HomeBlogAmazon FlexRecent Surge in Amazon Flex Terminations

Recent Surge in Amazon Flex Terminations

Many Amazon Flex drivers complain because they are terminated by a “Bot.” Often this results in a number of false positives. Some recent articles highlighted the struggles of dealing with Amazon Seller Central. Bloomberg reported that Amazon uses algorithms to hire and fire partners.

Amazon became the world’s largest online retailer in part by outsourcing its sprawling operations to algorithms—sets of computer instructions designed to solve specific problems. For years, the company has used algorithms to manage the millions of third-party merchants on its online marketplace, drawing complaints that sellers have been booted off after being falsely accused of selling counterfeit goods and jacking up prices.

Amazon Flex drivers are often the most aware that the algorithms run the entire system.

But the moment they sign on, Flex drivers discover algorithms are monitoring their every move. Did they get to the delivery station when they said they would? Did they complete their route in the prescribed window? Did they leave a package in full view of porch pirates instead of hidden behind a planter as requested? Amazon algorithms scan the gusher of incoming data for performance patterns and decide which drivers get more routes and which are deactivated. Human feedback is rare. Drivers occasionally receive automated emails, but mostly they’re left to obsess about their ratings, which include four categories: Fantastic, Great, Fair or At Risk.

Most people would be surprised to learn that over 3 million people in the United States have downloaded the app to make deliveries. Subsequently, Amazon has a huge pool of potential workers. This means that the expectations for Flex drivers can be quite onerous.

Video cameras, telematics devices and smartphone apps monitor drivers’ every move. Software dictates how many packages a driver should be able to deliver in a 10-hour shift, a number that keeps creeping up and can be difficult to meet. The system is designed to maximize efficiency and discourage hazardous behavior, such as texting while driving. But the algorithms often get things wrong, several delivery owners said, dinging drivers for offenses they didn’t commit. These demerits affect the report cards the delivery contractors receive each week. The lower the score, the less Amazon pays them.

Many Flex drivers give up because they find it so difficult to explain their situation. Interestingly enough there is the “Algorithmic Fairness Act” that is floating around Congress. The main crux of that act is that workers need a way to reverse decisions. Often times when you are dealing with the Amazon Bot you are guilty until proven innocent. In the case of multiple account violations, you might be asked to prove a negative. You have to prove that you do not have an additional account. I have seen a number of false positives with this system for both Amazon FBA merchants and Flex drivers.

It is extremely difficult to get Amazon override a performance metric that was made by one of the algorithms. You often need to hire professional help to get an error fixed in their system.

Amazon’s engineering culture has hardwired executives to trust the software more than human beings, and when delivery firms try to dispute the algorithms’ errors, they say, the company takes note but typically declines to adjust their performance score. Johnson said he paid a lawyer to write letters to dispute the machine-generated grades, but said Amazon seldom over-rode an error and he gave up challenging false negatives. Another delivery partner said he has disputed false alerts about drivers not wearing a seat belt and showed Amazon video to prove the point but failed to persuade the company to correct his score card.

If you are struggling to write your Appeal, contact us for a free consultation. We deal with the algorithm each and every day and we can often cut through the red tape to get your Appeal accepted.

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