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Amazon is apparently firing its delivery drivers based on an algorithm

Rage against the literal machine.

amazon delivery driver
Image: KnowTechie

One thing that has helped Amazon and Jeff Bezos grow at tremendous rates is the use of algorithms. From its ecommerce presence to delivery drivers, Amazon uses algorithms to automate many of its processes.

While this means that it can accomplish many tasks quicker than humans, it also means that the all-knowing algorithms care very little about the human element. These automated processes might work well for finding listings that don’t meet guidelines on Amazon.com, but when dealing with the very real human element of delivery, they start to fall apart.

But, it seems Amazon doesn’t really care about that, with an Amazon delivery reportedly being fired by the algorithm. The report comes from Bloomberg, which details Stephen Normandin, a Phoenix delivery driver who received an automated email letting him know he had been fired.

Amazon’s all-seeing eyes monitor everything drivers do, from how long a delivery takes to where they place the package upon delivery. Drivers are given a score, ranging from Fantastic, Great, Fair, to At Risk. Take too long? That’s a ding to your score. Place the package in the wrong place? That’s another one.

Another driver said her rating plummeted after getting a nail in her tire. She eventually raised the score, but it was too late, the algorithm decided she wasn’t performing up to standard, she was fired. Another driver had a story regarding a locked apartment complex. Again, fired.

The kicker here is that it seems it is nearly impossible to talk to anyone from Amazon. Add to that the fact drivers have to pay $200 just to fight something they will probably lose, and you can see how terrible this whole system is.

Bloomberg interviewed 15 drivers and former managers, and possibly the biggest takeaway comes from how Amazon feels about all of this. From Bloomberg, “Amazon knew delegating work to machines would lead to mistakes and damaging headlines, these former managers said, but decided it was cheaper to trust the algorithms than pay people to investigate mistaken firings so long as the drivers could be replaced easily.”

Rage against the literal machine.

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