Is Amazon outsourcing to this extent?
June 6, 2014 6:31 PM   Subscribe

I just received an Amazon delivery (a Kindle, actually). The package was delivered by two guys in street clothes in a beat-up sedan -- no uniformed driver in a marked delivery truck. Is this the new normal for Amazon?

My package got here on time, so no complaints there. And, though it has some value, they didn't do anything nefarious with/to it. But I'm kind of weirded out that Amazon is employing two dudes, in their own personal car, to pull up in front of my house and deliver electronics. I have no doubt they're 'legit' in some way -- as soon as the guy dropped the package on the porch, it registered as Delivered on Amazon's tracking site.

(I'm not quite comfortable with how uncomfortable I am about this. I guess it comes down to the uniform lending a veneer of accountability and personal safety to me, a woman home alone waiting for delivery.)

Is this a new thing? Did the regular delivery driver (the shipper was Ontrac) maybe hand off some packages to his brother or something because he was running behind? (I could see that the back seat was full of packages, so they are obviously making quite a few more stops tonight.)

Has anyone else experienced something similar with an Amazon delivery?
posted by mudpuppie to Shopping (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have experienced deliverypersons delivering their last few packages from their personal car on the way home a couple of times in the past 10 years. Both UPS and Fedex, actually.
posted by wierdo at 6:34 PM on June 6, 2014

Ontrac is the worst - when I worked at a store at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, they would regularly leave packages early in the morning before we were open (that should have been delivered the day before) and get a random transient/homeless guy to sign for them. I can totally believe that the driver just handed off the packages to someone he knew to deliver, or was delivering them in his personal car for some reason.
posted by skycrashesdown at 6:34 PM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Welcome to Ontrac. This isn't unusual.

On the other hand, they do seem to deliver things intact and on time, at least around here.
posted by toxic at 6:38 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I should clarify that this was a young-ish guy -- early 20s, at best. Even in a uniform I wouldn't have bought him as a paid delivery driver.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2014

I once had an overnight Amazon package delivered by a clearly exhausted young woman in a club dress.
posted by griphus at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2014 [92 favorites]

Amazon is testing out their Last Mile delivery service in some markets. Perhaps, you're in one?

Were your packages labelled with "AMZL" or "AMZN_US"?
posted by nobejen at 6:43 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's not new. A lot of people have complained about OnTrac for the same reasons you have. (Actually, if you look at the Amazon forums someone is complaining about each delivery system extensively, which might make you think nobody ever gets their items, but I digress).

I've only had delivery by them a couple of times, without problem, but I've also had FedEx Home guys deliver in their personal vehicle and regular clothes -- on time, but somewhat disconcerting. I've read it has something to do with them being contractors and not employees.
posted by sm1tten at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2014

Amazon is testing out their Last Mile delivery service in some markets. Perhaps, you're in one?

Yeah, no. The little town I live in is most definitely not one of those markets.

I've received deliveries from Ontrac before, including from non-obvious delivery vehicles, but of the ones I've been here to witness, there's been a probably-magnetic Ontrac logo on the car/van. This one didn't even have that.

Anyway, thanks for the validation folks.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2014

As a supervisor/manager for several nationwide trucking companies during my professional career, I have delivered shipments from the back of my SUV on my way home from work. Not on a weekly basis or anywhere near that often, but under special circumstances. Everyone I know in the transportation industry has done it on occasion.
posted by raisingsand at 6:51 PM on June 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, I've seen unmarked package trucks and small vans make deliveries.

One thing that surprised me a few days ago was seeing a man in a FedEx uniform leaving my office building and climbing into an Amazon Fresh truck and driving off. I've never seen a non Amazon Fresh driver driving one of the trucks. It made me wonder where my tips go when I tip Amazon Fresh. Hopefully they make it all the way down the line to the outsource person.
posted by Lardmitten at 7:30 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two decades ago I worked in the office of a small delivery company. While our uniformed drivers did 99% of the deliveries, sometimes there were days where missing drivers (sick or vacation) coincided with being slammed with deliveries, and everyone in the office including me ended up being pressed into delivery in their personal cars on at least one occasion, so we didn't have to refund payments for packages with guaranteed delivery times. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened to other delivery companies.

and now I've typed 'delivery' so much that it looks weird to me. Delivery delivery delivery.
posted by telophase at 8:05 PM on June 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Amazon is basically a logistics company. I've had all kinds of couriers and delivery people bring stuff to my place in the urban bay area. The Ontrac guys in my neighborhood don't wear a uniform (and I live on a busy street and have never paid attention to which car was theirs) but it was always obvious they were just some random courier doing the 'sign here, take package' thing for whoever was paying them that day. I don't know what goes into the voodoo of who actually does the 'last mile' but I've always assumed these companies all have byzantine contracts with each other in order to handle the extreme bulk/unpredictable nature of what they're doing. Even USPS does last mile for Fedex in a lot of the US.
posted by bradbane at 8:07 PM on June 6, 2014

