back to article Washington DC drags Amazon to court for 'yoinking' driver tips

Amazon again stands accused of stealing delivery drivers' tips, and using the money to cut into workers' pay, this time in a lawsuit filed by Washington DC's Attorney General Karl Racine on Wednesday.  Amazon Flex allows folks to make money by delivering packages for it using their own cars. The service has been running since …

  1. IceC0ld

    colour me surprised, a major Corp, possibly the biggest with a consumer facing side, trying to rip off the TIPS their people get ffs, you couldn't make this up, if thus was a film scene, NO ONE would believe it

    the sooner they are forced to pay PROPORTIONAL fines the better, not a million, as that is just loose change to them, less than the cost of 'doing business'

    rip them for BILLIONS in fines, see if they get it then

    scummy Co, think they are bigger than the law, bigger than anything

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The sad thing is that the best the govt can come up with is that they misled the customers.

      Not that the corporation stole from the staff, and not the richly deserved charges of conspiracy and racketeering against the managers who plotted to do so.

      It is time to gun for those responsible, even if they can't get convictions.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        And still worse: "As part of that settlement, the mega-corp admitted no wrongdoing."

        So they just paid some money to make their legal problems go away? It's like bribing the state.

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          "It's like bribing the state."

          Sort of. It's about maintaining eligibility to continue to participate in government contracts. Something one is not permitted to do with a criminal conviction on their records.

          It's sad that our justice system pursues some people into court and eventually prison to demonstrate that "justice has been done". Even when such efforts result in a net cost to society. But others are allowed to pay some amount to be determined to erase that bad mark. Payment as a punishment is OK, but wrong is wrong and that should stand on a record by itself.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          So they just paid some money to make their legal problems go away? It's like bribing the state

          It's just BAU. Keep the 20% tip you're supposed to pay to the state, they might get upset. Keep tips that are supposed to go to the people, and punishment? What punishment?

          Also suspect this problem will continue to grow as more transactions go cashless. Also why I don't like inclusive service charges, and if I get good service, I still give the person who's provided it some cash.

          (stop sniggering at the back. Not that kind of service)

          I also blame the lawyers. They bring a case, they often collect most of the settlement. So unless people in class actions then try to sue the lawyers, they get screwed twice. See also the latest in the Post Office saga. Even though lawyers are supposed to act in their client's interests, it doesn't always seem they act in them.

    2. Fazal Majid

      Right. Simply paying back money owed is not enough, there should be a punitive deterrent. They should pay at least treble damages to the victims, and also be forced to cooperate by naming the guilty executives so they can be criminally prosecuted. When executives know they can go to prison for misbehavior that benefits their company is when the practice will end.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Shocking right? But it's not just big corps who do this either. Wage theft is very common in the U.S. In fact, it is the largest form of theft compared to all other forms, combined.

      But Americans keep voting to screw themselves, so what can you?

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        "Wage theft is very common in the U.S."

        True. But the tax and financial systems here have a vested interest in maintaining the idea that labor and wages are two separate things. If labor was afforded a value*, then a shortchanged worker could just file a contractor's lien against the employers property to recover the agreed upon amount.

        *A bit of a Marxist idea, granted. And it would devastate our tax system in that my giving an employer $100 worth of labor in exchange for the same in wages could be written off as an expense, making my income tax liability zero.

    4. DarkRookie

      Tens of billions and we got a deal. I doubt Billions will get them to stop, just doing less often.

  2. cornetman Silver badge

    Cash is king. If you want to tip your driver, give them some unambiguous paper.

    Once the money goes into an electronic system, all best are off.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Or better still don’t habitually tip for people just doing their job, averagely.

      Tipping for service >good is my threshold.

      …though there is a lady in Montreal Airport Holiday Inn Express who disagrees and thinks getting 2 (overpriced) bottles of beer out of a fridge, uncapping them, putting on the bar and ringing them through the till in < 60 seconds deserved a flat 15%.

      Get tae fuck love !!!

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        OMG, I can so relate.

        One night when we were in Key West, me and the misses walk into a bar, Order 2 beers, the bar maid walks away and grabs t out of the cooler, I lay a twenty on the bar to which she takes it and returns my change, laying it on the bar. I do nothing, I'm talking to my wife. She walks away muttering about not getting a tip. (I ussually tip bartenders at the end of the night or before I leave). Needless to day, "no tip for you bitchypoo!"

      2. JoeCool Bronze badge

        The answer is obvious - just ask the service person what their wage is. Factor in the incedibly low cost you just paid for something. Determine who's hide that "cost effectiveness" is coming out of. Then decide what kind of society you want to live in, you are ok living on the comfort of slave labour.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Pay people a proper living wage. That is the problem at the bottom of the food-chain.

