Amazon offers ‘thanks’ to drivers via Alexa – just as it’s sued over withheld tips | Science & Tech News

Amazon is inviting customers to use Alexa to “thank my driver” for deliveries during the busy holiday period, just as the company is sued for allegedly withholding tips.

To mark the milestone of 15 billion deliveries in the US since launching in 1994, the tech giant has invited its American customers to use their voice assistant to show their gratitude.

Anyone who says “Alexa, thank my driver” will see the person behind their last package notified of their appreciation, and the first one million will also be tipped $5 at no cost to the customer.

The gesture for the company’s “everyday heroes” was announced on the same day that the tech giant was sued by Washington DC for allegedly withholding tips from drivers.

The state’s attorney general, Karl Racine, said the firm “tricked consumers into thinking they were increasing drivers’ compensation when Amazon was actually diverting tips to reduce its own labor costs and increase profits”.

America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged last year that Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle, kept drivers’ tips over a two to two-and-a-half-year period.

It stopped the practice after learning of the FTC’s investigation in 2019, the watchdog said.

An Amazon spokesperson said the lawsuit is “without merit” as it “involves a practice we changed three years ago”.

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Amazon’s Alexa assistant can now be used to say ‘thanks’ to US delivery drivers

‘Stealing from workers is theft’

Washington’s lawsuit, filed in the district of Columbia, is seeking civil penalties for every violation and a court order to stop the company from re-engaging with the practice.

Amazon has already paid $61.7m to more than 140,000 drivers under a settlement with the FTC in 2021, and said it disagreed that the way it reported pay to drivers was unclear.

“We added additional clarity in 2019 and are pleased to put this matter behind us,” a spokesperson said at the time.

But Mr Racine said it has still “escaped appropriate accountability”.

“Stealing from workers is theft,” the attorney general added, “and significant penalties are necessary to strongly disincentivize this unlawful conduct.”

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