Amazon Quietly Develops Their Own Delivery Service in the UK

I’m an Amazon Prime member here in the UK, and have been since shortly after I moved to my current location, in the West Midlands, near Stratford-Upon-Avon. Until a couple of months ago, all my Amazon packages were either delivered by the post office (Royal Mail), or one of a handful of delivery services: DPD, UPS, Yodel and others.

But in the past month or two, things have changed. I now get most Amazon deliveries from different people in unmarked or rented vans. I had a chat with one of them recently, and found out something interesting. Amazon is quietly developing a delivery service of their own. They call it Amazon Logistics; at least that’s how it shown up on emails I get saying that a package has been sent, or on my Orders page:

Amazon logistics

Amazon currently has eight distribution centers in the UK and is planning to add 1,000 new jobs in the coming months. Unlike some of the warehouses in the US, the ones here sound like college campuses. Here’s one in Dunfermline, Scotland:

Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Dunfermline will be the biggest in the UK. The size of 14 football pitches, in fact. The site itself is right next to the M90 and A92, so it’s within easy reach of Edinburgh, Stirling and St Andrews. Surrounded by stunning scenery and filled with attractions that include a Norman abbey, a royal palace and a racing circuit, there’s plenty to do both indoors and out. And if it’s the great outdoors you’re after, you couldn’t pick a better place. Fife is full of pretty villages and stunning coastal walks — and, of course, you’re never too far from a golf course. But there’s more to Dunfermline than the landscape. There’s also a wide range of shops, bars and restaurants, plus a theatre and a host of music venues. And if that’s not enough, all the culture and sophistication of Edinburgh is just across the river.

But as the company increases its staff within these idyllic distribution centers, it is also seeking to save money on shipping. Creating their own network may do just that.

When I asked one of the drivers, he explained that they are all temps, recruited through agencies. Some of them drive their own vans, and some drive rented vans: some of the vans I see have the names or rental companies on their sides, and I don’t think I’ve seen the same driver twice. Drivers are paid by the mile, and they have a given number of packages that they have to deliver in the day. This number can vary, and the driver made it clear that it’s very hard to keep up with the demands, and that, unless they drive all day, it’s hard to make a good living. And deliveries can be made at any time of day, up to about 9pm, and even on Sunday. (I had a book delivered this past Sunday.)

The driver I spoke to explained that drivers are responsible for packages. If a customer claims they didn’t receive it, it’s the driver who gets docked. It seems that this is a fairly common practice, at least in certain areas, and, while the drivers note exactly where they left the packages on a handheld device, it’s hard for the to prove that they did deliver them, without getting signatures.

As Amazon eschews more expensive delivery services – they still use UPS and others for expensive items – they will certainly save money, but the question is whether customers will be as satisfied as before. With Amazon Prime in the UK, most items are available for next-day delivery. Using other delivery networks, it’s possible to track packages, and even know approximately what time they are to be delivered. (DPD has a system where you can see the current location of the driver who has your package on their website.) But with the new network, packages can come at any time, and are often just left in front of doors. I haven’t had any lost packages yet, but several have been a day late.

Frankly, I don’t need all my Amazon purchases the next day. It’s a benefit of being an Amazon Prime member, and I always choose that, but if Amazon were to offer a discount for, say, two- or three-day delivery, I’d likely accept that for many things I buy from the company. On the other hand, one reason I subscribe to Prime is because if I need computer hardware for my work, and I do need it the next day, I know I’ll (almost always) get it quickly. However, if packages can be delivered up until 9 pm, then I can lose an entire day; if the post office delivers the package, I get it by lunch time at the latest.

When I lived in France, the post office, using their overnight service, delivered most packages; DHL and UPS delivered larger or more expensive items. But France is much larger than the UK; in fact, the UK is an optimal size for an in-house delivery network. My guess is that, in the long term, Amazon will move this service from using terms in rented vans to a full-fledged part of the company with its own full-time employees. I would expect to see vans with the Amazon logo soon, which would also provide advertising for the company. It will be interesting to see how this works out for Amazon.

As I write these words, it’s 4:45 pm. I’m waiting on my Kindle Voyage, which is due for delivery today. If it had come by the post office, I’d have had it hours ago. But since Amazon’s own network is delivering it, I may not get it until later this evening. It’s not that big a deal, but the service was more efficient before.

Update: 5:52 pm, and the Kindle was delivered.

Update 2: Interestingly, I just noticed that For certain Amazon Prime orders (not all), there is an option to not choose one-day delivery, and get a £1 credit toward MP3 files, Kindle books or Amazon Prime videos.

