Top 10 Tips for Amazon Flex drivers

Top 10 Tips for Amazon Flex drivers

Christmas is approaching and it is the season to be on Amazon looking to take advantage of lightening deals and let someone else take the strain of delivering your freshly ordered goods to you.

They say that in the logistics business, the last few miles of delivery are the most expensive.

Amazon pays drivers from it’s own logistics department to complete deliveries that final few miles.

This may be through their paid or contracted fleet, or it may be from the self employed gig delivery workers otherwise known as ‘Amazon Flex‘.

Amazon Flex

I’ve been doing Amazon Flex for nearly 12 months now.

This is my top 10 tips for Amazon Flex Drivers.

In my experience, these are the tips that are going to make you a better driver.

    • 1. Check your insurance:

      Amazon has it’s own fleet insurance on your vehicle from the moment you pick up your first parcel until you’ve completed your round.
      If you crash within that period, (and you don’t have your vehicle covered for ‘commercial purposes‘), Amazon’s Fleet policy will cover you. You can read more about this in the Amazon Flex contract.
      The first thing you need to be aware of is this:- EVEN THOUGH AMAZON COVERS YOU FOR THE PERIOD  YOU DRIVE FOR THEM, YOUR INSURANCE MAY BE INVALID IF YOU HAVEN’T DECLARED AN ‘ADDITIONAL JOB’ TO YOUR INSURER.
      When you take your policy out, it will ask you for your main and any additional jobs.
      There are instances where drivers have had crashes whilst driving for flex, their insurer has found out, and they’ve had their cover cancelled.
      When it comes to declaring it, it’s better to declare it as a ‘retail’ company, rather than a ‘delivery’ company. Apart from the fact it will save you around £600, it’s also the truth.

    • 2. Never trust the App’s routes:

      Amazon Flex Route Before I start, let’s clarify two things 1) Route: The order taken between points 2) Navigation: The navigation in terms of exact streets and roads taken between each point.
      Induction videos and Amazon ‘Flextra Mile’ and other literature and releases from Amazon will tell you ‘the best and most efficient way to deliver is by following the route suggested by the app’. Sure, the Navigation between the points is the best and most efficient, it’s just the Route it selects between those points is wrong.
      Totally disregard the Route the app gives you. It’s wrong. It makes driver’s journey much longer in terms of time and distance.
      Amazon app does not suggest a ‘linear journey’. It suggests a journey with travel between two or more locations or districts or neighbourhoods; whilst not delivering all the parcels in that neighbourhood, it will send you to the next, then back again to deliver some more. It can do this anything from 2-4 different neighbourhoods, never delivering fully in that area, sending you somewhere else, then getting you to come back.
      To start my round, I check the waypoints and have in my mind the order in which I’d like to deliver them.
      I select my Route and let the app do the Navigation.

    • 3. Amazon Flex Tapping:

      amazon flex tapper swiperSome people used to do this to pick up the released blocks first. Some still do…. It’s basically sitting there and tapping on your phone’s ‘refresh offer’s until an offer comes up, then tapping to accept it.
      Some people even made machines and contraptions to do this automatically https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1odALfOIrg.
      This may sound like a great idea. The obvious drawbacks are
      1) Amazon doesn’t like you using automated devices. If they spot ‘irregularities’ with your app activity, they’ll exclude you from the program immediately.
      2) It doesn’t work out financially. As you can see from the video, the guy’s just accepted a 1 1/2 hour block in Springfield. To me, I wouldn’t even get in my car for a 1 1/2 hour block. Not unless it was Christmas.
      3) Blocks may not be at LOCAL depot. It may be a REGIONAL depot 40 miles away. If your soft-blocked and only receiving short notice offers, you’ve now got 30 minutes to drive 40 miles for a 1 1/2 hour block.

To Winwick

To Winwick

Just for a look around.

The tea rooms were open, but I arrived a bit late.

Whitwick Hall
Whitwick Hall
Whitwick Rectory
Whitwick Rectory
Whitwick Church of Michael all saint

This is a very small village, with some nice houses.

I made my way back using the gated byways.

Extinction events in Ashby st Ledgers

Extinction events in Ashby st Ledgers

Ashby st Ledgers, seat of the ‘gunpowder plot’ of 1605.

I cycled through there yesterday on the way to Daventry.

Ashby st Ledgers Manor
Ashby st Ledgers Manor

This is the manor house where the plot took shape.

It was gifted by William the Conqueror around the dates of the Norman conquest to one of his subjects, Hugh de Grandmesnil.

It’s a manor house in a classical style.

The gunpowder plot was planned in the building you see straight ahead, the gatehouse, set back in privacy from the main house.

