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Amazon Flex is great. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it pays well. Despite the numerous advantages the service has to offer, there is one issue sending drivers into fits of frustration: grabbing Amazon Flex blocks.
For couriers, the amount of Amazon Flex blocks claimed directly relates to how much money they make. Many drivers find that they are getting assigned few or no blocks, which means less money at the end of the day.
Today, we’re going to look into the issue and find out what’s happening and how drivers can claim more blocks and make more money. Let’s get started.
- How To Get More Amazon Flex Blocks
- Getting Amazon Flex Logistics Blocks
- Prime Now Amazon Flex Blocks
How To Get More Amazon Flex Blocks
Amazon Flex Peak Season
As I write this post, we are in peak season, one of the busiest times of the year for Flex drivers. This means people are ordering gifts and volume is growing, and it’s only expected to get heavier as the holidays approach.
This is good for the Amazon Flex driver struggling to get blocks. With the increased volume, the number of blocks increase. It’s simple math.
I know at my DC, blocks are dropping all day long. I can log in just about any time and pick up a block if I want to. There’s plenty of work to go around and drivers are taking advantage of it.
What we haven’t seen yet this year are increased rates but fear not, they are coming. Amazon had a onboarding binge just before peak and currently the program is full of eager drivers looking to make extra bucks. However, porch pirates are out in force and many drivers, new and old, are finding themselves on the receiving end of a deactivation email.
Drivers are being deactivated and some drivers are just getting burnt out, peak is exhausting. Despite this, volume will continue to increase. Demand for drivers will increase and Amazon will put money where their mouth is.
The problem we all have to consider with peak is that it doesn’t last. Come January, blocks will be far more difficult to grab, increased rates will only come with inclement weather, and many drivers will be frantically competing for blocks. If you’re not prepared for the peak hangover, it’s going to hurt.
Caps on Blocks
Amazon recently responded to lawsuits by limiting the number of hours Flex drivers can obtain. This has hit many drivers hard. Caps are currently lifted or increased in places but they will return after peak.
Amazon Flex, at its inception, was intended as a side gig. Some drivers have utilized the program as full time income. As a side gig, Flex is the best hustle out there. With the caps in place, Amazon Flex is no longer viable as a full time source of income.
Caps are set in three categories; monthly, weekly, and daily. They are based on the government’s definition of full time versus part time employment. It’s meant to protect the company from further lawsuits demanding benefits and overtime compensation.
It’s the nature of the beast. Some DCs may have different caps but the general consensus revolves around these parameters.
The monthly, or rolling 30 day, cap is set at 116 hours. This means you can only obtain blocks if you have worked less than 116 hours in the thirty days prior to the current date. If you have met this limit, you will not see blocks. You can swipe all day long but you will see nothing.
This may be where it could be advantageous for you to track your hours. If you know that thirty days ago you picked up two three-hour blocks, then the next day you can pick up six hours or less worth of blocks.
The weekly cap is 29 hours and the daily cap is 7 hours. Be aware once these caps are back in place, it will be very possible that in January, you may not be able to work for some time. Again, be prepared.
Getting Amazon Flex Logistics Blocks
On Demand Blocks
In comparison to all the programs covered by Amazon Flex, logistics has the best block availability. This is due to being the most volume heavy portion of the program.
Logistics is responsible for the everyday last-mile delivery services of Amazon. The company has shifted away from using the major commercial carriers like USPS or UPS in heavily populated areas. Flex and DSPs are now the primary sources of final delivery services.
The volume may be higher with logistics but it is also the part of Flex with the most drivers competing for blocks. As independent contractors you are in competition with others looking to pick up work and drivers aren’t always interested in helping others compete. It’s self-defeating. If you help another driver get a block, that could have been a block you grabbed instead.
If you want to make sure to get blocks, you have to do some investigation first. You have to learn your DC’s patterns.
Look on Facebook for groups for your assigned DC. There are almost always other drivers willing to help. When you see screenshots posted of block availability, look at the time in the screenshot. That will give insight into when blocks are made available by your DC. At the Nashville DC (BNA5), daytime blocks often come available overnight – in the early hours of the morning. Evening blocks are usually dropped in the mid- afternoon hours.
If you’re not interested in refreshing for hours while you could be sleeping, your only other option is to refresh frequently in the hopes of picking up a block dropped by another driver.
