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‘.
I’ve been doing Amazon Flex for nearly 3 years 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 | 2- Use the technology | 3- Always check the flex app’s routes | 4- Amazon flex automated tapping machines | 5- Update your amazon flex app | 6- Parking tickets when delivering for Amazon flex and how to avoid them | 7- Don’t forget the essentials | 8- Using a storage box | 9- Record your mileages for HMRC | 10- Dealing with payment and other Amazon Flex problems | 11- Non deliverable and returned parcels 12- Map of Amazon Flex depots UK | 13- Maximum number of hours or days delivering for Amazon flex in one week | 14- Loading your car for Amazon Flex | 15 – Amazon flex mystery shopper test
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 2021 vers.
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. Use the technology:
After your car, your phone is the next most important thing when doing Amazon Flex.
Some drivers like to use a cheap phone to do flex with. This is a false economy. A better idea is to use your normal phone, or a good phone and insure it. If you drop it, or it comes to any harm you can send it off and someone will fix it for you. Or if it goes missing, you can get a new one.
Using a new phone (2019) Google Pixel compared to my older, a once state of the phone (2017) Moto G5 plus, I found the following:
- Scans are averaging maybe 4-15 seconds with the old phone. 2 seconds maximum on the new phone.
- Map rendering is quicker. The stronger the processor, the quicker you go onto map view. A slow phone means slow loading time and more time messing around rather than getting the job done. GPS rendering is quicker and the whole thing is a lot smoother.
- Mobile signal quality is better. Nothing worse than your signal dropping out and you having to take photos and ring back deliveries at the end of your shift. Although now, you can download maps for your area. Dropping signal is not ideal and will only slow down your navigations.
Due to more operating frequencies, more expensive phones operate across a wider band of frequencies. Cheap phones operate across maybe 3 4G frequencies. The new i Phone 12 operates across 31 seperate 4G frequencies.
It makes a big difference…..
When your signal drops, your navigation drops also, which can turn a normal 3.5 hour shift into a real hair pulling nightmare.
Nowadays, I use and insure my main phone which has quickened things up significantly.
I can claim some of these costs back as a sole trader.
I think it cost me £50 last time for 12 months insurance. Link below.
3. Always check the App’s routes:
**Update** – The apps routes HAVE improved. No doubt after this, and the feedback through the app, they realised it totally took the piss and changed it. You do get the odd point way out, which can lead to a couple of extra miles or more than 20.
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 that is sometimes wrong.
Amazon app does not always suggest a ‘linear journey’.
To start my round, I check the View Route before I begin scanning the parcels. You need to check for: The points that are outlying by a long way. When you’ve got to deliver to ONE point 20 miles away from the others. Maybe the whole route is like this…. Maybe the route is all in one cluster and one or two outlying points. You need to look at these.
If they’re going to make it the route inefficient, you need to raise it with the supervisor and get those parcels removed before you start scanning.
Once you’ve viewed the route and not rejected it, check the points are navigable logically from 1-finish. If they’re not, identify where you’re going to have to make changes.
4. Amazon Flex Tapping:
Some 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.
5. Update the Amazon Flex App regularly:
Even if you’re not delivering, keeping the Flex App up-to-date is a good idea.
They update or release the new App on a Sunday/Monday.
Unless your updated to the newest version, the app will automatically sign you out.
Keeping the App updated will mean you get notifications about Amazon Flex through your phone. These may be about higher rated blocks or an increased number of routes or offers, or any other updates to the service that Amazon Flex cares to pass you.
Not updating the app will mean you’re signed out and won’t receive notifications, even on blocks you may have accepted from the period before ie. telling you you’ve got a pick-up scheduled etc.
6. Parking in TOWNs when delivering for Amazon Flex:
This is when the job starts to get hard. You’re not provided with any official kit or vehicle, and to parking attendants, you appear to be just a civi.
Many Amazon Flex drivers find themselves getting parking tickets.
Here are some general rules of thumb when parking/delivering in TOWN.
1) Have a sign in your window to indicate you’re delivering. It may not make any difference, but if you come to contest, that and a load of parcels in the back will suggest you’re there on business.
On the PUBLIC HIGHWAY:-
Double yellows: 20 minutes to deliver, although, this varies from local authority to local autority. If you’re not seen to return to your vehicle and move it within 20 minutes, you can get a ticket.
Parking bays: If you use the parking bays, you have to pay or park within the free parking restrictions (after 8pm, Sundays etc.).
Red Doubles/Bus Stops/Taxi Ranks/Disabled Parking/Zig Zags: Instant ticket if the police or a warden happen to pass your vehicle.
More road markings you need to avoid are here: – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/560aa6c7ed915d035900001a/the-highway-code-road-markings.pdf
On PRIVATE PROPERTY:-
As long as you’re not clamped, if you get a ticket, it’s just an order to pay, which you can ignore.
3) To contest tickets with local government; you’re going to need proof of contract, delivery note or invoice. This means the specific addresses and screenshots of the Amazon app for those deliveries. Again, bear in mind that Amazon support are NOT GOING TO HELP YOU. You need to do it all yourself. If you can satisfy them that you’re a bona-fide delivery driver operating within the rules, your appeal will be dealt with in the same way any unfair ticket would be.
