- Drivers for Amazon delivery partners usually have 170-350 packages to deliver per shift.
- Insider interviewed three drivers who expanded on the difficulties of such a fast-paced job.
- The drivers confirmed many things that have been reported before, included peeing in water bottles.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Before stepping down as CEO this year, Jeff Bezos built the Amazon empire around being customer-obsessed. But there's a lot that goes into getting packages delivered in two days.
Sometimes, it comes at the expense of human dignity, three workers told Insider in new interviews, expanding on themes workers have previously detailed in recent years. The three workers drive for various Amazon Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs, around the country. Insider has verified their identities and jobs but is withholding full names at their request over fear of retaliation by the company.
The drivers say usual package loads can be anywhere from 170 to 375 packages a day on a regular shift, not just during Prime week. At times, their scheduled stops can come out to more than 190. For busy shifts, the drivers confirmed what others have said before: that peeing in water bottles is sometimes just a part of the job - not unlike many other drivers have complained about over the years to stay on pace and meet high delivery quotas.
"I resort to peeing in bottles, and women urinate through funnels into bottles, just so I'm able to get done with my deliveries," Valerie G, a driver for one of Amazon's Delivery Service Partners (DSP), told Insider. "Those conditions are extremely unsanitary, and we are there with all those packages and our own urine and bodily fluids. That's unsanitary for the customers receiving the packages."
Another driver previously told Insider's Kate Taylor and Avery Hartmans earlier this year that having her period at work was a "nightmare," and she had no choice but to change her pad in the back of the delivery van.
"It just seems like a giant war between us and Amazon that Amazon started," Ryan, another driver for a DSP, told Insider. "Ultimately, Amazon will win because they have the power to let go of and control anyone: Driver's, DSP's, anyone."
Amazon has long denied the water bottle claims, at times finding itself in tussles with activists and politicians. "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us," the company's PR account tweeted to Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan in March.
The company later walked back the comments, saying: "We owe an apology to Representative Pocan" The tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers."
Reached for this story, an Amazon spokesperson told Insider that Amazon supports delivery drivers taking breaks as needed, and the company is working with its delivery partners to "find solutions to these issues."
"We support drivers taking the time they need to take breaks in between stops and drivers can use the Amazon Delivery app to see nearby restroom facilities and gas stations," a spokesperson for Amazon told Insider." Our routes are scheduled to include break and lunch times, which still allows over 90% of routes to finish earlier than the planned shift length. Our drivers, like others across the industry, do face the challenge of finding available public restroom facilities and we continue to work closely with our delivery partners to find solutions to these issues."
Still, the issues persist even as different drivers take over vans between shifts, the drivers said.
"I have driven vans that smelled so bad of urine and have found bottles full of urine in the vans before," Valerie said. "The worst part is being forced to eat in the same van due to the time constraints."
Drivers say it's 'impossible' to take breaks for food and water
Another driver told Insider that taking proper breaks and staying on time for deliveries has become such a struggle that he has to eat and drive with one hand.
"Managing proper breaks is impossible because of the extremely high package count and stops, it makes it impossible to pull over to eat, so often times I drive and eat with one hand - it feels very dangerous, especially driving the huge box trucks," Ryan said. "I'm extremely fed up and mentally broken from my time here. It changed my personality."
Such high pressure appears to be having an impact on Amazon's worker turnover rate. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Amazon's turnover rate was nearly double the industry average. That may not be a surprise for some experts, who say the effects of hard physical labor with little to no reward can be extremely detrimental for someone's mental and physical health.
"If you work really long hours and you're not really getting fulfilled, and you're not getting the kind of rewards that helps you sustain a really busy lifestyle, you get physically tired," Michael Leiter, a psychology professor at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, told Insider. "Stomach problems, cardiac problems, all that kind of stuff, starts building on people, then they're stuck in that state. So physically and mentally, it's very hard on people."
Drivers say they've voiced their concerns, but no action is ever taken
"I've voiced a ton of concerns to my managers, but it's basically venting," Ryan said. "I know they don't technically have the power to make my concerns, Amazon's problem because like driver's, DSP's are expendable and replaceable as well."
Ryan said he's tried to figure out ways to make the job better for him and his coworkers but thinks Amazon and his DSP don't mind high churn rates.
"They don't mind a fast turnover because when people stick around, they start to learn too much about it. They start to acquire injuries," he said. "They start to get frustrated and talk."
An Amazon driver for a different DSP previously told Insider's Hayley Peterson he was given no sympathy from his supervisor when he cut his finder during his delivery route. The manager "advised him to drop them [packages] all off before returning to the station or seeking care."
The sources for this story agree: "DSPs have become careless. We are disposable to them," Valerie said. "They treat us without any dignity and very inhumanely.
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