Amazon Flex Review: Working as an Amazon Flex delivery driver

By | 30th August 2017

Given the latest statistics on the cost of living and inflation continuing to stretch our pockets, it’s not uncommon to find full time professionals working a second job on a casual basis to earn some extra cash, and this applies to me too! So when I read about delivering parcels for Amazon on a “gig” basis, using my own car I thought I had found an easy way to earn the extra money to pay the bills. Find our what it’s like to be an Amazon Flex delivery driver with my Amazon Flex Review.

Amazon Flex Review: What is Amazon Flex?

Amazon Flex is the name of program that allows car owners to sign up and work with Amazon to deliver packages to customers. After some basic background screening including a basic Disclosure & Barring Service criminal record check and watching the training videos, you’re ready to start picking up shifts. Amazon Flex works via Android or iOS apps only. There is no web interface and all your scheduling (picking up shifts), accounting and delivery records are made via the Amazon Flex app.

What does a typical shift look like?

So I am aware that there are two types of Amazon Flex driver depending on location. If you’re registered to an area that offers Amazon’s same day delivery service (Prime Now) then you will be able to deliver these time sensitive packings within a two hour shift (also known as a “Block”).

If, like me, you’re located in an area that doesn’t yet offer Prime Now then you will most likely be delivering Amazon Logistics, which is Amazon’s in-house courier company. Each shift is 4-hours long and you will receive a boot full of packages that needs to be attempted within the block times. In all honesty, I’ve never over-run my four hour block and usually complete a batch of 40-50 packages within two hours. Your block payment is the same, regardless of how long it takes! I recently lucked out with a 4pm-8pm block that was mainly reattempted deliveries from earlier, I had a grand total of 25 packages and it took me just over an hour to finish, however the average appears to be between 40 and 50 packages.

Using your Amazon Flex app you’ll scan each package on board and then deliver according to Amazon’s route (or you can route yourself) that shows up on your phone.

What’s the pay like?

It’s alright! The average four hour Amazon Logistics block pays £52.00, before tax and “costs”. I don’t live in a Prime Now area and therefore I have never worked a Prime Now block, however I hear from other drivers that you can earn more money per hour as customers can tip you when they order a Prime Now delivery, but there is a huge amount of mileage involved.

Tax? Costs? What do you mean?

Working for Amazon Flex means that you are a self employed driver that tenders your services to Amazon in the form of a tender agreement. You’re effectively a contractor for Amazon and therefore responsible for documenting all income and declaring this to HMRC. You are required to give Amazon Flex a UTR (Unique Taxpayers Reference) which you get by registering as a Sole Trader with HMRC. While Amazon claims absolute responsibility for accounting and tax reporting lies with you, I would not surprise me if HMRC had details of how much is earned by each Flex driver via their UTR.

As you are using your own vehicle, you also need to include the wear and tear on your car. While each block is kept to a smaller delivery area, you will still clock up the miles. There is also the cost of your mobile phone/data plan. While the Flex app does not appear to use too much data, it still requires a constant connection with data upload/download during your block. Plus Amazon can monitor your GPS location too as that is being constantly updated.

Important: I am not a tax adviser and you should seek professional help from an accountant or registered tax advisory service regarding the reporting and recording of taxable income, including the completion of your annual tax returns. Failure to declare taxable income can cost you thousands of pounds in fines and also jail time so make sure you’re clued up on what you need to do.

Do I get paid mileage?

No. What you see offered on the block price is what you get. You can however claim (from yourself, offsetting your taxable income) a “simplified expenses” rate of 45p per mile for the first 10’000 business miles and then 25p per mile for over 10’000 miles. I use Driversnote to record my mileage by recording my journey and it gives you the great ability to download monthly mileage reports in PDF format to save should you ever get audited. Also remember that you cannot claim for the mileage from your house to the Amazon Flex station or from the last drop home as this would be considered your commute and therefore not reimbursable. You can only claim the miles you drive from picking up your first package to dropping of your last.

So how does mileage & tax affect my pay?

You need to account for wear and tear to your vehicle, such as tyre wear, increased miles on your odometer and also general servicing etc. My longest Amazon Flex delivery trip was 28 miles in total.

