back to article Amazon drivers unionize after AI sends them on 'impossible' routes

A group of delivery drivers subcontracting for Amazon in Japan have unionized, claiming the internet titan's AI software often plans routes that are impossible to complete within set deadlines. The labor union, formed by 15 drivers in Nagasaki in a protest against the American mega-corp, is the second group of its kind formed …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It has become clear to me that the stagnation of productivity increase since ~2000, is directly caused by IT and is a consequence of it.

    Generally the goal of IT,AI etc is not increased efficiency, or overall productivity, but just to push the wealth up the food chain and to concentrate it.

    My wife's company recently rolled out (so called) AI routing software for the trucks, letting them fire the dispatchers. Supposedly this will be faster as supposedly the software knows how long every road takes, and where all the hold-ups are.

    Except it doesn't. The drivers and dispatchers already know how fast the roads are, and since ~1970, all drivers immediately know about any road issues, as they all were listening to the same radio telephone channel and they tell each other what and where.

    The AI however only knows any of this somewhat late, after a bunch of traffic has been slowed down. It never knows the root cause, because it understands nothing, and it can't predict what will happen for the same reason.

    So they got rid of two (low paid) people by using "AI". Productivity is down >10% - that's 10% of 50 drivers, and 50 trucks, and the processing plant they feed. They have lost 12 drivers (who can get jobs elsewhere), and can't replace them, and now have trucks idle (just the finance cost of a truck exceeds minimum wage). Fuel burn has increased not decreased due to more idling in traffic. The cost of the software certainly exceeds the two salaries they "saved". And they can't go back as they ripped out the voice RT's and put in tablets - which themselves have already caused a couple of accidents, and which are going to result in a decent fine, as it is illegal to use them when driving.

    The best part is that the competitor who is eating their lunch, has two people in every truck - a driver and a spotter, not just one driver.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Expect the top management getting a bonus for this.

      == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    3. Mast1

      Re Pushing wealth up the food chain

      It appears that this is firmly entrenched business model: why have a printer at the airport when you can "persuade" our customers to use their own printer ? Ditto with

      (a) requiring customers to have a computer to access their bank accounts (not great for those with disabilities)

      (b) rather than a utility company building pumped storage, or their own giga-battery vault, get many customers to shell out $thousands on multiply duplicated technology in their own premises, and then become a network management house controlling all these.

      The consequences are also that the customer shoulder the maintenance & repair costs, and also insurance against high energy-density fires (battery packs, or, in at least the UK, non-vehicular storage of fuel).

      Yup, diodic flow of wealth.

      1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        It's the Sharecropper economy, Stupid

        It's part of the neo-sharcropper economy, which is a clone of the worse version of sharecropping.

        In traditional sharecropping, the landlord fronts the money for owning the property & for planting the next crop, the sharecropper does the work, and the landlord & sharecropper share in the proceeds of the crop sale. The goal is for both the landlord & sharecropper to make money and this system has them co-invest in the crop, albeit in different "currencies", and share the investment risk. It's a brutal system in practice, barely above slavery & feudalism.

        The digital sharecropper economy ah la Uber, Amazon delivery, and such, is vastly more abusive to the "sharecropper" than in normal sharecropping. In the digital sharecropper economy, the "digital landlord" takes on almost zero risk and simply skims cash off the cash flow. The "digital landlord" thus makes money regardless of the profit & loss of the "digital sharecropper". The "digital sharecropper" takes on 100% of the risk both in terms of capital investment (owning & maintaining a vehicle or property) and in terms of operating profit/loss.

        1. Mast1

          Re: It's the Sharecropper economy, Stupid

          Thanks for a single-word definition. But my examples takes it a stage further : the customer, not just the labourer is now shouldering this risk.

          Whatever happened to capitalism's mantra "the customer is king" ?

          Perhaps one should now qualify it with "of the dung heap" after that ?

