Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My first experience with Amazon Flex

Amazon Flex is when you deliver items for the retailer, using your own car.

My amounts were different
How it works: Download their app and consent to a background check; you're good to go in a few days. This isn't offered everywhere, but Amazon is expanding rapidly, and this works in a lot of major cities. The night before my route, I accepted a block of time for the advertised pay. In the app, it says "3 hours: 8:30 - 11:30 AM, $54." Next, I arrived to the pickup location at 815, started scanning and loading packages. This took me about 20 minutes trying to load my sedan and not thinking ahead very well. After checking out with an attendant, the app's GPS started me on the route, making it the most time-efficient.

How it worked for me: My addresses were all within 2 square miles, but I wonder how much gas I burned up idling and running the AC. The current pay works out to $18 an hour if you complete the route in the allocated time. However, for my first delivery, I actually had until 9pm to deliver everything. I had a few issues so the actual delivery took me almost 6 hours, so I effectively made $9 per hour. My first issue was that I hadn't brought my car charger for my phone. Luckily my delivery route was only a few miles from my apartment, so I broke off and spent 30 minutes going to the house and rooting around in boxes to find it. My bad. The second issue was that I hadn't organized the packages when I received them. The attendees will tell you how to stack your morning stock so that the last items are packed in the furthest, but all bets were off when every package pretty much filled my sedan. The third holdup was a particular apartment complex spanned 3 different addresses, and had secured doors. I delivered 2 packages, waiting to be let into the buildings before remembering that everything for the complex was supposed to go straight to the rental office. Also, with 3 different addresses, that meant I circled back to it two additional times, wasting at least 30 minutes.

The final time-waster was that my morning scan was one package off from inventory. The attendees told me that was fine and that if I found out which package it was, I could manually add it to my route before delivering it. The kind people even showed me how to do it. Well, when I got to the end of the route, I finally realized which package was left over, but made the mistake of marking the last one I'd added as delivered, and the app closed the route. A closed route cannot be edited, and customer support can't be contacted except by email. So, I drove 30 minutes back to the warehouse to get an actual phone number to call for help, and made my final delivery.

My advice for Flex? Phone charger and extra battery. Next time, I will make quadrants where the passenger seat is 1st - 50th street, the rear passenger is 51st - 100th street, and so on. However, you'll have a different breakdown every day: maybe it makes sense to organize your deliveries by zip code. Lastly, get a help phone number from the attendees because the app either doesn't provide it, or only provides it while your delivery route is open. Unfortunately, I got a notice a few days later that a package wasn't received, but Amazon is open to letting me try again. All in all, I can recommend Amazon Flex as some great extra income that pays weekly.

Resources: I was worried about data usage, since my free phone plan ( limits me to 500MB per month. Luckily, one delivery route was about 40MB. My odometer says I used 60 miles, but the warehouse is 14 miles away, but I went to the warehouse twice. However, you'll use additional gas from idling and AC/heating. So, because of my mistakes and partially because of how the help/support function works (i.e. providing no phone number), I made out with roughly $9 an hour for delivery. However with this valuable experience, I will probably make closer to the advertised $18 per hour next time.

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