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How Amazon Chewed Me Up and Spit Me Out

Updated on October 21, 2017

I had steady work for 4 months, then they cut my pay by 25%.

When I first started working for Amazon Flex, about 6 months ago, it was great. Fill up your car with packages, be your own boss, finish in your own sweet time. Get paid every few days, I even had my choice of time slots. It was all handled within the Amazon Flex app, I never talked to a Manager, or had to worry about anyone breathing down my neck. I felt like Santa Claus, everyone was always happy to see me walking up to their door, package in hand. Flexibility and job satisfaction at its best, right?

The pay was good too. I was making $72 in 2-3 hours, almost every single day, for 4 months. Here's the catch: I was working as an "Independent Contractor," so I had to pay my own taxes, while also absorbing all of the risk. 10% off of $72, for taxes, you might have $65 left over. Add gas, a little wear and tear on you car, maybe you have $60. Add the commute time, to and from the station, and maybe you would get the promised, "$18-25/hour," which wasn't bad! I was planning on doing this indefinitely. Then they pulled the rug out from underneath me. Once they had a large enough workforce, they figured something out; There's a lot of people who will do it for less money.

Eventually, Amazon had enough people willing to work for less.

They kept hiring people, and more and more of them accepted less money for the same work. Within a few weeks, they gradually reduced the pay amount from $72 to $54. I was upset, no one likes a pay cut, but I tried it anyway. Twice the work for just slightly more money? Sure, why not? I did two shifts, instead of just one. I was out of the house for 7 hours and made $108. $108 divided by 7 hours is $15.42/hour. Not only is that barely minimum wage, but with taxes, gas, wear and tear, insurance, and no benefits, it's actually much less. Risk my car and my safety for less than minimum wage? No, thanks! They bait-and-switched me from a decent job, to a job no longer worth doing, and lost my respect in the process.

Amazon is taking advantage of people, many of whom don't understand that they will owe taxes, on that income, at the end of the year. They have color-coded "urine health" charts in the restroom, but they obviously have no concern about their worker's soon-to-be-dehydrated wallets. They certainly don't remind you to set aside 10% for Uncle Sam (or more, depending on your tax bracket).

These Independent Contractors are just one accident away from potentially owing more money than they have earned all year. With the added expense of maintenance, gas, tires, auto repairs, and medical expenses from potential injuries, they might be better off washing dishes.

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