A Wyoming company is escalating the fight between Amazon and its network of delivery company partners that help get packages around the country from warehouse to doorstep.

Amazon and Amazon Logistics, its transportation and logistics service, launched the Delivery Services Partners program in 2018, and billed it as a way for entrepreneurs to get a cut of the profits from the seemingly endless stream of online orders by setting up their own company and employing their own drivers. 

Since then, several delivery partners have accused Amazon Logistics of setting unrealistic — and unsafe — expectations for drivers, controlling most aspects of the independently owned companies’ operations and overstating potential profits for each business owner. Two delivery partners operating in Oregon and one in North Carolina have sued Amazon over the allegations.

Now, Wyoming-based Fli-Lo Falcon and owner Max Whitfield are going one step further with a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle on behalf of Amazon’s estimated 2,500 delivery service partners in the U.S.

“The purpose of the DSP program is to shield Amazon from its responsibility to delivery drivers and the public,” the lawsuit read. “Amazon, by and through [Amazon Logistics], exercises near complete control over the DSPs but fails to provide the required safeguards” under Washington law.

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Fli-Lo, headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, agreed to deliver Amazon packages in Sacramento, California, through a contract set to run from October 2019 to May 15, 2021. After an upfront investment of $10,000 and some time to train drivers through Amazon’s own program, Fli-Lo started making Amazon deliveries in January 2020 and did so until the end of its contract last year.

During peak times, Fli-Lo delivered about 350-400 packages per day per van, according to the lawsuit. A typical fleet for delivery service partners had 20-40 Amazon-branded vans, and Fli-Lo had about 80 drivers on its payroll “at any given time.” 

Amazon Logistics set the route for drop-offs and monitored drivers as they worked, keeping track of things like vehicle acceleration and braking, as well as how often drivers touched their phone while driving and whether they wore a seat belt. It would use that data to keep track of a worker’s performance, and keep a record of “petty infractions,” the lawsuit alleged. 

It would lower a driver’s performance if they left a package on one side of a customer’s door rather than the other, if they could not deliver a package because a building’s office was closed or if they lost cellphone signal — and consequently tracking capability — while driving a rural route. 

Amazon Logistics would use those ratings and infractions to “score” drivers and delivery service partners, and calculate whether the business owner would earn a bonus. Fli-Lo relied on that bonus to meet the profit range Amazon had promised, but received it just 5% of the weeks it operated.

According to the court filing, delivery service partners on average made between $31,500 and $64,500, far less than the $75,000-$300,000 in profits Amazon advertised when it launched the program. 

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“[Amazon Logistics] uses a subjective and opaque formation with impossible benchmarks” to determine profits, the lawsuit read. “The potential profit range is a pipe dream that is rarely achieved.”

For drivers, Amazon set “exceedingly aggressive time limits that could rarely be safely met,” the lawsuit alleged. Those limits didn’t change if the driver had to navigate a dense urban area or visit a high-rise apartment complex for a delivery.

The expectations were so strenuous that Whitfield often had to deploy a “rescue” driver to take over for an “overburdened” worker already on the road. 

In response to the litigation, Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti said the company disagrees with the allegations and believes they are without merit.

“Amazon is proud of the DSP program — it’s created opportunities for more than 3,000 small businesses and led to 250,000 new jobs, and the vast majority of DSP owners tell us they appreciate being a part of it,” Boschetti said. “While we won’t always get everything right, we continue to invest millions of dollars to support our partners and help them succeed.”

Whitfield declined to comment through his attorney, Daniel Hume from New York-based Kirby McInerney LLP.

It’s not yet clear how many delivery service partners could be included in the legal action complaint, but Whitfield and Hume estimate it could be thousands. It aims to include delivery service partners in the U.S. who signed on following Amazon’s second iteration of the program — DSP 2.0 — from 2019 to present.