Amazon Flex is the relative newcomer to the “gig economy” scene but shares many similarities with rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft. There are some key differences, though, and they help shape drivers’ experiences with each program.
Delivering Packages vs People
The obvious difference is that Amazon Flex requires you to deliver packages, while ridesharing is about delivering people. But beneath the surface, there are some important ramifications.
Firstly, are you introverted or extroverted? Some rideshare programs, in particular, encourage interaction between drivers and passengers. This is great if everyone enjoys the social aspect – but by definition, some introverted people find alone time to be enjoyable – and this is a perfect fit for delivering Amazon packages. Of course, most of us are not extreme introverts or extroverts and fall somewhere in the middle. Feeling particularly sociable over the weekend? Drive for Lfyt! Want some alone time on weekday evenings? Drive for Amazon Flex!
Regardless of whether you are introverted or extroverted, packages tend to be more predictable than people. Some would argue that this makes delivering packages boring – but others might also call this reassuring and preferable. Rideshare services have certainly increased their efforts to promote safety, but driving for Amazon Flex can certainly alleviate any concerns or anxiety that you may have over unruly or rude passengers. Of course upon delivery there is the unpredictability aspect with respect to new apartment buildings, neighborhoods and customers, but these are usually short-lived interactions and there is limited opportunity for any significantly unpleasant situations. Additionally, Amazon Flex does encourage safety and provides provisions should a driver feel that a safe delivery cannot be completed.
Finally, while driving your route, you are free to “be yourself” – Amazon packages will not complain about your music choice or attempt at singing along. Of course there are limits to what you can and cannot do as per the service agreement and general laws – but part of the flexibility that independent contractor status provides is the ability for you to decide what to wear and how you complete the deliveries – again, as long as you meet the expected standards.
You can have a co-worker (of your choice) in Amazon Flex
Since under your contract with Amazon Flex your primary obligation is to deliver packages to designated locations, as long as you do so in a satisfactory way, Amazon does not (currently) have any strict rules regarding how you complete the deliveries, including whether or not you can have someone else in the car with you during your delivery blocks. Amazon Flex terms do not explicitly discuss this, but in most circumstances having an extra passenger would not hurt the quality of service, and it would therefore seem unlikely that this is or will be banned.
Having a coworker can help tremendously with delivering packages as you have both a friend/spouse/sibling/person-of-choice to sit through traffic with and help with navigation – but is something you cannot do with rideshare.
Less work availability and pay in Amazon Flex
One of the most commonly mentioned complaints regarding Amazon Flex is the difficulty in finding shifts. Similarly, Amazon Flex rarely provides anything that corresponds to “surge pricing” – a commonly lucrative earnings boost for rideshare programs. To this end, making ends meet as a full time job driving for Amazon Flex can certainly be more challenging than driving for rideshare services.
You will need to commute to the warehouse under Amazon Flex
If the nearest delivery pickup point is a significant distance from your home, this becomes a relatively high cost in the long run. For rideshare, as long as you are in the general vicinity of where someone needs to be picked up, that slot is yours. In other words, you might drive for Uber and decide to drive only when someone nearby needs a ride – but for Amazon Flex you will generally always need to head to the warehouse to pick up packages first.