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Transportation Software Technology

Amazon Launches 'Flex,' a Crowdsourced Delivery Service 145

sckirklan writes: Amazon has rolled out a new service called Amazon Flex. It lets people sign up to deliver packages using their mobile phone and their car, earning $18-25/hr while doing so. Think Uber, but for package delivery. Their goal is to fully support one-hour delivery within certain cities. The service is available in Seattle to start, and it'll soon expand to Manhattan, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Portland. No news on what they think of bicycle couriers, but given their focus on being green, I'd imagine something is in the works.
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Amazon Launches 'Flex,' a Crowdsourced Delivery Service

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  • No News on bikes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:43PM (#50622101) Journal

    It's on the main page:

    Can I bike or walk?
    Currently we are only offering options to drive but in the future we may offer opportunities to deliver via bike or on foot.

    • I've seen Amazon bikes in Seattle already, though it was a bike with a big branded box and two tires in the rear, and the person riding it didn't seem all that experienced. Might've just been a test type thing.

      • In Seattle, the Jimmy John's delivery guys often ride bikes - especially in the U District. It'd be funny if I could order an Italian Night Club and a dozen batteries, then have the same guy deliver both!

        • In Seattle, the Jimmy John's delivery guys often ride bikes - especially in the U District. It'd be funny if I could order an Italian Night Club and a dozen batteries, then have the same guy deliver both!

          I did not know that Jimmy John's sold vibrators. But a dozen batteries? Either you like to keep busy or that thing is HUGE.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        I'm guessing Amazon hired the bicycle guys for their Prime 1-hour delivery experiment (which has been a few weeks now), and this is the next step. Not sure why they'd hire the bicycle guys and not the couriers, but perhaps they want to buy the bikes, but not the cars? Hard to say - they definitely bought (or leased) a bunch of trucks for Amazon fresh.

    • by GaryB2 ( 540494 )
      My $300 Amazonfresh order was delivered this past Sunday by a guy on a bicycle; hauling a trailer with three big totes on it.
    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      We get Amazon deliveries up here in Canada by girls on Rollerblades. I ended up getting involved with one of them, long story short, very high maintenance. I had to get in a fight with all of her exes, who were all kind of dicks. One of them killed me, but luckily I had an extra life. Anyway, it somehow all seemingly worked out in the end.

      The point I am trying to make is that this is a bad idea since Amazon delivery girls are bad news and attract really crazy exes. Having more of these girls around can onl

  • by Gregory Eschbacher ( 2878609 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:45PM (#50622123)
    It'll be interesting to see if they solve Uber's problem in California, where their drivers existed in a grey area of employment, with courts deciding they were employees (and thus entitled to expenses) rather than independent contractors. Interesting that the list of cities mentioned so far avoids California, even though SF and LA would be ideal cities for this. I'm guessing they'll construct their driver contracts with extremely thoroughly reviewed legal definitions to avoid having these drivers classified as employees.
    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      I emailed them asking to see their contract.

    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @06:30PM (#50622851) Journal

      Uber went too-far... They dictated the acceptable models of vehicles, their condition, where and when drivers needed to position themselves, etc., etc. Amazon has far less reason to dictate such minutiae, so they're far less likely to run into trouble.

      My concern would be more about security... In a gated community, instead of just the UPS/FedEx/USPS drivers needing to be allowed entry, now anyone and everyone can claim they're delivering a package... Any thief who want to case a building can conveniently sign-up as a delivery driver, and have a legitimate reason to be at the location, studying the security layout. The risk used-to be failure to check on *fake* delivery men, now the legitimate ones can be the criminals.

      • When you sign up to work for this, I would doubt that you get to restrict your deliveries to a couple of gated communities. Unless you're really hard up, very patient or preternatrally stupid, there are much easier ways of casing upper class houses.

        Deliver pizzas. Pretend you're from 'Mission Impossible'. Wear decent clothes and walk through the area.

        • Wear decent clothes and walk through the area.

          Oddly enough, gates and doors don't unlock themselves when a well-dressed gentleman walks by... You need a good reason to be granted access to a locked area.

          • However if you're wearing a suit, people do treat you much differently when attempting to gain access to certain areas. Maybe that shouldn't matter, but it does. Show up looking like you're from the inner city and say "I have a delivery for ... " and you'll be subject to endless scrutiny. Put on a suit and say "I have an appointment with ... " and you'll be ushered in and offered coffee.
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Gated community "security" is only effective vs opportunistic street crime, it's never helped vs a clever, determined thief. While almost all theft is the former, the latter is the guy who spends hours looting everything of value.

