back to article 140,000-plus drivers sent $60m in compensation checks after Amazon 'stole their tips'

America's consumer watchdog has sent checks totaling nearly $60m to more than 140,000 Amazon drivers who were said to have been screwed out of their tips between 2016 and 2019. The delivery workers have until January to cash them. The drivers were part of the Amazon Flex program that launched in 2015, and would drop off …

  1. Chris G

    Once again

    A mega-corp has bought itself out of facing justice for illegal practices with a relatively small sum of money that to them is small change.

    If you are big enough and have a near endless supply of lawyers, crime does pay.

    It is about time the law was applied to these companies and if necessary changed to give it more teeth so that there is a price to pay and a criminal record for corporations, after all a corporation has the same rights as a person in most respects so it should be answerable to the law just like a person.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Once again

      Careful, comrade, what you describe sounds an awful lot like Communism. Are you really sure you want Big Government interfering with the routine operations of private industry?

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Re: Once again

        (I can't quite believe how many people failed to notice the joke icon...)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Once again

          It's America. Mention communism or socialism or in fact any alternative to their beloved and pushed down their throat capitalism and some (not all) get frothy at the mouth due to the fact they falsely believe they will one day benefit from a system designed to keep most of them at the bottom with a few in the middle.

          1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

            Re: Once again

            Because any other form of economic system eventually devolves into tyranny!

            Socialism, communism, fascism, etc. cannot be imposed on a populous without the direct force of government. i.e. fear of imprisonment or death!

            Capitalism is an economic system operated by the people with government only regulating where it is necessary.

            In controlled economies you will always see the proliferation of black markets because humans will always seek their own advantage no matter what governments do!

            1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

              Re: Once again

              Capitalism isn't a kind of tyranny?

              Because any other form of economic system eventually devolves into tyranny!

              Capitalism is an economic system operated by the people the richest people with government only regulating where it is necessary where required to keep their snouts in the trough.


              1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                Re: Once again

                (at least two people have their snouts in the trough)

                1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

                  Re: Once again

                  (make that four)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Once again

              Not really. If people vote for a socialist government then they enact socialist policies. That is the will of the people. Capitalism is an unregulated mess of greed and destruction. We have food banks and poverty in the richest countries in the world. Governments don't regulate because they are part of the problem taking backhanders and bribes. The media is owned by the same people who benefit the most from capitalism so you never get the true story of just how messed up this world is.

              This is the problem, people like yourself don't understand what socialism is or you wouldn't put it with communism or fascism. It's a redistribution of wealth through proper taxation and regulation so the world is a fairer place. No one is being forced it's what people are going to eventually vote for. Though the people at the top won't let that happen so we'll end up with a totalitarian capitalist state. You were saying something about direct force of government I believe?

          2. Beridhren the Wise

            Re: Once again

            Actually about half of U.S. adults (52%) lived in middle-income households in 2018, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Roughly three-in-ten (29%) were in lower-income households and 19% were in upper-income households.

            So while amusing in a "lets see how stupid I can be" kind of way what your rant really shows is your own ignorant and ill-conceived notions of America.

            Or put so simply even you can understand it, stupid is as stupid does.

            1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

              Re: Once again

              It may not be literally true that its "a system designed to keep most of them at the bottom with a few in the middle", but re-phrase that to "a system designed to keep most of the money at the top with some in the middle", then it's not far off, and there's no question that it's getting worse. From the Pew Research Center themselves, comes this delightful plot. Or how about this one. Please read your last sentence.

              1. Beridhren the Wise

                Re: Once again

                According to the IRS personal wealth estimates of top wealth holders had a combined net worth of $9.4 trillion, which was 10.7 percent of America's wealth total of $87.7T, in 2016 dollars. Of course they are a small percentage of the total population (0.32%), but to say that most of the money is at the top is simply incorrect. For details see here:

                For me the main problem with your assertion that most money is at the top is that it assumes that the total amount of wealth is fixed, and it is not. Wealth is created by capitalism, so yes the rich get richer, but that does not require the poor to get poorer. As a matter of fact the poor are are doing better then even the richest person who lived a century ago.

                You assert that the "system" is designed to keep the poor from achieving any kind of wealth, what is your source for that? What benefit is there to the rich to keep the poor down? I truly don't understand that way of thinking. And if you look at the richest people in the US, none of them inherited it. Musk, Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg etc, all started with nothing.

