The two-day delivery option available to Amazon Prime members for just about anything they could possibly need is one of the biggest reasons that the company can continue getting away with hiking its subscription fee (which currently runs members $119 annually). Now, the company is working to implement one-day delivery, and that could spell bad news for its delivery workers.
On its earnings call on Thursday—during which Amazon reported record first-quarter profits—the company’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said that it is “currently working on evolving our Prime shipping program, which has historically been a two-day program, to a one-day shipping program,” according to CNET.
As CNET noted, Amazon already offers same-day and one-day delivery options, as well as a 2-hour delivery option with Prime Now, but it sounds like a single-day turnaround would be the new standard. And if this sounds like a ploy to get you to buy more shit—maybe even some shit you don’t really need—you would be correct. Olsavsky said the new option would “open up a lot of potential purchases,” which is definitely not wrong but also just one more way for Amazon to boost its incredibly bloated bottom line. Nice, right?
Amazon is reportedly already dumping money into the overhaul, “including $800 million in investments in the current quarter, starting in North America,” according to CNET. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment about the change.
While Amazon Prime users will no doubt enjoy the perk (whether or not we’re gouged for it with that ever-rising subscription fee), it’ll likely be a different story entirely for the company’s network of independent contractors on which Amazon is reliant for delivering packages through its Flex or delivery partner programs.
Two of these contractors recently shared alarming details about their labor conditions with our sister site Splinter, describing an already chaotic system of uncertain shifts and poor working conditions as becoming worse. One Flex contractor situated in the Los Angeles area told Splinter that delivery workers are “scared of asking for changes because they can get deactivated or fired easily. We all want big changes now... It’s sad we are treated like animals or robots.”
A little over a year ago, multiple Flex workers disclosed to Gizmodo that they worked overtime without additional pay in order to complete their deliveries and avoid being booted from the program, with one worker claiming Amazon “said it evens out because when you work a three hour block and finish in two they still pay you for three, but it doesn’t even out.”
Amazon’s delivery contractors do not have labor protections, they must pay out-of-pocket for the maintenance and wear on their own vehicles, and some who deliver for its Prime Now program have alleged that the company effectively steals their tips by using them to supplement their base pay—a controversial practice that is used by other gig economy companies like DoorDash. Meanwhile, Amazon just months ago managed to spin this already hellish labor environment as a funky new weight loss method.
Maybe Amazon could use some of the heaping piles of money it’s raking in to fix its busted ass delivery model and treat its contractors with a modicum of decency.