On Delivering for Amazon Flex

Photo credit: Public.Resource.Org, CC BY 2.0.

Today’s must-read essay comes from Alana Semuels, at The Atlantic:

I’m sure I looked comical as I staggered down a downtown San Francisco street on a recent weekday, arms full of packages—as I dropped one and bent down to pick it up, another fell, and as I tried to rein that one in, another toppled.

Yet it wasn’t funny, not really. There I was, wearing a bright-yellow safety vest and working for Amazon Flex, a program in which the e-commerce giant pays regular people to deliver packages from their own vehicles for $18 to $25 an hour, before expenses.

Flex is a lot like Lyft/Uber/Postmates/TaskRabbit/etc.: you sign up through an app, accept jobs as they come in, and try to complete them without spending so much of your own time and money that they become unprofitable. (Semuels notes that drivers are often supposed to deliver Amazon packages to locations that don’t have free parking, for example. Do you pay to park or risk a ticket?)

To me, the most interesting part of this essay isn’t the ways in which Flex is a bad gig — we already know the downsides to these types of app-based jobs, after all. Instead, it’s the ways other Flexers are making it work, and the long-term implications of this growing self-employed, delivery-based workforce.

Read the whole thing and let us know what you think.

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