          1. JimC

            Re: It's the Sharecropper economy, Stupid

            > Whatever happened to capitalism's mantra

            Do we really have capitalism any more? The capital of businesses rests not so much with long term wealthy owners, but with institutions, and so decision making is not with the owners, who can lose everything, but with a self appointing executive class who have wealth, sure, but its predominantly from doing deals and awarding themselves bonuses and shares, which may swiftly be sold on. A long term commitment to building and staying with a business is arguably a much rarer thing than it was in the days of industrial revolution capitalism.

            So if you're going to have a completely different set of interchangeable peons working under you in a different business in 5 years time, are you going to have even the rudimentary sense of duty and responsibility to the workforce that the less rapacious industrial capitalists had? After all the more distanced, faceless and exchangeable your workforce is, the easier it must be to treat them like the robots you'd dearly like to replace them with.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: It's the Sharecropper economy, Stupid

              Do we really have capitalism any more?

              When the really big players get juicy contracts for doing bog-all with no penalty clauses for gross incompetence or non-delivery and in the unlikely event that they go bust can expect a government bail-out ... I'd say not.

          2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: It's the Sharecropper economy, Stupid

            Whatever happened to capitalism's mantra "the customer is king" ?

            They declared the revolution.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Delivery routes should be the core competence of the logistics company and require specialised software based around solvers for the "travelling salesman problem". It's difficult to see AI helping much here except, perhaps, to infer traffic volumes, though these are also generally well known.

      If Amazon is providing the routes then that does look very much like Amazon should be employing the drivers directly.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        I've actually been replacing solvers for routing calculations with my own purpose built code. the solvers are slow and unpredictable. I've now got it running at least an order of magnitude faster with better routing and deterministic results.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Glad to hear it. As you know, solvers are great tools for certain generic problems. The more specific the problem, the better specific code will be.

          I'd expect "Blang Reg Logistics Tokyo Inc." to have a library of detailed local knowledge that gets fed into program for every run. As I said, routing is a core competency of any logistics company.

    5. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      > Generally the goal of IT,AI etc is not increased efficiency, or overall productivity, but just to push the wealth up the food chain and to concentrate it.

      Has been since Arkwright.

    6. Abominator Bronze badge


      Thankfully natural selection will take care of the company that bought the shitty AI solution as a cost saving measure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No, I'll give you 3:1 odds they will buy the nimble competitor. There are two big companies, and they have been buying each smaller one that somes along for years.

    7. Martin-73 Silver badge

      On a minor personal note, Waze is also good at doing this as an individual satellite navigation app... 'my AI says this route is equally fast'

      The AI doesn't note that one route is a dual carriageway (2 lanes in each direction, with a central barrier/median) and the other is a 5'6" wide farm track with tractors coming the other way....

  2. Alpharious

    I am flabberghasted.

    It must have been extremely bad if Japanese delivery drivers had to unionize. Those guys are solid steel and already put up with nasty working hours, extreme regulations (NO! alcohol allowed the night before work), and some of the most insane traffic i have seen in my life. It is not the work for the faint of heart. They also try to soldier on as much as they can. So for them to unionize, tells me that this was a serious problem.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Just like IR35?

    'Amazon's AI software often dispatches drivers along inefficient routes ["] often doesn't account for real-world conditions like rivers or train tracks or roads that are too narrow for vehicles."'

    "The delivery drivers, however, are subcontractors and technically work for a third-party logistics company. Amazon is not legally responsible for their working conditions."

    Taken together, these two statements yield a disturbing picture. Clearly, in many places the influence of the megacorps is returning us to the working conditions of the 19th century industrial revolution. Given the spreading emphasis towards "free market economies" (a euphemism for those with the greatest power grabbing all they can) this can only get worse. Slavery doesn't cease to be slavery just because you get paid.

    1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: Just like IR35?

      Music to Truss's ears

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Just like IR35?

      It all sounds rather like Uber claiming it's drivers were not employees.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Just like IR35?

