Gig work is becoming a popular alternative to the standard 9-5 job, with people making the switch for a varying multitude of reasons. I personally ended up in the gig economy to help supplement my income while I built up the on-site tech support business I had started. My 9-5 was the same type of work and to do both would’ve been a breach of contract. So, I created the website, manually built up the YEXT listings for a local SEO boost, and quit my job of 5 years shortly after.

The ease of starting courier gig work is what initially caught my interest. All I needed was a car, great! My old 2004 Hyundai would allow me to do everything except Rideshare, which was okay with me. There were a variety of apps to choose from; UberEATS, DoorDash, GrubHub, Roadie, Wonolo, Spark, and Amazon Flex.

I also wanted to do something that didn’t drain my energy and let me focus on what was really important. Courier gigs take just the right amount of energy, and leave nothing to be worrying about once you’re done, which leaves quality time to work on the real gig.

Fortunately, I have the mentality of signing up for things the minute I find them potentially useful or interesting, and not necessarily when I need it, so when it came time to NEED Amazon Flex, I was already approved to drive. This brings me to the first point,

 

1. Sign up NOW and get on the Waitlist

 

Most markets have a waitlist, and it could range from a few weeks to potentially a year or more.

Check here (https://flex.amazon.com/recruiting-cities) to see if your city is listed as actively hiring, if not, hop on that waitlist, it’s easy!

Android: Go to https://flex.amazon.com and download the App. You must sign up through the app, and it can not be downloaded from the Google Play Store. You will need to ‘Allow Installs from Unknown Apps’, at least temporarily for Google Chrome or whichever web browser you use on your phone.

Apple: You guys have got it easy! You can just go to the App Store and do a search for Amazon Flex.

Note: Waiting until the holidays to sign up is not ideal as Amazon, just like other retailers, hires seasonally and will put you back on the waitlist after the season is over (unless that’s what you’re looking for).

Now that you’re signed up, we’ll touch on a few other things. Amazon Flex is a courier gig, it is contract work, meaning you will receive a 1099 at the end of the year and not a W2. Amazon is not your employer; YOU are your employer. With that in mind, you will need to track your expenses, mileage and keep your car in good shape on your own dime and time.

The gig consists of signing up for blocks and delivering packages, or groceries during your block. When you successfully sign up for a block, the only thing you know about it is when and where to show up, approximately how long the block will last, and how much you’ll be paid. Once you arrive and sign in, you’ll find out the other details.

Everything else about this gig varies quite a bit; the market, stations, pay, routes, blocks, and even tips.

2. Don’t Take Base Pay

 

 

Each market varies a bit on what base pay is, but generally, it’s around $18/hr. After gas and the mileage are put on your car, it’s just not worth it in the end to take a shift that averages out to base pay. Instead, the name of the game is to wait for surges. Surges happen when the Flex algorithm determines that there are not enough contractors scheduled for the routes that are available. With a surge, the rate increases to entice more contractors to sign up for a shift. The market I’m in only sees surges reach upwards of $31/hr, but other markets can easily double this. We’re talking big $$$, $50/hr or more.

 

Surges happen for a variety of reasons, some of those being;

  • Early morning shift. Not 8 am early, but 3 am early. Obviously, this is a time when most people are sleeping, so the odds of having a surge at 1-2 am are more likely.
  • Customers got busy shopping. Just as it sounds, more customers than expected got busy ordering those same-day deliveries and there are more packages than expected that need to go out.
  • Weather. This is something I see in my market pretty often. Bad weather can cause a station to close temporarily, which means that shifts will get canceled (with pay! More about this later) and need to be rescheduled for later. Bad weather is also a reason that contractors can’t finish the routes they’re already on. These packages on unfinished routes will also need to go back out ASAP.

3. Be an Early Bird

 

In my market, early mornings are busy at the station, with many blocks available. And not just that, but because not everyone is willing to get up several hours before dawn, the shifts are easier to get, and surges are more likely. Just like everything else, the time that a station opens depends on the market, but it seems to be common for stations to be open at about 3:00am.

For a time in my market, the surges for morning shifts would happen the night before. This allowed me to start refreshing at about 9-10pm the night before and get a shift for the morning. Those days are over (at least for now), and the easiest way to get a surge rate now is to wake up an hour or two early. This brings me to my next point,

4. Refresh Offers at the Right Time

 

The trick to getting a surge rate is to refresh the Offers page at the right time. This is going to vary widely, but 45 to 90 minutes before busy shift times is generally a good idea. This is the time when other contractors are likely to drop their shifts, and when the Flex algorithm will offer surged rates to make sure routes get done. You can find your station’s busiest times over time, talking to your fellow contractors, or swinging by and checking the station out.

5. Refresh Orders the Right Way

 

Use two fingers to tap repeatedly at the same time. One finger will be positioned where both the Refresh and Schedule buttons overlap on the 2 different screens they are located on. The other finger will be positioned where a new shift will pop up.