        The cops do know about Uber, and there's been at least one Uber driver arrested after taking someone to the airport, then going back to rob their place. Anyone doing anything that obvious will get busted, regardless of the delivery service.

        • Also, too, and neither... we live in the age of ubiquitous cameras and alarm systems. The household burglary rate has been in steady decline since 1994. [bjs.gov]

          A great number of breaking and entering complaints are idiot junkies looking for a fix, and the skilled cat burglar is a tiny minority of the throngs of dummies who spend half their lives free & high...and the other half with all bills paid, incarcerated & sober.

  • drones? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What happened to the drones? Oh wait? What? We're the drones?

  • This is the uber of the owner driver truck/van model, should be interesting to see what happens!

    • Hmmm. Common Carrier, Commercial Livery, competition with the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL. Add in liability insurance costs, possible theories about CDLs for certain products, and let's see how far this one gets. Novel idea.... but they battle titans and their supply chain.

    • This is the uber of the owner driver truck/van model, should be interesting to see what happens!

      I would love to sign up for this. Imagine, I could _get_paid_ to intercept packages and tamper with them. Install my malware right on people's new phones, loggers in their computers and peripherals, the possibilities are endless.

      I wonder if many NSA moles will be signing up as well.

      • You're gonna spend your days infiltrating peoples toilet paper and associated sundries? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

        I think the NSA workbook is just a bit farther along than this.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:50PM (#50622145)

    It's always nice to read about the high speed fiber, car services, delivery services, etc. that I know will NEVER EVER come to my small city.

    • Do you have high-speed internet? (I mean higher than slow-ass DSL)

      If so, then don't worry, you're doing better than everyone who's getting this. They're in Seattle. Seattle has no high-speed internet. [thestranger.com]

      So while these people might enjoy getting Amazon packages delivered to them in an hour, they're going to have a miserable time just browsing the Amazon website with ~128kbps DSL to make these purchases.

      I live in a rather rural area currently (a very very small town) and I have very fast cable internet, and h

    • Remember when Craigs List was San Francisco only?

      Let them work out the bugs.

    • It's always nice to read about the high speed fiber, car services, delivery services, etc. that I know will NEVER EVER come to my small city.

      Actually, it often works the opposite way around... Look at the biggest cities in the US and you'll find lower penetration of fiber than the less-populated suburbs. Or take the extreme case and look at most of Western Europe, where labor prices are so high that replacing the (slow) DSL networks just isn't economic.

      Plenty of sparsely populated suburbs in the US have F

    • Dude, nobody wants to live where I do, and we have UberX and will soon have fiber (if you're in the right neighborhoods). If you have even minimal density, it can be done. Maybe not as cheap as muni fiber, but we have a company walking into a Comcast + AT&T area and competing (and based on what my neighbors say, they are going to do really well). I'm already relishing the phone conversation where I tell Comcast to go to hell.

      The funny part is that this used to be Time-Warner, before the big trade. Ever
  • Insurance policy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Toshito ( 452851 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:55PM (#50622177)

    Check the insurance policy on your car before rushing to Amazon to offer your services... Chances are that this is considered as a commercial usage of your car and you're not covered.

    • And $18-25/hr? How is that supposed to give us our Everyday Low Prices?

      • If they get one driver to deliver a bunch of packages to a group of closely-located addresses which is 15 minutes away, it'll be a lot cheaper than paying FedEx $5-10/box.

      • by gnupun ( 752725 )

        What a ripoff! A taxi driver easily makes $60-100/hr, before his expenses (assuming around $2/mile and 30-50 miles traveled).

        So you get minimum wage for doing delivery work + using your car for Amazon's benefit.

    • Came here for this. It most definitely is use for commercial purposes.

      I would hope that Amazon has a way to mitigate that issue otherwise it's pretty cruddy to let people hang themselves without fair warning.

      Also, I wonder how USPS feels about this considering they expanded delivery to sunday for amazon.

      • Came here for this. It most definitely is use for commercial purposes.

        I would hope that Amazon has a way to mitigate that issue otherwise it's pretty cruddy to let people hang themselves without fair warning

        No doubt it's covered by Amazon's own insurance, or whatever the Uber line is this week.

    • Check the insurance policy on your car before rushing to Amazon to offer your services... Chances are that this is considered as a commercial usage of your car and you're not covered.

      It's all part of the monopolistic government-delivery service-insurance industry complex that is ruining the Western world.