          If you don’t earn enough there, stop begging and get a better job. With constriction in the labour market - esp. entry level - never been a better time.

          Why social-care workers in the UK are leaving to go work for Aldi, Lidl and Amazon.

  3. fxkeh


    I admit to finding the American tipping culture strange, but tipping the delivery driver seems to me an extra level of bizarre. Where is the added service that you're rewarding - that the box wasn't used as a football and/or stolen?

    Do you tip the FedEx person too? The UPS person delivering your letters?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Tips?

      As far as I can tell, the tipping system works as follows: someone decides to hire people but pay well below what they otherwise should, and they label this with a tip box on the interface that people correctly translate to "You wouldn't want the person doing the work here to be paid almost nothing, but unless you give money here, they will". Then that box never moves, even when things change such as wages increasing or the company deciding it will make the part they pay dependent on how much tip there is. In the end, the user has no clue how much the person will get paid if they don't tip.

      On a side note, I ordered some electronic components from a small site about three years ago. After selecting my components and paying for rather expensive shipping given this was before the COVID-snarled transportation times, I was brought to a page asking if I wanted to tip. I don't know who would have been paid if I selected to do so. I wonder how much free money they got by putting that option into their otherwise completely standard online checkout process.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tips?

      Dunno,I was on a team call with Canadian’s and they were discussing Christmas and gifting their mail-man as being a normal thing. They always gave a Tim Horton’s gift card and were after ideas for something different to get.

      My British ‘you gift the mailman at Xmas…. Seriously WHY!!’ was not particularly appreciated.

      1. dogcatcher

        Re: Tips?

        The postman has always had a Christma box and despite the strikes this year he's still getting one. Anyone who provides a personal service gets a tip or a Christmas box --- apart from the Amazon driver who threw my parcels down on the drive, outside my front gates. His tip is that I haven't yet sent the security video to Amazon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tips?

          So you tip your checkout girl in Tesco then or the practice nurse at your Doctor’s surgery or the personal shopper who did your Morrison’s grocery shop on Amazon Prime ??

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tips?

        have you never given the 'binmen' something at Christmas?

        assuming you see your binmen - might be a suburban thing....

        1. dogcatcher

          Re: Tips?

          Not since I have to put my bin out on the road They got tipped in the days when they collected the bin from the house.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tips?

            The binmen’s tip to me is ‘if your wheelie bin is not on the edge of your property boundary by 07:00 … they will carry on past your house’.

            Perhaps I will sellotape the tip envelope on the lid of the Green recycle bin they “don’t empty at Xmas”.

        2. Boo Radley

          Re: Tips?

          20 years ago, before the automated trucks came along, I always tipped the garbage guys. All year, through our brutal South Texas summers, they cheerfully picked up my trash, even working holidays. One year the supervisor came along and asked that i quit giving them cases of beer as the Christmas tip, apparently they would get drunk while still on the job. After that I gave Walmart gift cards.

        3. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: Tips?

          "have you never given the 'binmen' something at Christmas?"

          Going by whst many Brummies have endured over the last few years, the tip I could give is try collecting the bins for more than 10 months a year.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tips?

            .. and people in Coventry, and Glasgow..

      3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Tips?

        I'm in the UK. Binmen, postman, paper boy and window cleaner all get Christmas tips.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: Tips?

          My (suburban) binmen can fuck off.

          Our dry recycle wheelie bin is still sitting outside after (yet another) missed collection 2 weeks ago, and despite a promise twice of an ad hoc collection it’s still sitting there.

          They were also on strike for 2 months earlier in the year and eventually got 10% from my local council … so they can doubly fuck off.

      4. Fazal Majid

        Re: Tips?

        I grew up in France, and it's traditional for the firefighters, postmen, garbagemen and others to come sell calendars for the New Year.

      5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Tips?

        My British ‘you gift the mailman at Xmas…. Seriously WHY!!’ was not particularly appreciated.

        I have never received a satisfactory answer to "why?" - only outrage at daring to ask and for challenging the tradition or practice.

        I am not sure anyone could convince me tipping workers is anything but a means to address an otherwise morally repugnant situation which I am therefore obliged not to support nor indulge in.

        When I do tip workers it is not so much to benefit them but to avoid criticism from those who believe I must.

        I would probably also keep my thoughts to myself if I were worried by forum downvotes.

      6. fxkeh

        Re: Tips?

        I can see a reason why you'd give your local postie (or refuse collector, newspaper delivery person, etc, etc) an annual christmas tip as a way of being festive. I can't see tipping each delivery person for each and every delivery.

