Every night, before going to bed, I ask the Alexa-enabled Lenovo night clock what the weather will be like. Last night, right after she dutifully announced the oddly mild weather, Alexa informed me that I could tip my Amazon driver $5 by saying, “Alexa, thank you to my driver.”
Currently it is approx 275,000 Amazon drivers (opens in a new tab) supply over a billion (opens in a new tab) Christmas gift boxes and fulfilling the Christmas dreams of consumers and of course Amazon. But what do drivers make of it when they carefully place these precious boxes under our door? Apart from about $20 an hour, not much. Giving one of my drivers a small tip seemed like the least thing I could do.
“Alexa,” I said, “thank my driver.” I waited a while for confirmation that some hard-working driver would get some reassurance. Instead, Alexa informed me that she did not understand the request.
I decided to contact Amazon because I had a few questions, plus when I posted the news on Twitter, people were bombarding me with their own questions about who gets paid and how.
Amazon reps apologized for Alexa’s initial error, insisted the feature was working as promised, and urged me to try again.
Who got paid?
Apparently Amazon based the $5 tip on your last delivery. It might be worth asking Alexa to thank the driver as soon as you see the package at your doorstep. Otherwise, the thanks may go to the next delivery, which may not even be for you (perhaps for another household).
How long does the program run?
I have good and bad news. The good news is that you can thank your Amazon drivers as long as they deliver your packages. The bad news is that the $5 tip promotion period, which was a US-only event, has come to an end.
“Alexa, thank you my driver exceeded our expectations. We are pleased that customers are interested in thanking their drivers and encourage them to continue doing so. Drivers will continue to be notified of the gratitude received,” Amazon told me via email.
There are still some rules regarding the Alexa gratitude system:
Amazon drivers can get thanks once per order. If they drop multiple orders in one visit, you can thank them for each order. We imagine a long list of thanks on an Amazon driver’s mobile device.
The program, which began on December 7, was expected to deliver up to 1 million $5 in tips to Amazon Flex Delivery partners, deliverers hired by Amazon Delivery Service partners, and Hub DP drivers who deliver Amazon packages in the United States.
Finally, while you can open the front door and thank your Amazon driver directly, there is no other way to send thanks through Amazon without Alexa. Fortunately, you can use it on Echo devices, Alexa on the Amazon app, and via the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone.
On the other hand, it’s reassuring that so many people took the opportunity to monetaryly thank Amazon’s hard-working drivers, but on the other hand, perhaps Amazon could have allocated just over $5 million to slow down the transition from tipping to pure gratitude.
As I finished writing this, another Christmas package arrived at my door. I couldn’t see the driver, so I walked over to my Echo and said, “Alexa, thank my driver.” She immediately replied, “I’m glad you enjoyed your last delivery. We thank the driver.”
I guess that’s better than nothing.