EMAILED ON October 16, 2019 BY Wes Schlagenhauf

Amazon quietly fires 3 of its major delivery firms following a spotlight on fatalities

Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images

Amazon has terminated its contracts with third-party delivery firms Inpax, Sheard-Loman, and Letter Ride following damning reports by BuzzFeed News and ProPublica that documented deaths connected to the 3 contractors.

Amazon’s move to wash its hands of the firms will reportedly put more than 2k people out of work in 8 states — all while dodging any liability. But the reports raise the question of whether the pressure Amazon puts on its drivers to meet their speedy delivery goals — offering next-day and even same-day service — could be partly to blame.

Amazon: High goals, low barriers

The e-commerce behemoth started rolling out its network of US delivery fleets in 2014. Since then, Amazon drivers have been involved in over 60 serious crashes — at least 10 of those resulting in fatalities.

Amazon’s delivery promise has drivers reportedly delivering north of 250 packages a day. During peak holiday periods, drivers say the number could rev as high as 400, according to Business Insider. 

To meet Amazon’s goals, drivers say they were forced to skip meals, ordered to pee in bottles, and coached to speed without wearing a seatbelt to deliver more packages in less time.

Amazon’s lofty expectations would have even a trained getaway driver spinning their wheels, yet drivers for these firms are given only a few days of training before hitting the road, with generally little to no delivery experience required.

Why isn’t Amazon held accountable? It’s all in the contract

Other than dictating routes for third-party drivers, Amazon prides itself on keeping its hands off the wheel when it comes to labor and operation logistics — claiming the company is just in it to lift up entrepreneurs who want to make a dent in the delivery game.

But, when workers are exploited or people are hurt in crashes, the third-party companies take the heat, while Amazon walks away from the wreckage virtually unscathed.