Amazon drivers are being told to turn off their safety apps in order to hit delivery quotas, report says

GettyImages 1230935623 An Amazon.com Inc. delivery driver carries boxes into a van outside of a distribution facility on February 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. - Jeff Bezos said February 1, 2021, he would give up his role as chief executive of Amazon later this year as the tech and e-commerce giant reported a surge in profit and revenue in the holiday quarter. The announcement came as Amazon reported a blowout holiday quarter with profits more than doubling to $7.2 billion and revenue jumping 44 percent to $125.6 billion. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Amazon has faced criticism over its extensive surveillance of workers and its poor safety record. Patrick Fallon/Getty Images
  • Some of Amazon’s contracted delivery companies have been telling drivers to switch off its safety app, Vice reported.
  • The app, called Mentor, monitors their driving and assigns a safety score that ties into bonuses.
  • Drivers said they’re being told to turn it off because driving safely doesn’t square with their quotas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon drivers are being told to turn off a mandatory safety app in order to hit their quotas, according to a new report from Vice.

Vice obtained texts sent to drivers by Delivery Service Partners (DSPs) – companies which are contracted by Amazon to carry out its delivery operations. The texts told drivers to switch off the app Amazon uses to monitor safety, called “Mentor.”

One DSP in Detroit told a driver to sign out of the app less than five hours into a ten-hour shift. An Atlanta-based company told drivers they should only log onto Mentor for “at least 2 hours – no more, no less.”

Current and former Amazon drivers told Vice this is because it’s impossible to fulfil their quotas while adhering to the app’s safety rules on things like speeding. Mentor gives drivers a rating of how safe their driving is, and this score feeds into a bonus system.

Amazon awards bonuses to DSPs based on how well they deliver their packages, plus incentives for the number of packages delivered, but the DSPs only qualify for bonuses if they hit an averaged target safety score on Mentor.

“It’s really a Catch-22 situation,” a former Amazon driver from Buffalo, New York told Vice. “Either you turn the app off so you can deliver faster, or you leave it on and deliver slower and don’t get your bonuses,” she added.

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In a personal essay for Insider, an Amazon driver said Mentor gives a maximum score of 850. They said two years ago, drivers were expected to hit an average of around 550. But now, that has gone up to 700. They added if a driver’s safety scores start to suffer, they’re told to log in at the beginning of their shift, then hand their phone over to another driver that tends to get good scores.

On top of the stress of finding the balance between hitting quotas and driving safely, the app also has glitches that sometimes penalise drivers unfairly. The app monitors “phone distractions,” such as drivers checking their cells when they shouldn’t be. But drivers told Vice that sometimes, if their phone is just jostled, or moved, the app logs that as a distraction.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider. But a spokesperson told Vice: “This behavior is unacceptable and does not adhere to the safety standards that we expect of all Delivery Service Partners. It’s also misleading to suggest that this behavior is necessary – in fact, more than 90% of all drivers are able to complete their deliveries before the scheduled time, while following all safety procedures.”

Amazon has come under fire in the past for the quotas it gives both its contracted drivers and its salaried warehouse employees, as well as the level of surveillance it exerts.

Last month the company publicly apologized for a tweet it sent to Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan after he referred back to reports of workers peeing in bottles to avoid having to stop for a bathroom break.

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” Amazon tweeted. The Intercept then published a leaked memo that showed Amazon was aware of drivers not only urinating in bottles, but also defecating in bags.

The company announced in March it would be installing cameras in vans equipped with AI software to detect safety breaches like speeding, as well as looking for signs of tiredness, such as yawning.