When the plot was uncovered, as the seat of a criminal event, it passed to the ownership of the crown and since has had various owners, including the pension fund of British Airways!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashby_St_Ledgers 

Asheby st Ledgers
Asheby st Ledgers

Crop sprayer

The rest of the village is picture postcard style, apart from this crop sprayer I noticed after inhaling noxious chemicals being blown through the hedge.

Co-Op farmer sprays his grass field
Co-Op farmer sprays his grass field

No wonder we have no wildlife in this country.

Mass extinction event

As you can see this guy is coating a grass field with chemicals, sanctioned by the UK’s largest landowner, Co-Op farms who own the fields and the land around Ashby st Ledgers.

The death and destruction of the UK bird and animal population, (insects in particular), is a crisis.

It’s a crisis that’s not being dealt with, or acknowledged.

I shared a facebook post on this the other day.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/mass-extinction-life-on-earth-farming-industrial-agriculture-professor-raj-patel-a7914616.html

The broken capitalist system is sending the planet into an irreversible death spiral in the need for our constant insistence on ‘growth’.

The death is spreading.

In times to come…

Maybe a shared vision of the future like that that inspired the gunpowder plotters to do what they did isn’t there anymore. The unstoppable machine of capitalism will gobble all the resources and turn the planet to desert.

We’re cathartically drifting toward that future.

I suppose with the benevolent dictator model, there was always a chance we we’re going to aspire to a greater goal than the acquisition of more money and wordly goods.

I think that time has passed.

Braunston -> Yelvertoft

Braunston -> Yelvertoft

Step 1: Braunston to Watford Locks

Two flights of locks. One of them staircase locks at Watford.The other Braunston Locks. One that I’ve done a few times now.

Braunston Locks are very tiring. And I was kind of happy when I found that due to water shortages, the Watford flight closed at night when the volunteers went home.

Being staircase locks, only one boat can go through at a time. And the CRT like you to book ahead, (which I didn’t).

During the day, the CRT prefer to keep it manned. Previously, at night, they let the public traverse the locks as they wished. Due to water shortages, this practice stopped, and passing through the flight is only possible with the aid of the lock-keeper.

I woke up around eight, and got going just before nine. Entering the first lock at 8.50am. Luckily, they are good and fast and I made it through the whole flight in around an hour. Apart from my button getting stuck under the gates at the top lock, all went without event, and I set off on my way again.

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Flecknoe -> Braunston

Flecknoe -> Braunston

People do moor in-between, but there’s no road access, so it’s useless to me.

Fairly picturesque and popular.

Old Braunston

At the moment, I’m at Braunston, ancient Bargee village.

All things barge are here, chandlers x 3. Marina x 1. Canalside pubs x2. And some other shops and services connected to the trade.

I was moored here for the winter on the Rugby arm.

This time I’m on Oxford arm.

There’s no piling and I’m moored up on pins but it’s a much better mooring for a number of reasons.

Not least because:

  • The towpath isn’t overgrow. On the Rugby arm, the trees hang down and you have to crouch to pass them. This is for about 20-25 yards.
  • The trees don’t overhang. They stand up straight, not grow up over my solar and cast shade over the boat.
  • Parking is better. Not on the A45 which you have to cross daily.
  • Quicker into town. Not by much, but a shorter walk into Braunston.
Mooring in Braunston
Mooring in Braunston

Views are better.

Got a better all over ambiance certainly compared to mooring on the Rugby arm, but also in toward the village. It’s nicer here because you’re out in the country.

Will have to turn Bonnie round in due course, as she’s pointing in the wrong direction.

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Fitting flexible solar panels to a narrowboat

Fitting flexible solar panels to a narrowboat

This is a short guide to installing flexible solar panels to a narrowboat.

Background

I’ve lived on my boat for 2 years. When I first started, I was located in a Marina. Everything was laid on, showers, water, electrical hook-up.

It reminded me of a high-rise flat for boats. After my boat was painted, I took it up on a journey to the most Northern and Southern reaches of the UK canal system.

It was called Bonnie Journey, in the name of the boat. You can read about it here.

It included some cycling, which I had to postpone due to injury. Whilst I was waiting for my injuries to recover, I stationed myself on the Kennet and Avon.

Kennet and Avon

Burbage wharf
Near Burbage

As visitors to this waterway will know. Kennet and Avon Marinas are few and far between.

I decided to try continuous cruising. When you’re continuous cruising, all your energy has to be self generated.

You’re entirely ‘off the grid’. In the winter, this was a case of starting the engine.

As the sun began to shine, in the run up to spring, I began to think of the advantages of solar.

After my boat was fully painted, I decided that the next job to be done, was to fit some solar panels, and take advantage of the free energy!