Because of the amount of competition, and the use of Bots which are used by some users with the risk of being deactivated, there is often no time to look at the shift before you sign up for it. In markets with this much competition, the best tactic is to first sign up, then check your calendar. If it’s no good, forfeit and try again.

6. Don’t Waste Time Calling Support

 

Calling Support takes precious time and all they’re going to do is confirm what you’re already done. And anything they can do; you can do yourself. Either skip a customer as soon as you determine it’s worth trying again at the end of your shift or mark it as undeliverable.

7. However, Emailing Support is a Good Idea!

 

Emailing support after an issue has occurred, such as a late delivery or undeliverable package, goes a long way. I have found honesty is the best policy. If a package was delivered late because you had a lot of walking on a route full of apartments, tell them that. If you couldn’t deliver a package because it was 4 am on a Sunday, tell them exactly that. If they determine the reason was out of your control, you’ll be in the clear and won’t be penalized for the issue.

8. Deliver the Package At All Costs

 

Text the customer, call the customer, follow people in the gates, and leave at call boxes.

This is for 2 reasons. Undelivered packages can leave dings on your rating that take weeks of work before they fall off. Undelivered packages also have to be returned to the station which will lengthen your shift.

TIP: This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if I am delivering to an apartment or gated community that is fairly secluded or small, and I can’t gain access, I will leave the package at the call box. I will also text the customer (again of course after already failed attempts), and leave a final text requesting to please leave an Access Code for next time. Use your discretion, because a package that is not received will also ding your rating!

9. Never Ever Miss or Cancel a Shift Late

 

While working with Amazon Flex, things will happen that you have no control over, and you’ll receive a few dings here and there against your rating. Some you can email support for and have removed, while for others you just need to wait out the timer while you continue to deliver.

However, two types of dings you want to never do is completely no-showing for a shift, and not forfeiting a shift before the 45-minute cut-off or 5-minute timer after initially accepting it for last-minute shift pick-ups.

Your rating can only handle roughly 3 to 4 of these before you end up in the At Risk rating, or even becoming deactivated. Not only that, but these take the longest to fall off your record. Roughly 6 weeks if you continue to deliver consistently, or months if you only perform this gig a couple of times a week. It’s not worth it!

Remember, if something like a flat tire happens on the way to start your shift, email support as soon as you can and explain the situation.

10. Text Customers for Access Codes, and Save them!

 

If there is no access code in the notes, even if you get in, text the customer for an access code anyways. Next time the gate may not be broken, open, have someone to follow in, or get lucky otherwise. Asking for an access code while you can potentially save a headache or extra mileage later, for instance, if you happen to get that same route at 4 am.

To help yourself and others in the future, if you receive an access code from a customer, save it to the notes during delivery. There is an option on the last screen when completing a delivery, to add an access code.

11. TRICK: Marking a package as undeliverable without calling support

 

You’ll find when trying to mark a package as undeliverable for whatever reason, that all the options except for weather and late delivery, may be locked. The app will recommend calling support, but I have never been able to get support to unlock these options for me. I have however found out how to successfully unlock them myself!

    • Contact the customer. Assuming you have already tried to call and text the customer and haven’t received a response, try again. But this time, IMMEDIATELY select the option Unable to Deliver after contacting the customer. This is often enough to unlock these options.

    • Get closer to the delivery location. This isn’t always an option, but on several occasions, I have just simply driven to a side street that is closer to the customer’s house, and this unlocks the option.

12. TRICK: If your route shows TWO Pickups when you scan the initial package

 

This doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence, but it seems to be more likely to happen if you get a route where packages have been returned to the station from a previous route.

What you’ll see when you scan the initial package for your assigned route, is 2 Pickups listed instead of the normal 1. This means multiple routes have been combined. It also means that the route has not been optimized for driving time.

After you have successfully checked out your packages and are at your car ready to load up, I recommend closing and restarting your app. This is because the driving route is going to change! Nothing sucks more than to organize your packages, and then have the route change either halfway through organizing or when you get to your first stop.

If you use an app like Gridwise, this won’t matter, but if you’re using the Amazon-recommended route, then give it a minute to sort itself out.

13. TRICK: The delivery location on the map is different from where you need to delivery

 

    • First, make sure you’re in the right location. If you confirm that you are in fact in the correct delivery location but the app isn’t giving you the option to adjust the pin, turn on Airplane mode.

    • Airplane mode will allow you to adjust the delivery location effortlessly and complete the delivery. Once you turn off Airplane mode and have re-established a data connection, the app will simply send the information it has temporarily saved. Easy!

14. Join your local Amazon Flex Facebook group

 

Be informed about your area! You’re not going to be at the station very long most days and probably won’t talk to many people. Most gig work, whether it’s Amazon, Uber, or even non-courier or rideshare gigs, have online groups for people to join to talk about the ins and outs of the gig. There are often national groups with lots of information, but there are also local groups. Stay informed! My local group will alert me when the station is closed due to weather and even post when a surge is going on sometimes. I’ve gotten nothing but great vibes from this group and recommend it to anyone else.