        But they are, so is the idiot uber india spambot that thinks my name is Khan

  4. dogcatcher

    My supposedly updated GPS in my car will, on a specific route, try and persuade me to leave the main road and follow a route that the main road replaced some 30 years ago. This can add half an hour to the journey. It also has a penchant for several overgrown farm tracks that might once just have been roads in the days of horse and cart. I refuse to be enslaved by an inefficient bit of software. I still use a printed map.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Andy Non

      My TomTom while usually very good, does occasionally "go off on one". There is a particular route where I always travel by fast main roads but the TomTom always wants me to go by a different route. I tried the TomTom route one day out of curiosity when I had time on my hands and it took me on a countryside trek down fifteen miles of twisting narrow lanes and farm tracks. Never again.

      It also screwed up badly in Beeston, Nottingham, a very busy part of the city with heavy traffic, one way systems and trams. I don't know the town at all and it left me stranded in an impossible place having to go through a buses only bus station to extricate myself from the one way system. (Still waiting to see if I get a fine). I ended up picking up a friend to guide me through the town to where I needed to be as the TomTom (fully up to date) completely failed to navigate to my destination.

      1. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

        TomTom has always been bad at route planning particularly in rural areas. It doesn't seem so be able to distinguish between roads and dirt tracks. Or roads and private driveways. Or roads and smudges on the map.

        I remember once driving in Anglesey using TomTom. I was concerned that is was leasing me down a ridiculously narrow lane and looking for a gateway to turn round in when I arrived at a farm yard where the road simply ended. Immediately beyond the farmyard was an embankment and then the A55. TomTom clearly thought that this was a junction with the A55.

        You might argue that maybe the map was out of date, but that is not the case. The A55 had been there since long before the TomTom was manufactured. There was never a road where the A55 is now so there had never been a junction. And while I was turning round the farmer informed me that road had never gone anywhere before the A55 was built.

        1. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Did you have TomTom in 4WD off-roading mode?

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        I got stuck on the Nottingham inner ring road going in clockwise circles - I could see my destination off the other carriageway, but could see no way of getting to go anticlockwise.

        1. Mast1

          Nottingham ring road

          You bid Nottingham, I raise you : the Coventry (elevated) inner ring road.

          You can see where you want to go below you, but cannot find the right off-ramp.

          1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

            Re: Nottingham ring road

            You bid Nottingham, I raise you : the Coventry (elevated) inner ring road.

            You can see where you want to go below you, but cannot find the right off-ramp.

            Ahh, that's where you are going wrong - you should be looking on the left for the off-ramp, except in Glasgow, of course.

            1. Abominator Bronze badge

              Re: Nottingham ring road

              Ah Glasgow. City of a million traffic enforcement camera with a purposefully bad road layout.

              Did you know Glasgow hands out about as many traffic fines as the whole of London?

              1. Woodnag

                Glasgow hands out about as many traffic fines as the whole of London...

                ...but only to cars registered to English addresses.

            2. Intractable Potsherd

              Re: Nottingham ring road

              And Dundee, where you exit right to go left over the Tay Road Bridge, and left to go straight on up the right-hand bank of the river...

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Nottingham ring road

                Or coming south over the Tyne Bridge from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Gateshead where you need to be in the left lane to go straight ahead and the right lane to turn left. Strangers don't see the flyover around an S bend and if not carefully noting the signs, often find themselves in the wrong lane. Likewise, same location, to head west, you stay left and turn east to go around a 3/4 anti-clockwise circle to approach the lights and cross the road and junction you just passed.

        2. Potty Professor Bronze badge


          See my piece below. I always used to go round my delivery route clockwise, because there was (still is) one junction where you can turn left off the bypass onto a residential street, but can't turn right out of that street onto the bypass. In order to make that turn, you have to go back to the other end of the street, turn right onto a main road, and follow it down until it meets the far end of the bypass, then turn right and back past the street you just came from. Over a mile detour just because some planning wally decided to put a central reservation across the junction (which was originally built as a roundabout but modified before the bypass was opened).

    3. JamesTGrant

      Mmm - there’s an idea, a ‘scenic route’ setting (yours appears to be in that mode already…)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's labelled in the interface as "taxi" mode.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Register has asked Amazon for comment.