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tips?

        You try delivering mail to detached homes in a Canadian winter and then tell me you don't deserve a little bonus...

      8. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Tips?

        When I was a kid, almost 60 years ago, my parents would tip the postman, bin men and possibly a few others for a "Christmas Box". They weren't rich, just factory workers. It was the done thing. I can't pinpoint when the custom ended.

        Speaking to my USA cousins about tipping, it's a kind of accepted thing - hence all those "tip calculator" apps that used to be on freeware sites. Because the staff are all on minimum wage. In effect the price on a menu was $n+12% with the extra percentage hidden away as if it wasn't effectively built into the cost - ( unless you were mean enough to not pay it).

        It's hypocrisy, and it's demeaning to the staff members.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stealing tips

    Drowning puppies and other b&$))&d acts

    1. Bebu

      Re: Stealing tips

      Bezos et al. could do with a visit from the ghost of xmas future.

      Unfortunately unlike Ebenezer Scrooge this crowd are clearly bereft of any such encumbrance.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Stealing tips

        Perhaps they have, and they liked what they saw...

      2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Stealing tips

        They could also do with legislation that makes it clear that if you use a "contractor" then the contractor's rate must cover all their reasonable employment costs - wage, expenses (vehicle costs, maintenance, insurance, PPE, etc), professional insurances, accountancy fees, holiday, sickness and pension allowances, etc. Any contracts that drive the rate below what would reasonably be expected for such a contractor would be made illegal, as would "voluntary" opt-outs and any other strong arm tactics on the part of the "client" to force the "contractor" to work at employee rates for contractor terms.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Nothing is more important to us than customer trust

    But we don't give a flying fuck about our employees.

    And yes, they are employees - no matter what wheasle words your lawyers dream up.

    1. Smeagolberg

      Customer trust

      >Nothing is more important to us than customer trust


      >But we don't give a flying fuck about our employees.

      This profit-trumps-people approach is how Amazon lost my trust and converted me from a frequent customer to a very infrequent customer.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Customer trust

        In practice, they don't give a flying fuck about "customer trust" either. The ONLY two things they give a fuck about are

        1. Taking money from buyers.

        2. Making sure buyers' saved credit card details are up to date.

        Everything else can fuck right off.

  6. Fazal Majid

    Why the scare-quotes around 'stealing'? It's a clear-cut case of wage theft.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      It’s not wages though (unless you have some weird local legislation around tips).

      Just wondering ‘who’ in the Amazon supply chain who touches a customer order thinks the tip (or a percentage of it) is the theirs ??

      Delivery driver, local aggregated sack filler, packager, picker, shelf filler/delivery break-down, the inventory clerk, the IT guys in AWS, the customer service people resolving mistakes… and many-many more - some of these are in different countries too.

      Same self-interest as many table waiting staff think they deserve more than the person who actually cooks the food, or cleans the place/toilets at the end of the night.

      Just get rid of tips completely (as in Japan) or it’s discretionary (UK) and pay people properly.

  7. Delay

    This should be criminally prosecuted as theft. Those that run the company and made this policy should serve jail time. Until this happens, these companies will keep doing it because it pays to steal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who in Amazon gets the tip??

      If there is local legislation that says a tip must go to the service provision staff - yes that’s fine.

      As someone noted above… for an Amazon fulfilment and delivery … please advise who that should be. Amazon probably may well have the scan data to apportion the money, but some formula would need devised to correct for effort input.

  8. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    The John Dillenger Syndrome

    So why is the DC AG going after Amazon for a violation that just about every restaurant in DC is probably guilty of?

    Like Dillenger said "That's where the money is!"

  9. andrewj

    This type of behaviour will never stop until they start charging and imprisoning the CEOs of these companies who commit theft. Guarantee there'll be a quick change in tunes then.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    Yes, but can we confirm they paid back the delivery staff?

    See title.

    Has anyone talked to the delivery people and confirmed they've been paid back? And if so, was it equal to the stolen tips?

    My personal experience is that it takes years to get your money and often it is NOT equal to what was stolen.

  11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The perfect defence

    "This lawsuit involves a practice we changed three years ago and is without merit"

    Yes yer honour, I burgled that house three years ago, but I've never done it since so clearly I should go free.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US wage system

    If you look up “Catastrophic” in the dictionary you get directed to US labour laws.

  13. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    "Nothing is more important to us than customer trust,"

    .... because we know how to effectively exploit that for great profits.

  14. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    Why, I thought we all knew

    The tip money went to buy:

    1. One rather large yacht

    2. One Lady Norelco razor

    3. One white cat

    Surely nobody was confused on this?

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