Stephen Normandin, a contract driver for Amazon, was shocked that a robot fired him. According to him, Amazon punished him for the factors ahead of his control that intercepted him from distributing his delivery orders, such as locked apartment complexes, bad weather, distorted selfies, etc.
Stephen Normandin said:
” I’m an old-school kind of guy, and I give every job 110 percent,” he said. “This really upset me because we’re talking about my reputation. They say I didn’t do the job when I know damn well I did.”
Kate Kudrna, an Amazon spokesperson, told Bloomberg,
“We have invested heavily in technology and resources to provide drivers visibility into their standing and eligibility to continue delivering, and investigate all driver appeals,”
Bloomberg has interviewed several former Flex drivers. Driver’s statements posted on the Internet reveals that an opaque system leaves them doubting as to why their ratings dropped, or their accounts were terminated and resulted in firing them from their jobs.
According to Neddra Lira, a former driver told Bloomberg that her ratings dropped after returning delivery packages to the warehouse due to a nail in her tire. Over some time, she attempted to gain her rating to “great” simply to get her account terminated. She filed an appeal, but Amazon refused to budge.
The Flex feature of Facial Recognition also faces issues. Flex driver forums are full of comments from people who claim Amazon terminated their accounts because their selfies did not “meet the requirements for the Amazon Flex program.”
Image recognition algorithms appear to have validated the photos. People who lost weight or trimmed their beards, or got a haircut have had issues.
Amazon, the eCommerce giant or as we know it, the world’s largest online retailer, has been using algorithms for years to manage millions of third-party merchants working with the company.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, believes decisions made by machines are quicker and more accurate than people. It gives Amazon a competitive advantage and reduces costs, as well.
Amazon started the gig-style Flex Delivery service back in 2015, where the army of drivers hired on a contractual basis became an important part of the company’s delivery machine. The flex drivers ensure same-day delivery whether they deliver packages or groceries from Amazon’s Whole Foods Market chain.
When Uber and Lyft gigs dried up during the pandemic, flex drivers kept Amazon humming by shuttling packages for a pay rate of $25 an hour.
Back in December 2020, the Flex program became such a crucial part of Amazon’s logistics program that they even offered bonuses to Flex drivers if they worked at least 20 hours.
Now, coming forth to the intricacies of the flex program, the moment Flex drivers sign-on, they discover that algorithms are monitoring their every move.
Did the Flex drivers get to the delivery station exactly when they informed them they would? or did they follow the route precisely as the prescribed window? The algorithm tracks everything. Later, the algorithm scans the incoming data and decides which driver gets more routes or gets terminated.
Amazon ignores the fact that drivers experience unfair treatment and is trusting robots more than its employees. The company has already been deploying robots for the safety of its employees.
Meanwhile Amazon in Canada,
Amazon will open a new warehouse in Alberta that will use a robotic system to assist in the picking, packing, and shipping of basic items such as books, electronics, and toys.
The company claims to create more than 1000 part-time and full-time jobs. However, the warehouse will open next year.
In the past week, Amazon also said about making its second renewable energy investment in Canada. The company will purchase power from a massive solar farm in Alberta.
Amazon has already signed a deal with Travers Solar to buy up to 400 Megawatt of electricity.