                I did look at the Pew articles you referenced, and what I find most curious is that they never really go into the why of it, yes the gap is widening between the richest and the poorest, but is that by design? If so, as you seem to think, whose design?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Once again

                  "Musk, Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg"

                  I think you may need to do a bit of research on that.

                  Musk's dad was not poor in the slightest he had shares in an emerald mine at the time of apartheid.

                  Gates dad was a partner of a multinational law firm.

                  Bezos got a $300,000 investment of his parents to start Amazon. Wish I had that sort of money lying around in 1994.

                  Zuckerberg was at Harvard.

                  What does this tell you? These people didn't come from nothing. They and their families already were upper-middle class at the very least. They didn't start out in garages. They were all at Universities already. This started with nothing trope needs to die a death.

            2. Chris G

              Re: Once again

              Out of that 29% some 40+ million live below the poverty line, or about 12% of the total population.

              In 2018, 27.5% in the US had no health insurance so generally the drug companies who supply their drugs underwrite their while recovering the cost of drugs from the government.

              1. willyslick

                Re: Once again

                As an American living now for over 30 years in European exile, I always wondered how it could be that so many Americans living at or near poverty never voted for a bit more socialism, or at least some basic healthcare. A bit of self-interest would not go astray for these people often having to work multiple poorly paid jobs just to keep their and their family's heads above water, and one illness away from bankruptcy or other financial disaster.

                The truth is, most every American, no matter how bad off they are, is a frustrated billionaire whose ship is just about to come in...and of course this "american dream" nonsense is happily perpetuated and reinforced to the maximum degree possible by conservative media to enable the conservatives to conserve their own wealth as much as possible.

                Agree that capitalism is a good system compared to the alternatives, but it does not have to be this pitiless turbo-capitalism forcing families to live out of their cars, massive homelessness, and all the associated trauma just so some 1%ers can avoid contributing to society in any way by paying some taxes on their exorbitant wealth. I never bought this "freedumb" story and am happy to pay more taxes in my adopted social democratic country.

          3. very angry man

            Re: Once again

            alas can only give one up vote

        2. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: Once again

          "I can't quite believe...

          I can. In my experience (both personal and professional) most folks don't pay attention to detail, but merely react to a superficial scan of what's in front of them.

          This is likely to a great extent a protective response to swamping by the deluge of irrelevant stimuli thrust on us in the "developed world".

          It is commonplace. Buddhist master Henepola Gunaratana famously said "we pay so little attention that we don't even realise we're not paying attention". However it can (and does) result in misunderstandings.

          1. TDog

            Re: Once again

            This wasn't a misunderstanding this was theft.

            1. MiguelC Silver badge

              Re: Once again

              You just proved Mike 137's point, he was referring to Hubert Cumberdale's post and not the article, which you'd notice if you didn't just superficially scan Mike 137's post ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Once again

      ...after all a corporation has the same rights as a person in most respects so it should be answerable to the law just like a person

      I can't see that ever happening.

      I think companies should be given the choice: laws applied as if you're a person, or as if you're a company. And those laws then applied fully, including tax on revenue instead of profit. I think companies would rather quickly decide that they're actually not people after all.

      1. Steve K

        Re: Once again

        Tax on revenue is a daft idea....

        You are ignoring direct and indirect costs here which vary hugely from industry to industry.

        Existing tax laws should be sufficient, with enforcement and controls over unjustifiable intra-company charges/management fees magically aimed at moving taxable profits to the cheapest tax destination

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Once again

          Well done for missing the point.

          Yes, companies are taxed on profit. However, people are not. We are taxed on income.

          Companies like to act, though, as if they should be allowed to pick and choose which laws apply to them as a company and which laws apply to them as a person. I'm suggesting they should be forced to choose one or the other. And the matter of taxation would, I'm sure, quite rapidly make companies decide that they are, in actual fact, companies and not people.

          1. Mike 137 Silver badge

            Re: Once again

            "Yes, companies are taxed on profit. However, people are not. We are taxed on income."

            Persons can claim expenses against tax. Consequently, in principle the difference is at what point the relief is calculated.

            In practice, the system is far from perfect (not least because in the UK the tax office doesn't seem to be able to understand its own processes and forms or perform arithmetic accurately). The only egregiously unfair arrangement her is IR35, which amounts to zero rights employment with negligible claimable expenses plus obligatory fees to untrustworthy intermediaries.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Once again

              Persons can claim expenses against tax.

