Not satisfied with being the top online retailer, Amazon continues to take steps to outdo themselves and keep competitors at maximum arm length. A vast inventory of products is not enough. They want to ensure that they get those items to their customers quicker than their competitors.
The Need For More Speed
In moving away from longtime delivery companies such as UPS that struggled to keep up with two-day delivery for Prime members, Amazon established its own logistics operation. A significant component involves a vast network of third-party delivery drivers that helps them keep a large fleet of vehicles on the road with packages delivered at breakneck speed.
By choosing contracted delivery people over employed drivers, the e-commerce giant has more money to put in their already overfilled coffers. Adding or subtracting drivers based on the peaks and valleys saves money over hiring them as employees.
It also shields the company from liability when accidents occur. Amazon may hire “delivery service partners,” but the parameters that they place around them closely resemble an employee-employer relationship.
Contractors Treated As Employers
They may not sign their paychecks, but Amazon provides the purported non-employees with specific delivery instructions via an app that also ensures that they are on schedule. The e-tailer also has strict mandates that drivers be on time for 999 out of 1,000 deliveries.
Yet, drivers are responsible for accidents that cause property damage, injuries, and death. A ProPublica investigation revealed that one and two-day delivery times carry serious consequences. In June 2015, Amazon delivery contractors were involved in 50 accidents that caused severe injuries and ten that included fatalities.
While 60 collisions may seem small, the small sampling may be a sign of a much larger problem, considering the significant number of people who choose not to pursue legal recourse.
For a company that enjoys a high profile, Amazon remains silent when it comes to delivery partners and any aspect of their operations. Delivery trucks lack any Amazon-related marks. However, they play a role in generating revenues for the companies. These so-called non-employee relationships may have high costs after all.