Prime

This is the first time I’ve noticed this. I did see that, for some items (I tried putting a few different items into my shopping cart, then going to check out), this option is not available. It may have something to do with which distribution center has the item, or what the cost of shipping a specific item is. My guess is they use second-class mail for the 3-5 business day delivery, and save more than £1. If I’m not in a hurry, I’ll be very happy to get a £1 credit for each order like this.

16 thoughts on “Amazon Quietly Develops Their Own Delivery Service in the UK

  1. “Interestingly, I just noticed that For certain Amazon Prime orders (not all), there is an option to not choose one-day delivery, and get a £1 credit toward MP3 files, Kindle books or Amazon Prime videos.”

    Been an option in the US for a bit less than a year now.

    “My guess is that, in the long term, Amazon will move this service from using terms in rented vans to a full-fledged part of the company with its own full-time employees.”

    Strongly disagree. Amazon pretty universally treats its fulfillment employees as badly as possible. And keeping them as independent contractors makes treating them badly easier.

    “But as the company increases its staff within these idyllic distribution centers…”

    Idyllic for everyone but the workers there, of course. Workers in the distribution centers, no matter how beautifully designed, are treated so amazingly badly that Amazon is having legal trouble with even the US’s essentially non-existent labor laws. And storms have been brewing with Germany’s more robust labor laws for a while now.

    “The driver I spoke to…”

    Ah. You fell for it. That “driver” was actually a cunningly disguised drone. But it can’t even come close to passing the Turing Test, and if you’d quizzed him a bit more, you’d have noticed.

  2. “Interestingly, I just noticed that For certain Amazon Prime orders (not all), there is an option to not choose one-day delivery, and get a £1 credit toward MP3 files, Kindle books or Amazon Prime videos.”

    Been an option in the US for a bit less than a year now.

    “My guess is that, in the long term, Amazon will move this service from using terms in rented vans to a full-fledged part of the company with its own full-time employees.”

    Strongly disagree. Amazon pretty universally treats its fulfillment employees as badly as possible. And keeping them as independent contractors makes treating them badly easier.

    “But as the company increases its staff within these idyllic distribution centers…”

    Idyllic for everyone but the workers there, of course. Workers in the distribution centers, no matter how beautifully designed, are treated so amazingly badly that Amazon is having legal trouble with even the US’s essentially non-existent labor laws. And storms have been brewing with Germany’s more robust labor laws for a while now.

    “The driver I spoke to…”

    Ah. You fell for it. That “driver” was actually a cunningly disguised drone. But it can’t even come close to passing the Turing Test, and if you’d quizzed him a bit more, you’d have noticed.

  3. I’m seeing poor service from Amazon logistics. Standard industry KPI on time delivery currently running at 0% WORST STILL Amazon don’t seem to care, this must be costing them a small fortune based on the credits I’m receiving.

    • 0%? Where do you live? For me, I’d say it’s around 98%. I’ve had a couple of items late, but it’s rare. It’s gotten better in recent months too.

  4. I’m seeing poor service from Amazon logistics. Standard industry KPI on time delivery currently running at 0% WORST STILL Amazon don’t seem to care, this must be costing them a small fortune based on the credits I’m receiving.

    • 0%? Where do you live? For me, I’d say it’s around 98%. I’ve had a couple of items late, but it’s rare. It’s gotten better in recent months too.

  5. I too am having a problem with Amazon Logistics – but a slightly different one. Just before Christmas a delivery van from them collided with a fence surrounding the village church and damaged a fence post. I have the registration number of the vehicle but am having considerable trouble getting any information from Amazon as to how I can contact Amazon Logistics and in turn make a claim against someone’s insurance for thre damage caused.

    • My guess is that you just file a complaint with your local police. Amazon drivers, AFAIK, use their own vehicles, and are responsible for any such damage.

  6. I too am having a problem with Amazon Logistics – but a slightly different one. Just before Christmas a delivery van from them collided with a fence surrounding the village church and damaged a fence post. I have the registration number of the vehicle but am having considerable trouble getting any information from Amazon as to how I can contact Amazon Logistics and in turn make a claim against someone’s insurance for thre damage caused.

    • My guess is that you just file a complaint with your local police. Amazon drivers, AFAIK, use their own vehicles, and are responsible for any such damage.

