Amazon's gig-economy delivery service has just been launched in Australia.
It's a system that is vaguely reminiscent of Uber. Regular folk will get paid to deliver packages for Amazon. This is what Australians should know about it.
Amazon has brought its Hub delivery service to Australia just in time for Black Friday. It's interesting in that it's completely different to any other delivery service in Australia right now. You don't have to worry about packages being left on your doorstep or being greeted with a 'Sorry we missed you' slip when you were definitely home all day. This is everything you need to know about how this new system works.
Where in Australia is it available?
At the moment it is only available in Sydney and Melbourne.
How do you sign up?
Firstly you need to download the app and go to the 'let's drive' section. You'll need to answer some questions to determine your eligibility. You'll also need to select an area you can deliver in, watch some best practice videos and provide your tax and payment details.
Who is eligible to drive?
You need to over 20 years old, have an unrestricted driver's licence, a four door car and an ABN. You'll also need a smart phone to run the app.
Do you need insurance?
Yes, you need to have Compulsory Third-Party Injury (CPT) insurance for your vehicle as well as a liability policy for third-party property damage.
Amazon also provides Amazon Insurance Coverage for drivers. This includes Auto Liability Coverage, Third Party Property Damage and Contingent Comprehensive coverage. This is only applicable during the hours you're delivering for Flex.
How do you accept a job?
Drivers can set filters when it comes to the time of day they want to work and the stations they can pick up from.
The Flex app will show available offers or 'blocks' throughout the day that meet these needs, or you can choose to see all offers going in your area. If you see a block you want, you tap it and swipe to accept. If Amazon accepts you for the block you'll receive a confirmation message in the app and a reservation will be added to your in-app calendar.
You can also accept blocks ahead of the date of delivery. An orange dot will appear on the dates that you'll be delivering on.
Can blocks be cancelled?
You can cancel a block by going to the calendar and hitting 'Forfeit Block'. You need to do this at least 45 minutes prior to the start time.
How do deliveries work?
These start at a delivery station, which will appear on a map in the app an hour before the block start time. You tap 'I'm arrived' once you're there and a station employee will check your ID and take you to your packages.
You choose what order you want to deliver your assigned orders in.
If you're unable to deliver some packages you need to return them to the station by 10:30pm.
What's the payment like?
At the present time the rates for Amazon Flex drivers are unclear. What we do know is that they'll be flexible.
"Delivery partner rates are competitive. Our delivery partners are paid per delivery block (rather than per hour or per delivery). The delivery partner knows the estimated duration and payment for each block before they accept it on the Amazon Flex app," said an Amazon spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
This is what the FAQ currently says:
"When you see a block offering, you will see the pick-up location, estimated duration, and the amount we are offering to pay you for that block. The amount you see in an is the minimum amount you will be paid for completing a block: regardless of whether a block ends early. As an example, if you see $108 for a 4-hour block, this is the minimum amount you will earn."
Earnings are tracked in the app and payments are sent out every Wednesday via direct deposit and are supposed to appear in your account by Friday.
Much like Uber, there has been complaints regarding the Flex payment system overseas.
According to the AFR, some drivers have complained at taking home less that $US10 an hour after factoring in expenses such as car maintenance, petrol, tolls and parking costs. This works out to be about $14.50. That's less than the national minimum wage in Australia, which is $19.49.
If you're considering becoming an Amazon Flex driver, we recommend keeping all of your receipts (petrol, tolls, parking) and tallying the payment vs overheads to see if it's costing you more than you're actually making.
It's also worth checking if you are eligible for toll reimbursement through the app.
Have there been any other issues?
There have been reports of Amazon Flex drivers not having the same rights as full time delivery drivers due to a lack of job security, guaranteed hours or identification for themselves or their cars to prove they are working for Amazon. According to the AFR, one driver overseas complained about being fixed for parking in delivery zones despite delivering to nearby buildings.
Amazon Flex Australia will issue free high-vis vests for its drivers and we recommend you take one.
Splinter also published a letter from a Flex driver in 2019 that described block hours being cut from 4 to 3 and frustration around having to manually refresh the app for new jobs to come up. They further reported jobs disappearing within seconds and a shadow economy appearing in the network where drivers were resorting to using tapper apps, hacks and robots to secure blocks.
They also raised concerns around the lack of identification and how not telling customers their packages are being delivered by Flex drivers can result in them thinking their packages are actually being stolen or that someone shady is snooping around their property.
How do I find out more?
if you're interested, there's an FAQ section over on the Amazon Flex Australia website.