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 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:
**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 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:
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.
4. Updating the Amazon Flex App:
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.
5. Parking in TOWN 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:-
6. 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.
7. Using a BOX:
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!
8. 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.
9. 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. If I had not kicked up a stink, I would not have got the money I was owed, I would still not be being paid through that account now.
Amazon Flex Email Support: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon Flex Telephone Support: +448081013553
10. 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 twice.
If you attempt once, that’s a black mark.
If you do bring back parcels which are everyday, not ‘recipient only’, 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. Contact support.
For anything over 1 hour; tell them your block has run over and as long as your last parcel was delivered 1 hour plus later, they’ll issue you with an ‘Adjustment’.
Generally, you don’t want to take anything back.
So this is my Amazon tips top 10 for Amazon Flex delivery drivers.
If you’ve got any comments, or you’d like to add your own suggestions, feel free below.