              To a certain and extremely minor degree.

              I can't pay my mortgage, my bills, and any other monthly expenses before what's left is taxed. It would be nice if I could, but I can't.

              1. Steve K

                Re: Once again

                If I am (registered) self-employed then I can claim business expenses/capital allowances as per HMRC rules. I am then taxed on the profit remaining (and pay NI Class IV too etc. depending on various limits)

                In this case I am similar to a Ltd. Co (of whatever size) if not subject to IR35

                As a person (PAYE), your mortgage etc. isn't a business expense (ignoring the minor WFH allowances), and your salary isn't revenue.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Once again

                  "and your salary isn't revenue."

                  Oh good! Now I don't have to declare my salary to the Inland Revenue Service, or HM Revenue & Customs as they are nowadays :-)

              2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

                Re: Once again

                "I can't pay my mortgage, my bills, and any other monthly expenses before what's left is taxed. It would be nice if I could, but I can't."

                (from a US perspective)

                At one point in the past you could do this to a point. All interest on credit was deductible, mortgage, credit cards, etc. But it was all just a shell game, (same as it is today) The top tax rate was 90% but no one paid that on their income, You paid it on like 20% of your income after deductions.

                The "lie" that the rich don't pay taxes is a relic of the French Revolution that the Left still trots out to this day, The rich actually did not pay taxes in France in the 1700's but today in the US the top 1% pay 40% of federal income tax.

                If you want a fair tax system you scrap the income tax (which is just a tool of the Left) and replace it with a consumption tax that EVERYONE pays! I mean EVERYONE! Individuals, corporations, small business, non-profits, churches, EVERYONE! It is not regressive! If the Left can impose exceedingly high taxes on gasoline, natural gas and tobacco, all which adversely effect the poorest among us, they cannot make the argument that 10% on everything you buy is regressive!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Once again

                  Interest paid on loans is still deductible in Norway. It's a (very) small benefit in the grand scheme of things though.

                  I think the argument of "The Left", as you like to call them, is that very high income earners and the very wealthy could pay a tiny bit more tax that wouldn't affect their finances or lives in the slightest, that would allow low income earners to pay a lot less tax which would greatly improve the lives of millions of people.

                  A flat consumption tax on everything, like a flat income tax, would unfairly affect poor people significantly more than rich people.

                  Take 10% out of a $100 and you're left with $90. Take that same 10% from $1000 and you're left with $900. Yes, that $100 is worth more than $10 and equates to a greater tax revenue, but if you take just 1% from the poor person they'd have $99 left which is a huge difference, while the rich person would have to pay just under 11% to maintain the same tax revenue which would leave them with $891 instead of $900 - an insignificant change to their finances.

                2. DJO Silver badge

                  Re: Once again

                  cannot make the argument that 10% on everything you buy is regressive!

                  We have VAT, a set percentage on sales and it is recognised as being incredibly regressive.

                  Put in easy words for you: The poor spend a larger proportion of their income on essentials than the wealthy so proportionately more of their income goes to tax than it does for the rich person.

                  That pretty much the definition of "regressive" taxation.

                3. DJO Silver badge

                  Re: Once again

                  scrap the income tax (which is just a tool of the Left

                  The reason we learn history is to learn from it and to try to avoid being as stupid now as they were back then.

                  "Income tax was first implemented in by William Pitt the Younger in his budget of December 1798 to pay for weapons and equipment in preparation for the Napoleonic Wars"

                  There's no way that Wm Pitt cold ever be called "A leftie". Tax was introduced by the government to pay for wars, not a significant left wing aim.

                  Making up ridiculous and easily debunked claims is not a winning debating strategy.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Once again

          "Tax on revenue is a daft idea...."

          Whilst I agree with you there, on the other hand, that is how people are taxed. Are corporations, in law, people or not? It seems to me that they are "special" people based on how they are taxed :-)

    3. Mike Lewis

      Re: Once again

      Nothing is gong to change untll company executives are fined and jailed. To a company, a fine is just another cost of doing business.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Once again

        The FCA's ability to prosecute individuals for their decisions while working for a regulated company definitely changes their behaviours.

