Ursula: ‘Amazon’s goodwill towards its drivers apparently lasted one day’
For all of one day, Amazon decided to cover tips given to their delivery drivers through Alexa.
The way it worked (past tense) is you say to your device, “Alexa, thank my driver,” Alexa will respond with, “Glad you enjoyed your most recent delivery. Since you shared your appreciation with your driver, as a special thanks this holiday season, your driver will receive an extra $5 at no cost to you. This promotion is for a limited time only.”
“The act of corporate goodwill by Amazon apparently ended in less than a day, because it was limited to the first million dollars. And they hit that limit pretty quickly,” Ursula Reutin said on the Gee and Ursula Show.
“The second part of the story is on that very same day, the Washington D.C. Attorney General sued Amazon for stealing drivers’ tips,” Ursula continues. “So I’m gonna go back to last year when federal regulators ordered that Amazon pay back $62 million worth of tips that they withheld from drivers.” This was between 2016-2019.
“We have received more than one million “thank you’s,” concluding the promotion offering $5 per “thank you” to eligible drivers,” Amazon said in a statement over the weekend. “We are thankful for the enthusiastic response to the promotion and the appreciation shown to drivers.”
“Amazon had been advertising that flex drivers could earn anywhere from $18 to $25 an hour, plus 100% of the tips that they earn,” Ursula said. “They also promised customers that if you tip, 100% of your tips are going to be passed on to their driver. But that’s not what happened.”
Ursula said that if a driver worked for one hour, and customers tip $6, Amazon would only pay the driver $12 to equal the minimum promised $18 an hour.
The D.C. attorney general wants Amazon to pay drivers for tips given that he believes are owed to them.
“They also say customers, you and I, need to know where our tips are going,” she said. “And this suit is about providing workers the tips that they are owed, and telling consumers the truth.”
Amazon said that this case involves a practice that was changed three years ago.
“Why [is it that] every time when the employer and or the company is caught with wage theft, or is caught with taking of tips, it’s only just a quick news story?,” Gee Scott commented. “But when there’s a time when there’s one employee embezzled, say, $5,000 from a company, it’s leading news on KIRO Radio.
“Why is it a big deal when one person takes from a company, but it’s never a big deal when the company takes from its employees?”
Ursula responded by saying part of the reason is that it’s really easy to cover employee crime.
“‘Lululemon employee accused of stealing more than $15,000’ – it’s gonna get clicks because a lot of people like Lululemon. It’s an employee, how dare they, you know, it’s easy to cover. It’s low-hanging fruit, but with the corporate thing, the company usually has some good PR statement.”
Andrew “Chef” Lanier, the show’s producer, said he thought all of this was part of a crisis of accountability in our country.
“We assume that if you put a legal document between a thief and a victim, it’s no longer a theft. Because if you are an LLC, or if you are a business, if you are a giant corporation, you are organized as a business. And so you call it creative accounting, or it’s an algorithmic decision, or it was a payroll error. And $62 million dollars worth of theft suddenly becomes a mistake and to wispy instead of theft.”
Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.