The Ontrac people here just leave stuff on my porch and write that "F. Door" signed for it. And then it disappears because I live in the middle of the city and have come home to find people (strangers, mind you) urinating on my porch, and I don't know if it's the same person but someone took the damn package is what I'm saying. Or maybe the Ontrac employee stole it, for all I know. Point is, they don't seem to be too concerned with the delivery outcome. I do not believe OnTrac even tries to hire "premium people".
posted by aubilenon at 8:52 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Amazon also uses a shipping company called Lasership, and like OnTrac, their reviews are pretty underwhelming.

I once had an Amazon Prime delivery that was almost a week late due to Lasership and I was given a full refund, so that is something to keep in mind in the future.
posted by alligatorman at 9:13 PM on June 6, 2014

Ontrac is the worst. This week my Blue Apron order was delivered (a day late) by a guy driving around with his three kids. No uniform, unmarked car and nothing to sign.
posted by 26.2 at 10:19 PM on June 6, 2014

Delivery of everything has gotten super sketchy at my house. My new iphone was left on a chair on a porch. They didn't knock or anything, I only knew it was there because I got an email that my package had been delivered. We bought an Intex pool on amazon prime last week. The first pool got damaged in shipping and got returned, according to the tracking. The second one got left in the middle of my front yard and was in approximately half a box. The tracker said "delivered to front door." Again, they didn't knock. That was two days ago. Today, I got three texts in a row saying my pool was about to be delivered. I can't wait until my three extra pools actually get here! Meetup anyone?
We also sent books to my neice's baby and keep getting emails about the address being incorrect and the delivery company having to send the books back because they were unable to deliver but we've already seen videos on facebook of the baby reading the books.
posted by artychoke at 10:40 PM on June 6, 2014

Amazon has had stuff delivered to me using Ensenda and those delivery folks were plain clothes in beat up cars.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:46 AM on June 7, 2014

The Ontrac guy that delivers to my house comes in a dirty, white unmarked van, and looks like some random street person. He then proceeds to fling the parcel onto our porch from the sidewalk, where it sits in full view (upside down) of anyone who walks or drives by. Ontrac is not in the least professional and apparently don't care to be, despite telling me they would talk to the driver. Amazon certainly does not care- I wrote and told them I would end my Prime membership if they kept using lousy Ontrac. No response.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:12 PM on June 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

It likely depends on where you live. I'm in NYC and I generally do not have any problems receiving packages except if they are usps. USPS will often not Knock and won't deliver the package. Instead they will stop by and put a slip in the mailbox saying no one was home to collect delivery even if someone WAS home. They just don't knock and don't try to check if anyone is home. Once I caught one of the postmen doing this because I had opened the door as he was putting the slip in and I said "Hey! I'm here!" He feigned ignorance and said, "Oh, ok, I'll just go get your package then. I left it in the truck and I'll be right back." Then he got into his truck and just drove off! I stood there and couldn't believe it.

After looking at reviews of usps online I found out this was a common occurance and someone claiming to be a postman said the reason this happens is because postman apparently get paid for each letter sent, but they don't get paid for packages delivered, so if packages usps workers often just leave the package at the post office and will try to get the person to pick it up themselves. If they get paid per letter on top of their salary that seems like a pretty cushy job, but I guess it's not enough to make them care about delivery. I'm assuming different parts have issues with different mail carriers.
posted by manderin at 4:30 PM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know this is an older thread but at my previous house I had OnTrac deliver at least a few times. I thought it was great. Usually it made my Prime 2 day free shipping into 1 day. And I was pleasantly surprised that sometimes it would be 8 or 9 pm. When I order something, I'm usually super excited about getting it and most of the items I order come from a city about 2 hours a day so 1 day is awesome.

Also, the people who delivered my packages drove a Prius with a logo or magnetic sticker for what it's worth. Since moving a few months ago to a neighborhood that is bloacks and blocks of sections of 3 houses all connected, (Triplex? I should be asleep and not on here apparently) where we have little privacy from neighbors and the street, also a shared car[prt... I have to say I have been very disappinted with UPS and FedEx leaving packaces without even knocking or ringing the bell. Luckily the usually put it in the carport but it's still very much out in the open.
posted by soitgoes at 2:11 AM on November 1, 2014

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