Example:

Block Pay: £52.00
Mileage: (28 miles x £0.45) = £12.60
Pay after expenses: (£52.00-£12.60) = £39.40 (This is your profit)
Tax on profits: (£39.40 x 20%) = £7.88
Take home pay: £31.52

Therefore if your block takes you four hours to complete, your basically getting paid just £7.88 per hour. You may also need to factor in National Insurance Contributions too (also known as NICs). However this can get very complicated and therefore I recommend you either consult a professional accountant or check the HMRC website.

What about insurance?

This is where it gets a bit grey and I would always recommend talking to an insurance adviser or your own insurance provider. The Amazon Flex program claims to cover your vehicle on a third party basis from the moment you scan your first package to the moment you deliver your last. The cover is provided by their fleet insurance through Zurich and looks pretty good in terms of cover, however you will not be covered for any damage you cause to your own vehicle through your own fault – it is NOT a fully comprehensive policy.

Significantly though, the packages you carry are not covered or insured and therefore you are fully liable for any packages you transport. There is also no Public Liability insurance included from what I can see and should you hurt someone or damage someone’s property in the process of delivering a package, you are personally liable.

Any tips?

Yes. Lots.

  • Always carry a pen with you. You will need to write on the “sorry we missed you” cards, write notes from on-road support etc. Not having a pen is a real annoyance so always keep a couple in your glove compartment.
  • Check your itinerary and map of deliveries in the app before you set off. Sometimes you may be given your normal cluster of deliveries with one outlying drop-off. Plan that you want to end your route closest to home to minimise your mileage.
  • Invest in some 40p blue Ikea bags. They are great for storing batches of packages in your boot as each section of your route will be coded and you don’t want to have to search through all the packages to find the one your looking for.
  • With the above in mind, load your car with packages in order of the coded label. Each label has an area code, so if you’re delivering in Worthing you may have BN11.015, BN11.020 and BN11.025. All packaged are being delivered in the BN11 post code area, however you have been given three smaller sections of the area. Keeping each coding separate will speed up your drop (your packages are also picked and loaded on the trolleys grouped together…usually).
  • Listen to warehouse staff. They are there to help you and ultimately want you back on the road ASAP. It’s not uncommon for ten drivers to all load at once and therefore you need to listen to their instructions carefully to make your life easier.
  • Petrol stations are your friend. At some point you will need to answer the call of nature and knowing where your nearest Shell or BP petrol station is helps (these are usually the main forecourts with toilets). Otherwise large superstores are handy too.
  • Park legally. Make sure you park in a safe place when delivering. Just because your delivering for Amazon Flex does not make you immune to parking tickets. Also be aware of private parking restrictions too, such as apartment blocks, estates and business parks who may employ a Private Parking Contractor to issue Parking Charge Notices for improper parking – the biggest being ParkingEye and UK Car Park Management. Make sure you find a visitors parking spot or failing that, a deliveries entrance and always use your hazard lights.
  • Carry a portable charge for your phone. It will be on constantly, draining the battery using GPS navigation, the camera to scan package labels and the screen for customers signatures on delivery. Sometimes your car charge just won’t suffice (especially if your drops are all close together).
  • Be careful of dogs, cats, children, old people, young people, middle aged people and pretty much everyone. You are entering someone’s property and you just don’t know what’s behind that door. And because you’re dressed in your own clothes with nothing identifying you as an Amazon Flex driver apart from the Amazon box in your hands, people can often be a little suspicious of you. Use common sense when delivering.
  • Don’t leave your car unlocked. You are liable for every package in your car and if they get are stolen because you left your car unlocked while making a delivery, then you could be on the line for several thousands of pounds. Last Amazon Prime day, I delivered 54 packages. Three were 54″ TV’s with a retail prices of £500, plus countless numbers of Amazon Echo’s. My car probably had around £4000 worth of gear when you add it all up.
  • Amazon Flex is not a career. Picking up blocks can be very competitive, with lots of drivers looking to snap up the available offers. It’s not steak work at all and I cannot rely on Amazon Flex to provide me the same blocks each week to compliment my full time job, however it is great for last minute work.
  • Have fun! I really enjoy my deliveries. Most customers are really happy to see you with their Amazon order and it keeps you active running up and down driveways, flights of stairs and dirt tracks laden with packages.

Still interested? Hopefully you found my Amazon Flex review useful and if you would like to start delivering for Amazon and earning some extra cash, sign up here: https://flex.amazon.co.uk/ (you will need an Amazon account).

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