Amazon's web-server outage caused some warehouses and deliveries to come to a screeching halt as 'bored stiff' workers wait: 'Anything using a computer is down'

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Amazon's web-server outage caused some warehouses and deliveries to come to a screeching halt as 'bored stiff' workers wait: 'Anything using a computer is down'
An Amazon driver carrying packages.Patrick T. FALLON / AFP
  • The AWS outage brought some Amazon warehouses and deliveries to a standstill, workers sold Insider.
  • "All we can do is wait," one warehouse worker told Insider. "Anything using a computer is down."
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A widespread outage on Tuesday ground operations to a halt at some Amazon warehouses and stalled package deliveries, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Amazon Web Services outage began around 10 a.m. ET, according to DownDetector. At a warehouse in the Pacific Northwest, the outage knocked out "anything using a computer," leaving staffers "bored stiff," one Amazon worker told Insider.

"All we can do is wait," they added.

Amazon acknowledged the issues around noon ET and said that it was working to resolve them. "We have executed a mitigation which is showing significant recovery," Amazon posted in an update at 5:04 p.m. ET Tuesday. "We still do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time," it added.

The outage also caused the company's routing software to go down in some locations, according to a West Coast Delivery Service Partner (DSP) — a small delivery outfit contracted by Amazon.

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Many delivery drivers on the East Coast likely loaded their vans and started their routes ahead of the outage, but then had to pull over to the side of the road when the software went down around noon ET, the delivery partner said.

Not all delivery drivers were affected. One Amazon delivery driver in Brooklyn told Insider that his day was business as usual — though he expressed that he wished his routing software had gone down to give him a break.

On the West Coast, most vans were not yet loaded when the system went down. Without routing software to dictate which packages go in what van, some drivers waited in parking lots unable to start deliveries just 18 days before Christmas.

A DSP driver usually handles between 200 to 250 packages per day in 100 to 150 stops, but during December, those numbers skyrocket to well over 300 packages. Routes over 700 packages, delivered to 300 different stops, are legend among DSPs. Drivers may work 10-hour days to complete all the deliveries, not including the loading of the vans, the delivery partner said.

Scrapping an entire day of deliveries would create an epic logjam. Amazon doesn't leave room in vans to make up leftover delivery volume, the partner told Insider.

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With free time on their hands, workers take to online forums to discuss the outage

Discussion of the server issues' impact on Amazon's logistics empire quickly spilled online, with Amazon employees reacting in real-time to the outage across multiple Reddit forums.

Warehouse workers said they are experiencing outages in Dallas, Charlotte, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Chicago, Phoenix, Michigan, Jacksonville, and Ontario, Vice's Motherboard first reported.

Amazon's web-server outage caused some warehouses and deliveries to come to a screeching halt as 'bored stiff' workers wait: 'Anything using a computer is down'
The inside of an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey on December 2, 2019.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

"My DSP has 20 drivers sitting in the parking lot, in the cold," one user wrote. "Just waiting. Our warehouse can't scan or bag so we have to wait for them to even do that part. Like bruh, let us go home, before we all catch pneumonia and really can't drive."

Multiple users online said the outage led to impromptu karaoke sessions within Amazon warehouses. Others expressed gratitude for what they called "easy money" as work paused for the day.

"DOM2 is having people sit in the parking lot and waiting, hoping to be resolved," one user posted on Reddit. "I was back-up so I didn't get a route today, but seeing people load 350+ packages into vans just to sit and wait, and the owner is going to be the last to call it off.... So glad I didn't work today. My buddies are literally like reading in their vans or browsing on their phones getting paid."

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