Amazon has agreed to pay $ 61.7 million to end a lawsuit over unpaid tips to independent delivery people, the US Consumer Protection Agency (FTC) said on Tuesday.
According to the complaint, for more than two and a half years, Amazon withheld part of the tips intended for delivery people working under a program called “Amazon Flex”.
“Rather than paying 100% of tips that consumers gave to drivers, as it had promised to do, Amazon was keeping the money,” said Daniel Kaufman, an FTC director.
The deal “makes it possible to return the tens of millions of dollars that Amazon has embezzled to drivers, and requires the group to ask drivers for permission before changing its handling of tips in the future.”
Several companies have been accused of embezzling funds intended for their self-employed workers.
According to the FTC’s administrative complaint, the e-commerce giant promised Flex program drivers that they would be paid between $ 18 and $ 25 per hour and would receive “100% of the tips” paid to them by customers.
But in late 2016, according to the government agency, Amazon switched to a lower hourly rate, without informing them, and started using tips to make up for the shortfall. The FTC says it has received hundreds of complaints from delivery people about this.
The Seattle-based company reverted to the original system in August 2019, when the FTC began investigating, according to the complaint.
“We do not agree on the idea that our way of paying drivers was unclear, but we added clarity in 2019 and we are happy to turn the page on this matter,” responded an Amazon spokesperson, requested by AFP.
“Amazon Flex delivery partners play an important role in serving consumers every day, which is why they earn one of the best hourly rates in the industry, over $ 25 an hour on average.” , he added.