The Wyoming company is escalating the struggle between Amazon and its network of delivery partners, who are helping to get packages across the country from the warehouse to the door.
Amazon and Amazon Logistics, its transportation and logistics service, launched the Delivery Services Partners program in 2018 and billed it as a way for businesses to reduce profits from a seemingly endless stream of online orders by setting up their own company and hiring their own drivers.
Since then, several vendors have accused Amazon Logistics of setting unrealistic – and dangerous – expectations for drivers, controlling most aspects of independently owned operations, and overestimating potential profits for each business owner. Two suppliers in Oregon and one in North Carolina have sued Amazon over allegations.
Now Wyoming-based Fli-Lo Falcon and owner Max Whitfield go one step further with a class action lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Seattle on behalf of an estimated 2,500 Amazon delivery service partners in the United States.
“The purpose of the DSP program is to protect Amazon from its liability to delivery drivers and the public,” the lawsuit said. “Amazon, gradually.” [Amazon Logistics]exercises almost complete control over the DSP, but does not provide the required guarantees ”under Washington law.
Fli-Lo, based in Casper, Wyoming, has agreed to deliver Amazon packages in Sacramento, California, through a contract to run from October 2019 to May 15, 2021. After an initial investment of $ 10,000 and some time to train drivers through its own The Fli-Lo program began Amazon deliveries in January 2020 and did so until the end of its contract last year.
At peak times, Fli-Lo reportedly delivered approximately 350 to 400 packages a day for delivery. A typical fleet for delivery partners had 20-40 Amazon and Fli-Lo had about 80 drivers “on time” on their payroll.
Amazon Logistics set the departure route and monitored drivers as they worked, monitoring things like vehicle acceleration and braking, as well as how often drivers touched their phone while driving and whether they wore a seat belt. He would use this data to monitor the employee’s performance and to keep records of “minor offenses”, the lawsuit claimed.
This would reduce the driver’s performance if he left the package on one side of the customer’s door and not on the other if he could not deliver the package because the building office was closed or if he lost the cell phone signal – and consequently the possibility of tracking – .
Amazon Logistics would use these assessments and offenses to “assess” drivers and delivery partners and calculate whether the business owner will receive the bonus. Fli-Lo relied on this bonus to deliver on the profit it promised, but received only 5% of the weeks it ran.
According to the court file, delivery partners earned an average of $ 31,500 to $ 64,500, which is much less than the $ 75,000 to $ 300,000 profit that Amazon advertised when the program launched.
“[Amazon Logistics] uses subjective and opaque formations with impossible benchmarks’ to determine profits, the action states. “The scale of potential profit is a dream that is rarely achieved.”
Amazon has set “very aggressive time limits for drivers that can rarely be safely met,” the lawsuit says. These limits did not change if the driver had to move in a dense urban area or visit a high-rise apartment complex for a van.
Expectations were so strenuous that Whitfield often had to deploy a “rescue” driver to take over an “overloaded” worker who was already on the road.
Amazon spokeswoman Maria Boschetti said in response to the lawsuit that the company disagreed with the allegations and believed they were unfounded.
“Amazon is proud of the DSP program – it has created opportunities for more than 3,000 small businesses and led to 250,000 new jobs, and the vast majority of DSP owners tell us they appreciate being part of it,” Boschetti said. “While we don’t always do everything right, we continue to invest millions of dollars to support our partners and help them succeed.”
Whitfield declined to comment through his lawyer, Daniel Hume of Kirby McInerney LLP, based in New York.
It is not yet clear how many delivery partners could be included in the legal action complaint, but Whitfield and Hume estimate that there could be thousands. It aims to include U.S. delivery partners who have signed up after the second iteration of the Amazon program – DSP 2.0 – from 2019 to the present.