    Generally, there are two levels of Amazon (google, facebook, MS, apple, etc) response:

    1. vaguely related to the question, but absolutely not replying to the question, in the form of a pre-defined 'we're doing everything great, fuck off' response. This happens when nightshift amazon bot gets a red flag message from a nightshift 'media metrics watch' amazon bot that the subject has gone over the 'risk borderline', i.e. has been picked up by more than x number of y media (where 'y' stands for some media, but not just any media).

    2. no reply, which is, essentially, the same fuck off response, issued either because the abovementioned threshold has not been met, or as a double fuck off response, to indicate that this or that media outlet is 'not worthy' a bot response.

    p.s. there might be a bit more of a squirming response variant issued if the threshold is met and exceeded (aka shit hits the fun big), IF this or that gov gets involved (when it suits this or that gove to show to their plebs the gov DOES care), but hey, by pure coincidence, quarrels between govs and captains of industry are extremely rare.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: The Register has asked Amazon for comment.

      for this one, they answered in an obscure Japanese dialect where there is one one speaker left (working at Amazon JP obviously) and that uses a set of character that has not yet been included in any Unicode font

  6. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    Ever tried watching your amazon drivers route on the app once they are eight stops away? I don't know what software they use to plan routes but it doesn't work. I've seen the vans go from one end of the village to the other passing my house in the middle before reaching me. I've even seen the van deliver on the next street to me then head a mile away before coming back to me.

    Clearly this must be costing amazon in time and fuel so it needs sorting out. It's odd how big corporations so often waste absolute fortunes because nobody seems to be overseeing basic processes. These companies are obsessed with making obscene amounts of money, but don't seem to understand the old adage about looking after pennies.

    1. Potty Professor Bronze badge


      When I was delivering for a local Pharmacy, I used to plan my route by plotting each address on a photocopy of the local street map, then proceeding to the nearest one from each delivery. This worked well, but manglement said that I was spending too much time sitting in the branch doing my planning, and that I should be out on the road. I therefor took everything and put it in the van, and then did my mapping whilst sitting in the back of the van, where all the deliveries were in tote boxes.

      Manglement had an incentive system for the branch staff to give them a bonus for every home delivery they added to the list, but then criticised me for taking longer and doing more miles to service those extra deliveries. This came to a head and I prepared graphs to show the almost straight line correlations between time and number of deliveries, mileage and number of deliveries, and time and mileage. With this presented at what was supposed to be and arse kicking session (my arse), the Union Rep came down heavily on my side, and manglement had to back down, they decided that the incentive scheme would stay and that they would swallow the extra cost of my delivery runs.

      We were then taken over by a foreign company (concrete suppliers!), and the whole thing started again, so I tendered my notice and left. They now are the only high street pharmacy that doesn't deliver, I wonder why?

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Routing

        Ditto - I picked everything up from the depot, and then went to a service station, bought a cup of tea, and spread out a route atlas (remember them, y'know, paper) so I could see all of the North East in one glance, and plan my route. Add on some cross-checking with online streetmaps for the final hundred yards (which of these lines is Acacia Crescent, and which end is number 1?), sort my delivery sheets in my order, and off I went.

        It was a temporary summer job, and when it got to trying to do Huddersfield/Hull/Harrogate all before 5pm I was glad to leave.

        1. ske1fr
          Big Brother

          Re: Routing

          Travelling Salesman problem. Amazon's algorithm fails to optimise routing based on incomplete data . Your solution is more old school with additional fine tuning for the final hundred. Amazon must think "Alexa says go this way" is infallible. Yes, the three H's is bonkers in that time, but 'computer says"...If they ever get this drone delivery nonsense off the ground using the same algorithm it'll result in the final drop still containing the last delivery, and being more of an autorotate to earth, unless the drone gets treated more leniently, so stops for recharge are not grounds for 'retirement'.

      2. Andy Non

        Re: Routing

        Maybe the drivers should adopt Yodel's delivery process and just drop parcels off at any address that is convenient for them provided it is within a mile or two of the intended delivery address?

        1. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge

          Re: Routing

          I wish that was a joke. Round the housing estate where I live we have a facebook group for exactly that with everyone within a 2 mile radius a member. "Parcel dropped off at mine, name is xxxxxxxxx, is this yours" kind of thing. New posts several times a day.

