Amazon shoppers can send a $5 tip to their delivery drivers this December at no cost to the consumer thanks to a limited-time feature available on Alex-enabled devices and the Amazon app. Simply say “Alexa, thank my driver" to your device, and your delivery driver will receive a thank you note and a tip, according to an Amazon press release.
Amazon’s Dec. 7 announcement, which they’ve said is a way to thank delivery drivers, comes just as the e-commerce giant faces a lawsuit for misusing drivers’ tips. The suit, filed by Washington, D.C.’s attorney general, alleges that Amazon stole tips from delivery drivers “through a deceptive, illegal scheme,” according to a news release from Attorney General Karl Racine’s office.
“(Amazon) repeatedly told consumers, both in advertisements and during the checkout process, that 100% of tips would go to drivers when this was not the case,” the news release reads. “And instead of informing drivers of the changes to its tip process, Amazon changed the way it displayed tips to drivers in the app so that drivers could no longer see the amount each consumer tipped.”
NEW: My office is suing Amazon for stealing tips from delivery drivers through a deceptive, illegal scheme that made consumers think they were increasing drivers’ pay when Amazon was actually diverting tips to reduce its own labor costs and increase profits.— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) December 7, 2022
The suit, which cites a Federal Trade Commission complaint from 2021, also alleges that Amazon tried to cover up the “scheme” after drivers started asking why they were making less money.
Although Amazon paid $61.7 million in a 2021 settlement, the new lawsuit alleges that the company has “escaped appropriate accountability.”
“Nothing is more important to us than customer trust,” Maria Boschetti, an Amazon spokesperson, told CNBC in an emailed statement. “This lawsuit involves a practice we changed three years ago and is without merit — all of the customer tips at issue were already paid to drivers as part of a settlement last year with the FTC.”
Given Amazon’s reputation for how it treats workers — some drivers have had to urinate in bottles to save time — the company’s $5 thank you campaign was met with a mixed reception online.
Instead of Amazon giving customers the option to tip the Amazon delivery guy 5 dollars, why not just pay them more?— Rob Van Krampus (@JaimsVanDerBeek) December 8, 2022
On r/technology, Redditors responded to the news by saying that Amazon should pay its drivers more rather than relying on tips.
“I would be happier if Amazon would just pay their drivers more without having to make their customers do this…. but (the $5 tip) is certainly easy enough,” the thread’s top comment reads.
In a 2021 report from Motherboard, multiple Amazon delivery drivers said that they sacrificed their safety to meet high demand during the holiday rush, with one driver describing his experience as “hell.”
“Some drivers run their entire routes and buckle their seat belts behind them so they won’t have seat belt infractions” from Amazon’s tracking and monitoring app, a driver told Motherboard. “It’s a lot of getting around safety measures that Amazon has put in place. When package counts were lower, it was easier to not have to circumvent those safety things.”
Despite the difficult holiday working conditions, some drivers responded positively to Amazon’s $5 tip initiative, which will continue until 1 million drivers have received thank yous.
@elijahhh471 “Alexa, thank my driver!” #AmazonSavingSpree #amazon #flex #delivery #amazonflex #delivery #amazonmusthaves #fyp ♬ original sound - Elijah 💎
In a popular video on TikTok, an Amazon delivery driver named Elijah raised awareness about the campaign and shared his experience after receiving a $5 tip from a customer.
“Alexa, thank my driver a million times over!” Elijah says after tipping his own delivery driver.
The five drivers who receive the most thank yous will receive $10,000 bonuses on top of their tips and $10,000 donated to the charity of their choice.
Cheapism has reached out to Amazon for comment and will update this article if and when we hear back.