slowly let things work themselves out by waiting for people to quit and eventually the demand vs driver availability will even itself out. Unlike lyft and uber who keep constantly hiring I feel that Amazon is taking a much better approach and in the end this will result in driver satisfaction rather than complaints.
I really liked driving for Amazon Flex and I believe it will grow and get better with a little time. The service is still brand new so it will take them some time to figure out how to perfect it. I’m going to hang in there and I can’t wait to try ot again. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and find an available block today.