        This is one reason I like working for FCA regulated companies.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Once again

      "a corporation has the same rights as a person in most respects so it should be answerable to the law just like a person"

      It is answerable, just like any very, very rich person...

    5. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

      Re: Once again

      "It is about time the law was applied to these companies and if necessary changed to give it more teeth so that there is a price to pay and a criminal record for corporations, after all a corporation has the same rights as a person in most respects so it should be answerable to the law just like a person."

      That's correct, they are subject to laws, pay taxes but they are denied one specific right that all living, breathing persons have, the right to vote!

      Taxation without representation, ya know!

    6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Once again

      And...they have to pay back what they stole, plus about 3 minutes' worth of profit as a fine.

      You know what would make this kind of thing a lot less attractive? Making them pay back 10 or 100 times what they stole.

      Yeah. Like that will ever happen. And so it goes...

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Once again

        Wouldn't make a lot of difference, the fines come from increased prices to customers and lower (or not increasing) wages to staff and if all else fails, reduced dividends to shareholders.

        The only people who do not suffer any fiscal penalty are the board of directors, ie the actually guilty party.

        Fines need to come from the board personally starting with the overstuffed directors pension fund and then personally, seizing property if necessary and then prison time if their assets are inadequate to cover the penalties.

    7. Beeblebrox

      Re: Once again

      Bezos probably just thought that as restaurants keep tips intended for staff, why shouldn't he?

  2. ronkee

    When you withhold tips, you are also stealing from the customers who left the tip.

    It's not just a contractual matter between the employer and the worker.

    If I leave a tip for some reason, it was hard earned money being handed over because it is mine to do with as I see fit. It's no business of the employer to get in the way and whether the employee/contractor consents is irrelevant.

    We'd see less of these abusive practices if we recognised them for what they are.

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      This is so blatantly over the line, they should just be out of business. “Sorry, you don’t get to be a corporation any more.”

    2. John Jennings

      Would there be cause for a civil case against amazon for this - by a customer who tipped?

      This was theft, plain and simple.

      Amazon just had to repay the difference - they should have had some pain applied. Being a corp, are punitive damages appropriate? No chance the acting CEO of the time could serve time, I suppose...

      If Amazon is doing this to its employees, immagine how hard its shafting its suppliers and the little bit players in its marketplace?

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Does that include interest ?

    How many of the drivers will have had to borrow as they did not earn as much ?

    The interest rate should be, at least, a borrowing rate not a deposit rate.

    Why not use the UK statutory rate of interest which is 8% plus the Bank of England Base Rate.


      Re: Does that include interest ?

      No, the interest rate should be the highest permitted by law...that of payday lenders.

    2. DevOpsTimothyC

      Re: Does that include interest ?

      Personally I think they should be paying double to triple the money withheld plus interest as punishment, Plus whoever authorized it should be facing jail time for theft or fraud as a message to not do it again, but that's just me

  4. gwp3

    Cash tips only

    Cash tips only

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Cash tips only

      That's how I rolled back in the day...

  5. RobThBay

    Tax time

    Now that the gubbermint knows about these payments, it probably won't be long before the tax demons show up wanting their share of the goodies.

    Just imagine the tax bill some of those poor buggers are going to get hit with, especially that driver who's getting $28,000.

    1. AndersH

      Re: Tax time

      Eh, said driver will have $28k from which to pay the tax bill.

  6. matthewdjb

    easyJet b do something similar. They waived flight change admin fees, due to Covid, but the new flight will be charged considerably more than if you purchased it directly. They simply add the admin fee they would have charged to the price of the first flight.

    I changed two flights to two new ones. At the same time I bought two additional identical flights. The first leg of the changed flights was over £130 more expensive than the additional. easyJet of course deny any wrong doing saying they don't have a published price.


    Amazon = $cum

    No damages awarded as punishment, as usual.

    No fear and will do it again.

    No "60 Minutes" cornering of Bezos the Bald Clown, to ask him why lowlife billionaires steal tips.

    1. ICL1900-G3

      Re: Amazon = $cum

      True. Stop using Amazon. I have, for several years now.

  8. sabroni Silver badge


    Who else can do next day delivery for free? That's why we're all still financing this man child's idiotic greedy behaviour, right?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: But.....


      It's still chargeable

  9. hoola Silver badge

    UK Perspecitve

    Something that has always puzzled me is why in the US (and US companies here like Starbrucks) there is an expectation of a tip to fill a cardboard cup with coffee or in this case, throw a parcel over a gate (or is that Yodal!)