      • by Toshito ( 452851 )

        It's all part of the monopolistic government-delivery service-insurance industry complex that is ruining the Western world.

        Of course... of course... Can you just stay still for a moment?

        Give me your arm... you will only feel a little prick... There, relax, it will all be over in a moment.

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @04:58PM (#50622197)

    8 hour shift is $200 max. Out of that comes fuel & vehicle wear and tear, IRS say 57c per mile and I would have thought 20 miles an hour was reasonable including stops etc so that $91.20 on an 8 hour shift. Add to that cost of capital of the car, insurance, accountants, other ancillary "run your own business costs" and I'm struggling to see you making $10 an hour.....

    • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @05:13PM (#50622285)

      Over here in the Netherlands delivery services mostly started using "independent contractors" (but not really) and that's about how it ended up, they were working for less than minimum wage.

      • They tend to be independent contractors in Australia as well. But I know they are making more than minimum wage, a friend works for Couriers Please. It's hard work but she seems to enjoy it compared to other things she has done.

        But what I don't understand is why you wouldn't just go and work at Maccas you would probably take more home with less stress.

        • But what I don't understand is why you wouldn't just go and work at Maccas you would probably take more home with less stress.

          Maccas... swell done.

          Some pimply-faced assistant manager might be on your ass at Maccas, so I don't know about the less stress angle, but some folks will take a cut in pay to be the boss.

          Even their own boss.

          • And I do get that. But at $10 an hour with having to put in your own capital..... I dunno, I kinda think I would prefer to offer lawn mowing services.

    • just like uber, thats why you dont use this to be a full time gig. you use this to supplement.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, that's the new way whether it's done by Uber, Amazon, even pizza delivery. It will soon be global except for intellectual workers, construction workers to some degree, and some others (police, etc).

      People always talk about minimum wage and hiking it.

      But the value of their work is less than the minimum wage because of technological advances. In this case, when drones can deliver the value of these delivery contractors might drop from ~$15/hr to $0.50/hr.

      Instead, the focus should be on price deflatio

    • The only way I see this being worthwhile is if you can plan it out so that you can swing by the Amazon warehouse and grab some stuff and deliver it to a place that happens to be along a route you're already traveling along, such as your commute home.

    • by Toshito ( 452851 )

      Add to that the cost of subscribing to a commercial insurance for your car.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @06:33PM (#50622873)

      vehicle wear and tear, IRS say 57c per mile

      Unless you are putting miles on a brand new luxury car, there is no way that normal wear and tear is going to be anywhere close to 57c per mile ... yet you can still deduct that much, which makes most of your actual income tax-free.

      I'm struggling to see you making $10 an hour.....

      Plenty of people would be happy to clear $10 an hour in a job that allows them to be out on the road with no boss looking over their shoulder. You live a sheltered life if you think $10/hour is a bad wage for someone with no skills.

      • A significant portion of the income would be taxed still. And call it sheltered if you like but the National Minimum Wage where I live is $17.25 per hour. So in my opinion $10 per hour for work in a first world country where you have to invest significant capital upfront to get the job IS a shit wage. Especially when you combine it with no guarantee of work so no guarantee of pay.

        Looking at numbeo the average monthly rental on a 1 bedroom apartment, not in the city is 802.14 per month. That means that t

      • I believe that 57 cents is for all costs. Capital investment, gas and other consumables, insurance (for commercial driving you need commercial insurance), maintenance and repair, miscellaneous costs, whatever. For me, it's still going to come well under 57 cents, but I drive a reliable small car.

    • 8 hour shift is $200 max. Out of that comes fuel & vehicle wear and tear, IRS say 57c per mile and I would have thought 20 miles an hour was reasonable including stops etc so that $91.20 on an 8 hour shift. Add to that cost of capital of the car, insurance, accountants, other ancillary "run your own business costs" and I'm struggling to see you making $10 an hour.....

      Though I'd suggest the 57 cents per mile reimbursement allowance is fairly generous for a courier with an economical auto, you are indeed onto the crux of the issue.

      Delivery contractors will be incentivized to cut corners on things like maintenance, replacement tires, oil changes, and so on.

      I've been in business when I had money, and when I did not. It is infinitely more difficult to do everything properly when you are poor.

      • Same. I work for myself and have had times when I have struggled to meet the bills. But I haven't been tied to an hourly rate which meant I had more that I could achieve when things go well.