[If you do get a ticket whilst doing Amazon Flex deliveries: You need to go to Itinerary > List > Take a screenshot of the completed addresses.
This is your evidence that you’ve been delivering to those addresses in the course of business. Go to the local council website. Enter your ticket details. You’ll be given the choice to pay or appeal. Go to appeal. Enter the reason you were given a ticket and enter the evidence you were there delivering].
Mikes’ Parking Tip: If you’ve got a precinct/’mall’, use that to park for all your in town deliveries. They have a drop off space for goods inward. The gaurds are ok, and unless they’re real jobsworth’s, they won’t give you any sh*t no matter how long you park there.
Some Parking reference materials:-
7. Don’t forget the essentials, come prepared:
It’s easy to get caught out and find yourself running out of cards or forgetting to put them in the car.
Have them. They are free. If you do run out, writing on the back of a petrol receipt doesn’t look very professional and may go missing, like the parcel you’ve just delivered.
Don’t get caught out. It’s an easy thing to forget.
Likewise the charger: Your round, if it’s 4 hours is going to take 40%-60% out of your battery. If you use an iPhone, it’s going to be more.
If you plan to do additional routes back to back, charger is essential.
It’s best to start the day with a fully charged phone if you expect to be doing deliveries.
8. Using a BOX for letters and bookboxs:
In the back of your vehicle, keep a fold-up box. Like a filing box. Smaller parcels, turn them round, face them forward and put them in the box.
That way, when you come to a stop, instead of having to look round the floor of your vehicle for small boxes which have become airbourne as you travel between points, they’re all there, neat and tidy in the box waiting to be delivered!
9. Record your mileages:
You’re not employed by Amazon. You’re a free operator, and as such you need to deal with your own income and expenditure and submit a ‘profit/loss’ statement to the HMRC annually.
The main expenses part of this is going to be in the claims against your vehicle, ie. for usage and wear-and-tear.
You can calculate these using receipts from fuel, garage bills etc. or you can use the Governments Flat Rate.
Record your mileages, multiply it with the HMRC flat rate to calculate your vehicle expenses. Set that against your payment for each block. That will indicate your gross profit.
10. Dealing with Problems:
Called support > Email support
Email support are a lot more useless than phoned support. The majority of the time, they’re located in Bangladesh, have limited English skills and will do their UTMOST to give you an AUTOMATED response.
Doing a round and contacting support on the phone, the support agent will give you a PERSONAL response dependant on your problem. They listen, and will generally fix things off-the-bat.
Dealing with email support, you may find yourself getting the same AUTOMATED response for days, if not weeks. Especially if it’s a more difficult question.
I contacted support a number of times on email with a payment problem. I did a blog called – Amazon Stopped Paying me. Because the problem was above technical understanding of email support, they tried to fob me off with automated responses. After weeks of getting no-where, I posted the blog link and a description of problem on Amazon Flex Reddit Drivers Group. https://www.reddit.com/r/AmazonFlexDrivers/
It got picked up by one of the technical guys stateside, and the problem was solved.
Amazon Flex Email Support: [email protected]
Amazon Flex Telephone Support: +448081013553
Jeff Bezos: Whilst it’s debatable how much ‘Jeff’ actually reads these, there’s a strong consensus if you have problem which requires an ‘elevated response’, you should copy [email protected] in on messages to support.
11. Bringing back/Not bringing back/Non delivery:
You don’t get any points for bringing parcels back. If they’ve been successfully scanned and are part of your itinerary, you’re expected to deliver them. All deliveries are expected to be attempted a minimum of once and a contact made by phone or text.
If you attempt once, then don’t bother to make contact by phone or text, that’s a black mark.
If you attempt once, then make a call, arrange something, or re-attempt the delivery later on that’s looked on as standard practice.
A lot of the time, a re-attempt at the end of the route can result in a successful delivery.
If you continue to bring back parcels which are standard ‘recipient not required‘, rather ‘recipient only‘ or OTP, you will be ‘soft blocked’, ie. receive a lower frequency of offers or only offers rejected by other drivers.
Rather than take parcels back, if you think you’ve got too many parcels for your route, or you’re unable to deliver for whatever reason. Just chill out, don’t rush between points, deliver at normal speed. If, when you’ve finished, you’ve ‘run over’ your delivery slot. Re-attempt any left over parcels at the end of the block, (within reason). If you end up going over, contact support.
Tell them your block has run over and as long as your last parcel was delivered 1/2 hour plus later, they’ll issue you with an ‘Adjustment’.
Rules are: Attempt all. If it’s not possible to find the property or deliver safely, contact the customer by phone or text.
You don’t want to take anything back.
12. Map of Amazon Flex Depots UK
Amazon Flex operates from a number of specific Flex depots or logistics depots. As well as that, it contracts from Morrisons and Prime Now locations.
These are now incorporated into the app. You can see exactly where they are on this…
Map of Amazon Flex Depots.
Also, there is a list of Amazon Flex depots courtesy of Reddit.