    Maybe I am missing something or it is the lack of a "Tip Culture" that we have in the UK.

    Tipping in a restaurant is understood but for the roles mentioned, it is odd.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: UK Perspecitve

      Maybe your base salaries are higher, allowing low wage slaves to actually survive?

      In the middle ages tipping was called "alms", but since charity is considered demeaning, it was eventually renamed to something positive, supposedly a "bonus for outstanding work". Like, "Hey, that was fantastic, here is a token of my appreciation". Except of course it has little to do with the quality of the service, it is just supposed to turn an abysmal income into a very bad one.

      But then hey, we're in a free market: Nothing prevents those people from being millionaires themselves. If they're starving, it's because they're lazy, isn't it. /s

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: UK Perspecitve

        "since charity is considered demeaning"

        Really? Tell that to all the people here in the US living off the "forced" charity of others.

        (Forced = Taxes to finance social programs)

        1. Ace2 Silver badge

          Re: UK Perspecitve

          Let me guess, you’re one of those people who thinks that spending on you and people like you is “investment,” but spending on other people is “welfare”?

      2. TimMaher Silver badge

        Re: Alms

        And "tip" used to mean "To insure promptness " and it was paid before the job was done.

        1. John PM Chappell

          Re: Alms

          Just FYI, you're being downvoted because that is false and a well-known "backronym". Abbreviations are modern, generally nothing before 20th C, tips are (relatively) ancient. If a word existed before the mid or at best early 20th C, it was not an acronym, ever, basically.

          1. Mike 137 Silver badge

            Re: Alms

            Tip 1755. A small present of money given to an inferior; a gratuity, a doucerur [Shorter OED 1933]

            Etymology: 'slang'

      3. alisonken1

        Re: UK Perspecitve

        Kind of like food service - low pay + expecting tips to make up the difference rather than decent pay + tips for exceptional service (like the original meaning of "tip" for better service).

        At least with food service (restaurant style), the expectation is up front rather than behind-the-scenes accounting shenanigans.

        Still sucks.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

      Re: UK Perspecitve

      I don't tip in many situations. Restaurants, bars, and sometimes my barber (only if I get a decent haircut which is few and far between).

      One thing that pisses me off is when someone expects or demands a tip. One time in Key West I had a Barmaid put down my 1st beer, I paid with a $10 bill and she brought me my change and then got pissy because did not hand her a tip! (I usually tip when I'm ready to leave based on the quality of service) I told her "You just lost any chance of getting a tip from me today!"

    3. wub

      Re: UK Perspecitve

      I agree with you about Starbucks. But if the program in the article is the one I think it is, many deliveries amounted to doing grocery shopping and delivering the order to the customer. In the case of produce, fresh meats and so on, the "driver" ended up selecting the goods what went into the cart. I can readily believe that some customers were very appreciative of receiving very fresh, unblemished fruit and veg and so on.

      And, to leave a cash tip would mean tipping in advance, since these goods were mostly delivered "drop and run" (particularly because of the intensive monitoring of deliveries - too lazy to hunt up the references), so the electronic tips were the most effective way for customers to properly appreciate good service.

  10. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Utter filth. That is all.

  11. Death Boffin

    Electronic larceny

    A specific person at Amazon made the decision to implement a change to the payroll system knowing it was illegal. It should also have gone through a change control board before being implemented. All those involved should be charged with grand larceny. Illegal acts pierce the corporate veil.

  12. TaabuTheCat

    A person made this decision

    Hide behind the corporate veil all you want, *someone* signed off on the decision to allow this. Find out who and charge them with theft, fraud, and whatever else you can make stick. Putting people in jail is the only way to stop this kind of shit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a reminder that "punishable by a fine" is functionally equivalent to "legal for the wealthy".

  14. Colin Bain

    Oh Dear!

    So THAT is why all those ads show Amazon employees wanting to become managers - less swindling of wages!

    In terms of socialism being so abhorrent in US, perhaps in the talk. However tax dodges, lobbying, subsidies to business, especially big business is socialism in effect. Just don't let the hoi polloi in on the act, that would reduce the profits. And so back to Amazon swindling their 'partners' = another word for slavery.

    And the capitalist drive to "gig" economy simply is the new grinding the faces of the poor.

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