          1. Andy Non

            Re: Routing

            Yodel are pretty crap. I ordered a SIM card for expedited delivery. I watched on the computer as the driver got closer and closer and my number in the queue got smaller until finally... an email came saying my envelope had been delivered. Erm, no it hasn't. An hour later a lady from a mile up the road kindly knocked on my door and explained my envelope had been pushed through her letterbox. Her address bore no resemblance to mine. Very kind of her to go to the trouble of bringing it to me, but shame on the idiot Yodel driver.

            1. Potty Professor Bronze badge

              Re: Routing

              This happened to my niece just yesterday, she was handed a small parcel that had a different address on it, but the Amazon driver insisted that his hand held machine was telling him that he was at the right parcel for that address. Turns out that the other address was in the same apartment complex, although in a different building, so my niece traipsed over to the other address and found her (much bigger) parcel dumped on the doorstep as no-one was home. She posted the small parcel through the letterbox, picked up her own parcel, and traipsed all the way back to her own apartment, on the third floor.

              I phoned Amazon to complain and told them to ensure that their drivers RTFL (Read The F***ing Label) before making the delivery, don't just scan the barcode.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge

                Re: Routing


                (Seriously- the best I've been able to do it was re-order the items on a parcel that was clearly dropped off at someone else's house after their system suggested that I wander up and down my neighborhood asking random neighbors (who may or may not speak my language) if someone had dropped off $12 worth of USB cables by mistake...)

            2. Evil Scot

              Re: Routing

              Similar problem with DPD Local.

              Delivery 1 : Cant find address. (Contact branch with correct address did not deliver on promise to deliver at end of shift)

              Delivery 2 : No response from address or neighbour. (Contact branch again get photo of address attempted. Not even the same street building is obviously too to have an apartment no 41 but the building behind his back... Well)

              Ended up collecting my phone from post office. WTAF!!!!!

        2. Mast1

          Re: Routing

          Drop ? Eeee, you were lucky. Previous correspondence here suggests that the usual method is "chuck". (with some added vertical as well as horizontal velocity).

        3. David Austin

          Re: Routing

          Had Yodel deliver a computer to the Police HQ about a mile from my house a few months ago; Had to phone the desk sergeant to ask if they could put it to one side so I could come and pick it up.

          On the plus side, I'm one of the few people that have had the Police help with my enquiries...

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Routing

          Coincidently, we had a Yodel delivery today. Wife wasn't sure, but thought she heard someone in the back. By the time she got there, no sign of anyone. No one had rung the prominently displayed bell push or knocked on the door. She did notice a card about to blow away, caught it, and all it had on was a barely legible delivery number. So she checked in the bins, nothing, checked in the shed, found the parcel. I suppose we should be grateful the delivery guy found the right door number, right street and even the right town!

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      > Clearly this must be costing amazon in time and fuel so it needs sorting out.

      Apparently it doesn't : that's the contractors problem. So what's the incentive for Amazon to sort it out ?

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      All may not be exactly as it seems

      Home deliveries are not a problem I've ever had to deal with. But I'd note that a lot of the stuff Amazon delivers is fairly bulky, so it isn't just distance they need to worry about in ordering their deliveries. They need to worry about whether the boxes -- all of them -- intended for a given address are accessible in the back of the truck when they get to said address. And that folds back into loading order at the warehouse. I don't know much about warehousing, but I do think that I know that it is complicated and easy to screw up.

      So, perhaps some apparent disorder in Amazon's delivery routes is explicable.

      But that's no excuse for presenting drivers with unrealistic demands. Solution: Ease up on the drivers. Fire a few managers -- who should have been working to get the situation resolved. And fix the software.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: All may not be exactly as it seems

        Have you seen the back of an Amazon van? There seems to be no planning done at the loading stage. At my previous address, it was common for the delivery driver to have to take out items in order to find whatever we'd ordered.

