An Amazon Flex delivery driver in his 60s making $120 a day shares what it's like to work independently for the retail giant

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An Amazon Flex delivery driver in his 60s making $120 a day shares what it's like to work independently for the retail giant
"I understand people don't want to work 12 hours a day, but if you've got weekends off, this is a good way to spend your time," an Amazon Flex driver (not pictured) said.Brendan McDermid TPX Images of the Day/Reuters
  • An Amazon Flex driver from Connecticut who's retired from the military shared his experience.
  • He likes Flex and recommends it to others — he usually makes $120 a day, he said.

It's no secret that Amazon needs a lot of drivers.

A quick internet search will turn up numerous driving jobs at Amazon Delivery Service Partners. Amazon Flex, a program where drivers use their own cars for deliveries, is recruiting in over 80 cities. (Editor's note: The writer of this article drove for Amazon Flex from August to October.)

That may have some job seekers wondering whether they should be looking for extra income through the Flex program.

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In this program, drivers use their own cars, pay for their own gas, and accept whichever shifts they want delivering Amazon packages or Whole Foods orders.

Drivers must pass a background check, sign up with an Amazon account, watch a couple of short videos to learn the process, provide some information for taxes and payment, and select a delivery service area. Drivers can accept work in blocks of a few hours instead of having to commit to a full day of work. Flex drivers can also accept or decline Whole Foods "instant offers," which can involve one or multiple deliveries.

"Launched in September 2015, Amazon Flex gives individuals the opportunity to set their own schedule, be their own boss, and earn great pay while delivering packages for Amazon. Amazon Flex delivery partners across the US have competitive earnings that exceed $26 per scheduled hour on average," Amazon Spokesperson Maria Boschetti told Insider.

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"I get instant offers that I reject on a regular basis. I choose offers only when it seems worth it to me," one Amazon Flex driver from Connecticut told Insider, adding that he considers how much money the offer is for, how many deliveries it contains, and how far from home it will take him.

The driver, who's retired from the military and in his 60s, said he signed up for Flex because he was looking to make some extra money to travel and pay off debts. He asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Amazon Flex has been worth it for him, he said.

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"Flex has been a godsend for me, and it's a way to get out of the house. It's not a side gig for me — it's all I do," the driver said. "I certainly can't speak for everybody. A lot of us out there are retirees who are just trying to bring in extra money who have other sources of income but a lot of free time.

"I don't feel exploited like some drivers do because I can stop anytime I want," he added. "If I felt like Amazon wasn't being fair with me, and in some ways they're not being fair, I would just stop driving."

One thing the driver said was unfair was how Amazon handled delivery problems.

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For example, if a customer claims that a package wasn't delivered, even though drivers must submit proof of delivery, Amazon will side with the customer, the driver said.

"You can write emails to Flex support until you're blue in the face, and the chances of you actually getting a human to read them is pretty slim," the driver said.

This happened to the driver on two occasions, he said, adding that both times he received an email several weeks later saying an unnamed customer had reported a missing delivery.

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He sent an email to Amazon Flex support on the first occasion but was told that details would not be disclosed in order to protect customer privacy, he said.

Those delivery problems can have some financial consequences for the drivers, he said: Undelivered or late packages can affect a driver's ability to move into a higher rewards level, and higher rewards levels come with more cash back on fuel purchases with the Amazon Flex debit card, preferred scheduling to help drivers get better delivery blocks, and discounts on tires and vehicle maintenance. Amazon's Boschetti said that if a customer reports a package has not arrived it doesn't go on a delivery partner's record as an undelivered package.

Another negative the driver mentioned is that some routes can take drivers far from their homes, and time spent driving back home is not included in the rate paid to drivers.

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For example, if you pick up your delivery from a Whole Foods and two hours later finish the delivery 45 minutes from the Whole Foods, that 45-minute drive back is not accounted for in the base rate that Amazon pays, the driver said.

A lot of the money that drivers get from Whole Foods deliveries are tips. That's been good for him, he said, as he typically delivers to affluent customers. Whole Foods recently added a $9.95 delivery fee, which went into effect on October 25. The driver said that his tips had been consistent since then but that Whole Foods instant offers hadn't been as consistent for him in recent months as they used to be.

Normally, he expects to make about $120 in a day with two accepted Whole Foods instant offers, he said. The base rate is $54 per regularly scheduled three-hour shift, though that can increase if Amazon needs more drivers.

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He doesn't usually work seven days a week, though he doesn't take a ton of time away from Flex, he said.

"It's hard to take a day off when you know there's money out there, but I don't let myself get too burnt out," he said.

It's important for drivers to carefully track their mileage and expenses for their taxes, the driver said.

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He said that since buying a car in January he'd put 25,000 miles on it, most of them Flex miles. He added that he'd fixed his brakes twice this year already, to the tune of $800, and changes his oil every two months.

But the standard IRS mileage rate of $0.56 per mile in deductible costs makes the strain on your vehicle worth it, he said.

"I'm in a particular circumstance where the problems a lot of people have with Flex don't really apply to me. I have nothing but free time, I enjoy getting out of the house, and I don't really think it's hard work. Obviously, there are problems that crop up all the time … but I will continue to drive Flex for as long as it makes sense for me, and it does make sense," he said.

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"I understand people don't want to work 12 hours a day, but if you've got weekends off, this is a good way to spend your time," he added.

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