I’m now in a position to do that.

Researching

Most people are going to find that this is the most lengthy part of the process.

Before you shell out large sums of money, you want to ensure you’re getting something which is fully compatible with your needs.

The first question you need to ask yourself before fitting solar is –

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Calcutt Boats -> Flecknoe

Calcutt Boats -> Flecknoe

It’s amazing the power a little post on social media has…

Imagine.

My little problem with invoicing at Calcutt boats magically disappeared! Simply paid the bill and left.

Social media and complaining

I was discussing this with my respondents the other day. If you’ve got a grievance with a company these days, often the only way to get someone to take notice of you is posting some nasty stuff about it and spamming it out on social media.

They no longer man the phones any more. You’ll be lucky to get a response by letter.

Working for people like Amazon, I know this to be true.

They will just ignore you till the cows come home. Nothing you can do.

Once you start blowing them up on social-media, it’s a different story, you get a response pretty quick.

Same with this Calcutt Boats thing. One day there’s a problem. Post it on social media and it disappears.

Magic!

Flecknoe

I’ve moved the boat a little further down. To Flecknoe.

This is out in the wilds.

The nearest real shops are Daventry, which is 5 miles away.

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Weedon -> Calcutt Boats

Weedon -> Calcutt Boats

Calcutt Boats

Supposedly to get a Eberspächer fitted, which on arrival, they claim to know nothing about.

As well as that, they’ve given me an invoice with a cost from my last visit. That was on the 8th July 2017.

An invoice that was paid at the time. On my querying it. The guy Matt, went off and brought out another invoice.

This time the invoice, which was again paid at the time, had been “entered it into the system wrongly”.

For this reason. It was up to me to pay it again.

Calcutt Boats dodgy invoice
Calcutt Boats dodgy invoice

Whether they’re trying to scam me out of money here, I don’t know. I do have eyes. That’s certainly what it looks like to me.

Blacking

Apart from that I’ve had some blacking done.

Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Hull Blacking at Calcutt Boats
Fitting Anodes at Calcutt Boats
Fitting Anodes at Calcutt Boats

This and a service, which, to be honest, I could have done anywhere.

Eberspächer

The main reason for bringing the boat here was to have it priced for the fitting of an Eberspächer.

Something which was agreed in emails months before.

When I arrived. They claimed no knowledge of it.

Painting a narrowboat water-tank

Painting a narrowboat water-tank

** Update 27th July, 2018.**

After coating with Vactan
After coating with Vactan

During last summer, the heat of the sun on the hull and the cool of the interior of the water-tank caused a lot of the coating, previously discussed in this post, to flake off.

This left flakes of toxic residue in my water and made it unsuitable as a potable water source.

As an alternative to climbing into the water-tank and getting myself covered in toxic bitumen water-tank paint in the blazing hot summer sun, I decided to try another suggested solution for the coating of watertanks on narrowboats, that would be VACTAN.

Vactan

A water based product. Instead of bitumen, it applies a latex anti-corrosive coat to the watertank.

The advantages of VACTAN vs Rylards Water-tank coating

VACTANRYLARDS
PreparationRemove lose materials and residuesRemove lose materials and residues
Number of coats12
Time between coats1hr8hr
Drying time1hr7days
TypeWater basedBitumen based
DatasheetDatasheet

Below, there are 5 steps to coating your water-tank.

To amend that.

  1. Strip the loose and decayed metal (#1)
  2. Apply VACTAN (#4)
  3. Flush the residue (#5)

If you decide to use one of the other coatings, then you need to take the steps below.

I’ve made a short video about my experience in applying VACTAN and some of the practical observations about using the product.

Painting a narrowboat water-tank, old version

This little story is about how to paint a narrowboat water-tank:

There’s 5 steps

  1. Strip the loose and decayed metal
  2. Work surfaces down to bare metal or non-corroded paint
  3. Apply Iron Oxide paint to areas still rusting
  4. Apply bitumen blacking paint
  5. Remove paint residue

Time:

Stripping and prepping (rusty tank) – 2days
Painting (1 primer and 1 top) – 2 days

Total – 4-5 Days

*This is doing it fast. If you want to paint the tank in two halves it’s going to add a day.

Cost:

Paint – £15-£20
Brushes – £15 -£20

Total – £40

Step #1:Strip loose and decayed metal

Tools:

Shave-hook – Triangular headed scraper

Triangular headed scraper
Triangular headed scraper

Water pump

rule il280p pump
rule il280p pump

 

Narrowboat watertank rust
Removed a few shovel-fulls of rust.

Located right at the front of the boat, the water-tank has been rusting for a while. The paint has come off over time leading to corrosion and a build up of sediment at the bottom of the tank.

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