If you are the type to refresh and quickly grab blocks, keep in the mind the drop limits. You have up until 45 minutes prior to the block start time to drop the block without penalty. If you pick up a block with less than 45 minutes until start time, you have only a couple minutes to drop without penalty.
If you cannot make it to the DC in time for your block’s start time, don’t accept the block. Be aware of what you are picking up when you click accept. DCs are cracking down on late arrivals and you could find yourself deactivated for missing blocks after being late.
Occasionally there are circumstances that make picking up blocks easier.
Inclement weather often results in block availability for several reasons. Some drivers just don’t want to deliver packages in the rain. Others aren’t able to drive in snow or ice. Often, you’ll see increased rates and also potential incentives added when roads are difficult to travel.
If you’re comfortable driving in these situations, take advantage of it.
Another circumstance you might see is late trucks. If this occurs, the DC is forced to cut routes in half to accommodate time restrictions. That means there will be twice as many blocks available. Again, it’s likely to see increased rates in these circumstances as well.
If you have difficulty picking up “on demand” blocks, then reserved blocks are your saving grace. You are not required to accept the reserves sent to you.
All too often independent contractors look at their reserves as their assigned work schedule. You are not an employee, you work when you want and when you can. It’s okay to decline a reserved block.
If you do decline the blocks, you may be offered other reserved blocks but don’t expect it.
Prime Now Amazon Flex Blocks
The volume for these Flex programs is extremely small in comparison to that of logistics. Smaller volumes mean less block availability. These programs have less drivers participating but the competition for blocks is fierce.
Prime Now drivers will actually sit in their cars, outside the DC, refreshing almost constantly in the hopes of catching a block. If a customer orders something to be delivered within an hour, these are the blocks that are usually dropped at random during the day.
Prime Now blocks are categorized in similar fashion to logistics blocks. You’ll have your reserved blocks and the occasional on demand blocks.
It’s not uncommon to arrive for your reserve block and be given only a couple deliveries and nothing else. It’s all dependent upon customers ordering. In bad weather, volume will increase because people don’t want to leave their home and ordering from Prime Now is an option.
If you’re an avid Prime Now driver, reserved blocks are your best bet for work.
It’s also thought that some of the offers are GPS dependent. If you’re not at the DC, you won’t see on demand blocks almost at all.
Third Party Apps/Clickers
The use of third party apps or clickers is tempting but it’s also against the Amazon Flex Terms of Service. These auto-clickers will grab blocks even when you’re not sitting on your phone. People using these have a distinct advantage over people not using them.
Amazon is doing their best to eliminate use of these “block-grabbing” apps. One way they’re trying to do this is by not allowing the Flex app to run on rooted phones. Many auto-clicking apps require the device to be rooted.
Some may argue that nowhere in the TOS does it disallow the use of third party apps. That’s all well and good but your argument will likely not matter in a deactivation appeal.
In regards to third party apps, don’t use them.
Paid Block Services
There are some out there offering block grabbing “services”. They guarantee that they’ll get you all the hours you want but for a fee. Some have made decent money performing this service and you might be tempted to employ one.
What you may not want to do is pay their 25% fees for the blocks they get you. You’d be paying them $4.50 for every hour they get you – that’s $13.50 for a three-hour block.
It’s ridiculous to think this is even to your advantage. After buying gas and paying these clowns, you would barely make minimum wage. You’d make more money working inside the DC as an employee for Amazon.
In addition, it’s a good likelihood that these people are using third party apps to get you those blocks and would potentially result in your deactivation. You also have to provide your login credentials to them. I don’t see how anybody could think that’s a good idea. You don’t know how securely they will hold your information and since your Flex account is based in the whole Amazon web domain, they could potentially gain access to your Amazon shopping account.
And lastly, if you use one of these people to get blocks, you’ll very likely get roasted in the Facebook groups. I’m not kidding. Navigate over to any medium to large sized Facebook group about Amazon Flex and ask them about the guys selling services to get drivers more blocks. Then sit back and watch what happens.
Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.
In summary, there’s a few ways to get more Amazon Flex blocks as long as a driver is smart about when, where, and for what service they work. While there are easy ways to increase the amount of blocks you get, it’s still important to note that drivers should treat this like a part time job, not full time.
Now I want to hear from you. What have you done to increase the likelihood of getting more blocks? Let me know by dropping a comment below!
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.