      2. FatGerman

        Re: All may not be exactly as it seems

        This does not happen. Outside my house seems to be a popular spot fir Amazon drivers to stop and organise their loads before continuing on. I've seen people completely unpack their vans and reload them in a different order. The drivers are definitely more competent that who/whatever is handling things at the depot.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Clearly this must be costing amazon in time and fuel so it needs sorting out.

      Wrong: once Amazon outsources the problem to third party steering wheel slaves (it doesn't employ the drivers, it "contracts" them), it's up to the drivers to figure things out. I suspect that Amazon and others use a simple "capture area" algorithm to assign parcels to JollyBoysSpecial Village and leaves the rest to drivers.

      Experience something similar with Ikea's TaskRabbit last week; the poor guys job order was Lünen, Herne, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, starting and finishing in Bochum. That transposes roughly to Chester, Preston, Liverpool then Manchester, starting and finishing in Wigan, easily 4 hours driving. Coupled with unrealistic timing for furniture assembly and we're back with unrealistic piece rates of yesteryear.

  7. Lordrobot

    AI to Humans: "Drop dead!:

    AI Lagerfeld — 'Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants then UNIONIZED!.'

    "Workers say they are tired of working long hours to deliver more and more parcels for no extra pay, and blamed the company's software, which automatically sets routes and delivery times, for exacerbating problems."

    Just look at that sentence.... full of "human" complaints

    1) tired of working long hour

    2) tired of delivering more parcels for no EXTRA PAY

    3) Blaming SOFTWARE...

    Tired of working, tired of delivering, blaming software... [Want AI to breathe for you also?]

    The answer from AI is simple enough... eliminate the complainers with autonomous drone deliveries and driverless vehicle deliveries. Until then how can AI respond?

    UNIONS have databases. AI can talk to that computer, get your personal info then can shut off your apartment utilities, black your bank payments, snip your plastic cards, expire your driver's licenses, fab up some cheeky photos of you and your wife's best friend, adjust your grades in school and test scores... and drop your already low social status like a Cruise ship anchor.

    Mess with the AI Bull and you'll catch a horn.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: AI to Humans: "Drop dead!:

      Either you missed a sarcasm tag, or you needed this icon on your post. :)

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: AI to Humans: "Drop dead!:

      Humans to AI: "Hmm, I wonder what this red switch does."

      1. Evil Scot

        Re: AI to Humans: "Drop dead!:

        + + + Big Red Lever Time + + +


        Please Replace FTB.

  8. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Hahaha! I fired Amazon!

    I live in rural America. A place with no street lights or cell service.

    Amazon hires city-bred Millennials, hands them a mobile device, and tells them to go deliver. I rarely see the same Amazon driver more than twice. They are always lost, and rarely deliver packages on time. Often with lame excuses like "could not access front door". What a bunch of bravo-sierra, I have worked remote for a decade and according to my security cameras no vehicle came near my driveway.

    Too bad there isn't an on-line book seller that sells Thomas Guides they can use when the device stops receiving cell service. I don't blame them though. Amazon wants their drivers out late in the evening - I wouldn't want to be a stranger out on these roads on a dark winter night!

    It took several complaints on multiple orders before Amazon Logistics agreed to 'de-prioritize' Amazon as the delivery service. As a result, Postal makes all the deliveries. They deliver on the committed schedule.

    (P.S. No, I don't expect the same-day delivery service as urban America. I get it. If Amazon is going to charge me a Prime membership for two-day delivery, that is up to them to meet their commitment, not me.)

  9. Man inna barrel

    Delivery driver could the address on the delivery note

    A few years ago, I worked in a workshop/factory on the outskirts of Birmingham. I used to pop outside for a smoke. One day, a delivery driver stopped and asked for directions. I asked to see the delivery paperwork.

    I said "You're not even in the right town. I think that address is about ten miles from here."

    The driver was quite adamant that he was on the right road. I think what had happened is that some computer system had looked up the customer address, and actually got the registered address, which frequently different from the trading address. I knew that a firm of accountants next door to us acted as the registered address for quite a large number of small companies. I think it is at least 50. Even when I told the driver this, he still insisted that he was on the right road, even though his paperwork said something completely different. I got fed up, finished my smoke, and went back to the office.

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