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Why are Amazon delivery drivers hanging phones in trees?

Answer: To get more work.

by / September 2, 2020
Shutterstock/Jeramey Lende

With many people out of work due to the pandemic, certain gig jobs like Amazon delivery have become quite popular. The company has a program, Amazon Flex, that allows contract drivers to use their own vehicles to make deliveries. It works by sending an alert to drivers whose smartphones say they are nearest to a pickup location when a package needs to be moved.

In order to get more of these pickup offers, and therefore get paid more, some drivers are in on a little workaround. Someone hides a smartphone in a tree outside a Whole Foods or other Amazon pickup station, and the drivers who are in on the scheme sync their phones to it. This then fools Amazon’s system into thinking those drivers are nearby, so it sends offers for jobs to them first.

Engadget reports that Amazon has become aware of the scheme and will be launching an investigation. However, the company said it will not be sharing the outcome of that investigation with its delivery drivers. 

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