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Amazon's invitation to partner up with small businesses back in 2018 was one of the most talked-about business ventures at the time.

The retail giant enticed the public by promising them $300,000 a year in earnings by delivering packages. However, it was not as easy as people thought.

Amazon's Delivery Drivers Speak Up

In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg, a former military man from New Hampshire shared his story about how his investment in Amazon led nowhere.

Ted Johnson was one of the people who invested $10,000 to become one of Amazon's delivery service partners.

The retail giant promised to use its power to help the entrepreneurs get better deals on car insurance, leases for the blue vans, and classified ads, according to Fortune. 

The entrepreneurs got a fleet of Amazon trucks on the road with their invested money, delivering items. 

Also Read: Amazon Rivian Van to Use Netradyne 'Always-On' Surveillance Cameras Inside Vehicles for Safety

When the offer was first announced, thousands of people applied. As of 2021, 2,500 small businesses are partnered with Amazon, and they employ 150,000 drivers in the United States and other countries.

These businesses are captained by retired professors, military veterans, and construction contractors.

Johnson and his wife, Karen, leased 80 vans and hired 160 drivers. He translated Amazon's training materials into Spanish and hired immigrants to help with the company's labor shortage.

During his driver's downtime, he made them deliver the local food back while paying them extra. Amazon was impressed with Johnson's resourcefulness that the company sent him cameras to document his work.

Despite thriving in his business, the 56-year-old veteran found himself torn between making money, meeting the e-commerce's demands, and treating his workers fairly.

Ultimately, Johnson was forced to close his business due to loss, and he said that he is a casualty of a system that imposes very unrealistic demands, especially on the drivers who play a vital role in delivering packages to customers around the country.

Machines and Algorithms

For Johnson, Amazon's machines and algorithms that manage the operation should be blamed for its pressure on the partners and the drivers. 

Telematics devices, video cameras, and smartphone apps monitor the Amazon drivers' every move. Software dictates the number of packages that a driver should be able to deliver in a shift that lasts for 10 hours, which is a number that keeps increasing and is difficult to meet.

The system is built to maximize delivery efficiency and discourage drivers' hazardous behavior like texting while driving.

However, the algorithms usually get things wrong, and several delivery owners stated that it digs drivers for offenses they did not even commit.

The demerits affect the delivery contractors' report cards every week, and their pay depends on their score.

Bloomberg interviewed 15 delivery partners and two lawyers representing them. Most partners talked about the condition of anonymity because they are afraid of retaliation from the company, and almost all corroborated Johnson's story of unrealistic delivery expectations, dismissive attitude toward their concerns, and buggy software.

The working conditions are tough and unforgiving, according to the partners. It came to a point wherein the drivers had abandoned their vans and disappeared, according to Business Insider.

Johnson stated that they were treated like robots because Amazon is so data-driven that they don't know how to treat people with dignity.

Related Article: Amazon Delivery Partners Say They're Treated Like Robots Due to Tough and Unrealistic Standards

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Written by Sophie Webster

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