13. Maximum number of days/hours allowed working for flex in one week
This is unconfirmed by anything but driver experience and communication with Amazon employees.
The maximum number of days working for Flex logistics is 6.
The maximum number of hours permitted delivering for flex logistics, under normal circumstances (not Christmas, Black Friday etc.), is 24.
You can work additional blocks, Prime Now or Morrisions, but the maximum number of hours and days working for flex logistics is 6 days and 24 hours per week and when we say a week, we mean Wednesday to Wednesday.
Other sections of the business, such as Prime Now and Morrisons have a rolling week. Logistics, it’s Wednesday to Wednesday.
14. Loading your car for Amazon flex – The best way (my way!)
Many people have different views on this, so we’re going to make some distinctions early on to save confusion.
There are two separate categories of vehicle you can register with flex, normal and large vehicles.
Average saloon or hatchback vehicle family car.
Normal routes with normal size parcels.
SUV, people carrier, covered back pick-up, van etc.
Longer routes with larger sized parcels.
I have a NORMAL size vehicle which I use to deliver for Amazon Flex. For the purposes of this article; I’m talking about an NORMAL size car. Loading vans and large vehicles has different considerations, yellow stickers delivery order etc. We won’t go into that. We’re going to keep it simple…
Here are the steps I take to load my vehicle for a standard LOGISTICS delivery:
The key thing here is to separate out your consignment into the different parcel sizes as they appear on your app.
For example. You’ll be given an address to deliver a parcel to and it will appear with information something like this
23 King Street
23 King Street
When you separate the parcel sizes out, when you go in the back of your car, you’ll know exactly where you can find that parcel size that corresponds to that address.
Sometimes when you get an address, it says something like
23 King Street
When it says that, just parcel, that means that that particular delivery is in it’s own supplied packaging.
For example, if you have a pack of Stella beer in it’s own packaging with a Flex barcode stuck on the side, it would appear as ‘Parcel‘. Only parcels that have been wrapped by Amazon in it’s own BRANDED PACKAGING appear with the parcel size.
Step 1. Unload the larger boxes onto the trolley
Step 1: Scan and unload larger boxes onto the trolley.
You can see and arrange the parcels in size order. Large parcels go at the bottom, medium and small go on top.
Step 2. Scan and load polybags
Step 2. Scan and load polybags
Polybags are not evenly shaped. They will not fit in with your other boxes. They don’t stack. You need to scan them and keep them separate from the other parcels.
Put them in a separate spot and deal with them separately.
Step 3. Load the larger boxes
Step 3. Load the larger boxes
From the trolley into the boot of your car. You can arrange them, like tetris blocks. You can get the most in. You can see the labels. You can make them easily accessible.
Step 4. Scan and load envelopes
Step 4. Scan and load envelopes
Keep the seperate from the bookboxes at the scanning stage. Envelopes are SLIM and will fit in your storage box easily. Fill it with envelopes first.
You can pick envelopes from the Amazon storage bags A HANDFULL AT A TIME, move them to your boot and scan them and deal with them there.
Step 5. Scan and load bookboxes
Step 5. Scan and load bookboxes
Bookboxes are like a large envelope. They can be bulky, they can be slim. They’ll go in your storage box after the envelopes.
Again, PICK UP A HANDFULL at a time. They’re not heavy. Move them to the boot of your car, scan them and put them in the storage box.
Once your bookboxes are loaded you’re good to go!
I’ve been loading my boxes like this for about 9 months.
At pick-up, it means that I don’t have to often go back and re-scan when I miss a parcel. Or when you do miss a parcel, you can just look in the area where it has that parcel size and locate the parcel there.
On the road, I can always find parcels the same size in the same place without messing around.
Less stress. More fun. Better organised.
15. Amazon Flex mystery shopper
Basically, the idea of this is to get you to ‘pass on’ an age verified parcel without checking the details.
When I say check the details, I mean check the details according to delivery policy.
That changes fairly regularly. At the time of writing this article, Amazon Flex’s policy on Age Verified Delivery read like this:
Age Verified Deliveries include items such as alcohol or knives, which can only be delivered to people over the age of 18. The Age Verified Delivery process requires you to ask the recipient for ID, regardless of how old the recipient looks to be. Suitable forms of identification include a government issued ID card, a passport, local authority concessionary bus pass or driving license, and the app will guide you through the process. Be sure to never scan or take a photo of the recipient’s ID, all you need to do is look at the ID and note down the customer’s date of birth into the app. The app will then tell you if the recipient is aged 18 or over, and whether to deliver the parcel or not.Your FLEXtra Mile Newsletter – 24 June
I’ve received one of these as well. An age verified mystery shopper audit.
If you ask me ‘who’ it was, it could be any number of people that week.
My advice is, knowing that some of the people weren’t exactly willing to show me the details:
Insist that they, (whoever that might be), show photographic ID, clearly showing their DOB and name on there, as well as their photograph. Driving license is the ‘go-to’ but other ID’s will do. If you’re unsure, check Flex help for details.
That’s my top 14 tips for Amazon Flex!
If you’ve got any comments, or you’d like to add your own suggestions, feel free below.