Amazon is a notoriously frugal company, its thrifty nature so pervasive that the company has turned doors into employee desks. But there’s also a darker side to the way the company is so tightfisted with its spending — which, to be sure, it likes to paint as a customer-friendly good thing. If we’re not blowing money or wasting cash on things like expensive furnishings, in other words, we’ll have more money to pour back into the company, into better products and value for customers.
And then there’s the other side of that coin. We’ve all seen the Amazon stories that intermittently come out in the national press, about everything from the low wages of some Amazon jobs to spartan conditions in some warehouses. Now here comes Business Insider, out with the results of an investigation that found drivers of Amazon-affiliated courier companies being forced to use delivery trucks that are in, let’s say, less than perfect condition. Closer to “shoddy,” actually.
For its report, BI talked to people like Sid Shah. He managed vehicle inspections and repairs for DeliverOL, an Amazon-affiliated company, and worked out of an Amazon facility in Aurora, Colorado. Per the report, “He described vehicle upkeep as ‘pathetic’ and said it was a constant battle to get funding authorization for repairs. Workers were regularly forced to drive trucks with expired registration tags, bald tires, missing side mirrors, jammed doors, broken lights, and other problems, he said.
“‘I had brake pads and brake discs on one van that needed to be replaced. I called (DeliverOL) and said someone is going to die in this truck if they drive it,’ Shah recalled. ‘They forwarded me to some maintenance guy who said, ‘You don’t need new brake pads, they aren’t under warranty.'”
According to another driver, if you deliver packages for the company you’re sometimes “riding on bald tires in trucks with broken mirrors and messed up doors.”
News of conditions like these comes on the heels of reports about conditions for the workers themselves, which we included in a post here. Like expectations being so high to get packages delivered on time that some drivers have reported feeling too harried to pull over for a bathroom break and have been peeing in bottles.
About this new report related to trucks — it’s important to note, as BI does, that Amazon has a new program it’s touting which is meant to provide things like new state-of-the-art delivery vans to small business partners, plus ongoing preventative maintenance services, among other things.
Even more important to stress, though, is the fact Amazon’s position is that the maintenance of trucks which deliver its packages is not Amazon’s responsibility. Per BI, “Amazon’s delivery system pushes that burden onto the delivery companies it hires.
“Instead of employing drivers directly, Amazon transports packages to customers using drivers employed by UPS, FedEx, USPS, and a number of smaller companies that manage their own fleets, like TL Transportation, Second Samuel Transportation, and DeliverOL. Amazon calls these smaller companies delivery service partners.”
Those partners do work out of Amazon facilities, and Amazon supplies with the necessary things they need to do the job, like navigation software, delivery routes and, of course, the packages. There’s also a code of conduct handed down from Amazon. Suppliers are supposed to give their workers a “safe and healthy work environment.”