  7. Amazon Logistics are impossible to contact. They use agencies such as One Motion to deliver the parcels. One Motion make their money from renting their fleet of vans to self employed drivers on the false assumption that they will guarantee work due to the Amazon contract. The only arrangement the self employed driver has with One Motion is van rental of £185 per week, multiplied by hundreds of drivers renting is a lot of money. They also insist on a 30 day notice period when you want to terminate the rental. Whether they supply you with work or not you will still have to pay for the rental. One Motion continue to advertise and employ drivers and rent vans in Bardon, Leicestershire for work that does not exist. That’s a lot more money and it’s all a complete con. One Motion informed me directly that Amazon Logistic couldn’t care a F..K about who delivers their parcels! I was trained by a Romanian man who couldn’t speak English and actually witnessed him throw a parcel through an opened window which broke an ornament….totally true!!!!
    I know this first hand because I have just been turned over myself by One Motion and I have the conversation with them. I am currently trying to make contact with Jamie Stephenson at Amazon Logistics if ether he or the company actually exist. Any help on making contact with them is appreciated!
    All a great shame as I like Amazon and have been a customer for years, but not anymore
    !!!!!
    I need to trust and feel safe with those who are coming to my home front door.

    • I agree that it’s a bit loosely organized. For buyers, the contact is Amazon customer service. I have no idea how one would contact the actual company contracting to Amazon. Where I live, all the drivers are courteous, but I did have a lost package a couple of weeks ago. I was home, and the driver claimed to have delivered it to me, but didn’t.

  8. Amazon Logistics are impossible to contact. They use agencies such as One Motion to deliver the parcels. One Motion make their money from renting their fleet of vans to self employed drivers on the false assumption that they will guarantee work due to the Amazon contract. The only arrangement the self employed driver has with One Motion is van rental of £185 per week, multiplied by hundreds of drivers renting is a lot of money. They also insist on a 30 day notice period when you want to terminate the rental. Whether they supply you with work or not you will still have to pay for the rental. One Motion continue to advertise and employ drivers and rent vans in Bardon, Leicestershire for work that does not exist. That’s a lot more money and it’s all a complete con. One Motion informed me directly that Amazon Logistic couldn’t care a F..K about who delivers their parcels! I was trained by a Romanian man who couldn’t speak English and actually witnessed him throw a parcel through an opened window which broke an ornament….totally true!!!!
    I know this first hand because I have just been turned over myself by One Motion and I have the conversation with them. I am currently trying to make contact with Jamie Stephenson at Amazon Logistics if ether he or the company actually exist. Any help on making contact with them is appreciated!
    All a great shame as I like Amazon and have been a customer for years, but not anymore
    !!!!!
    I need to trust and feel safe with those who are coming to my home front door.

    • I agree that it’s a bit loosely organized. For buyers, the contact is Amazon customer service. I have no idea how one would contact the actual company contracting to Amazon. Where I live, all the drivers are courteous, but I did have a lost package a couple of weeks ago. I was home, and the driver claimed to have delivered it to me, but didn’t.

  9. Don’t bother with Amazon customer services as they do not know anything. I tried this and was told the parcel could be delivered up to 10 pm. I asked if they could give a rough time of delivery answer was no. I asked could they phone the driver only to be told they do not have phones or radio. I tried to ask if they could track it and was told no trackers on vehicle. I asked what kind of van it would be and was told it would be a normal van with Amazon written on the sides.
    I tried the chat and got a different story. They PHONED the driver and asked him to call me when he was near and just as well as he went to the wrong address ( I must admit that my address is a bit awkward to find.) And guess what, it was not an Amazon van but a battered old transit with a driver who could not speak proper English.
    If Amazon logistics do not improve I can see a lot of people going over to EBay as I already have. How could Amazon expect people to stay in up to 13 hours for a parcel and how many older people would be terrified to get a knock at the door at 10pm

  10. Don’t bother with Amazon customer services as they do not know anything. I tried this and was told the parcel could be delivered up to 10 pm. I asked if they could give a rough time of delivery answer was no. I asked could they phone the driver only to be told they do not have phones or radio. I tried to ask if they could track it and was told no trackers on vehicle. I asked what kind of van it would be and was told it would be a normal van with Amazon written on the sides.
    I tried the chat and got a different story. They PHONED the driver and asked him to call me when he was near and just as well as he went to the wrong address ( I must admit that my address is a bit awkward to find.) And guess what, it was not an Amazon van but a battered old transit with a driver who could not speak proper English.
    If Amazon logistics do not improve I can see a lot of people going over to EBay as I already have. How could Amazon expect people to stay in up to 13 hours for a parcel and how many older people would be terrified to get a knock at the door at 10pm

Leave a Reply to Don Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.