    • "IRS say 57c per mile"

      Just because the IRS allots 57c/mile doesn't mean that it actually cost that to run a vehicle. I'm not saying you'll get rich driving your own vehicle, but if you're willing to drive a cheap fuel efficient car into the ground, you can make ok money being a delivery person.

  • At least UPS FedEx and the like to a certain extent vet their employees. I don't want some yahoo at my house delivering my packages, playing catch with them and god know what else (staking out my house - get off my lawn).

    Sure we can "leave a bad review" but by then it's too fucking late. And to what end - they get "fired" and I got broken shit - big deal, they just move on to the next Uber job.

    With the traditional services, you jack around - like the fedEx monitor delivery guy and get caught, you rea
  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @05:32PM (#50622425)

    I got the infamous You were not home for your delivery! Why were you not home for your delivery? Please visit the USPS site to reschedule your delivery! email this month. Well, if Amazon _really_ sent the package USPS like their order confirmation email said, USPS would know that I had a fraggin HOLD on my mail during the labor day week surrounding that day.

    I really, really, really do not want more creative delivery. I just want really stable, logical, predictable delivery. I dont want people on bicycles trying to find my address. Sweet Christ on a Pogo Stick, is that really too much to ask?

    • Then don't select 1 hour delivery...
      • by zlives ( 2009072 )

        be a better option if amazon let you choose which delivery method to use. My building security won't let just some asshole in but a uniformed delivery person with proper authorization acquired before hand can enter.

        • If you have building security, why don't they just sign for all packages and put them in a storeroom until you claim them? Just like the baggage claim at a hotel, really. You have to check out by noon, flight isn't until late, you leave the bags with the hotel and pick them up when ready to leave.

          I do this whenever I go to the west coast: schedule a redeye back east on Saturday night, go eat a nice dinner, pick up the bags around 9-10, head to the airport, enjoy a nice, quiet lounge, and spare myself a ni
        • "My building security won't let just some asshole in "

          Maybe you will need to alert them that you have a package coming within an hour from an unmarked/nonuniformed courier. Problem solved.

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      i don't think they are using pogo sticks but bicycles and maybe mono-cycle may apply. also having Christ based delivery system be pretty nice near water properties.

    • I just want really stable, logical, predictable delivery. I dont want people on bicycles trying to find my address. Sweet Christ on a Pogo Stick, is that really too much to ask?

      Send it to a business location then. Like your place of employment. I get stuff dropped there all of the time. The nice person in the warehouse signs for it, puts in in or under my mailbox. No fuss, no muss. UPS / FedEx loves that. No driving in the hinterlands to drop off a single package. Much easier to drop the pallet off and pick it up later.

  • The end user may get sued if the delivery driver gets in accident. As amazon can say they are a IC and we don't have to pay up.

  • by spiritplumber ( 1944222 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @05:48PM (#50622551) Homepage
    http://motherboard.vice.com/re... [vice.com]

    http://marshallbrain.com/manna... [marshallbrain.com]

    I shall just leave these here, eh?

  • by peter poulsen ( 3866637 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2015 @06:12PM (#50622709)
    As the subject says, this is 1930s depression all over again. Lots and lots of people being forced into dayjobs not having a stable income to support themselves or their families, and absolutely no securities if they get sick or somehow are not able to work. It might be ok now but just wait until millions of unemployed people are flooding into this area of work pushing the wages way down. In the 1930s people went to the dock where a foreman would handpick a lucky few. The rest could go home without any money for that day. Only difference today is that the foreman will be some app for your smartphone telling you if you got a customer or not... what a horrible life that would be longterm.
  • by ayesnymous ( 3665205 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @12:30AM (#50624501)
    Those Laser guys drive up in their own cars.
  • Umm, I'm really not interested in random/first-time/first-day/once-and-never-again drivers coming to my house, thank you very much.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:46AM (#50625349)

    I wonder how long it will last before some company, fearing for their income, is calling the cops for "illegal package delivering".

  • Great. More flakes driving around with my purchases, showing up late or not at all. If they can pay a random dude in a car $18-25, maybe they could just pay UPS/FedEx a buck more, and let them figure out how to do it.
  • I emailed them and here was their response.
    "When you come to our onboarding session and download the app, you can review the Terms of Service. "

    Not good if you want to study it before making a commitment. Also, if you down load it what if they force you into an NDA?

  • ...something else that will need to be made illegal posthaste lest it upset the existing package-delivery services unused to the idea of gasp! - competition... I give it a year before the crap begins to fly and governments and business demand shutting it down.

User hostile.

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