business news in context, analysis with attitude

First, there's this story from the Washington Post:

"D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine … announced that his office had filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that the e-commerce giant stole tips from drivers and deceived consumers about the tipping model.

"The lawsuit alleges that Amazon used deceptive methods to lead consumers to believe that tip money went directly to drivers, when it actually was being used to subsidize wages … The lawsuit concerns Amazon Flex, a service launched in 2015 that offers quick deliveries. When it was launched, the company encouraged consumers to tip delivery drivers and assured that 100 percent of the tip would go to the drivers.

According to the lawsuit, in 2016, Amazon changed the model so drivers could no longer see the tip amounts from each delivery, and a large portion of the tips were instead used to pay wages already promised to the drivers. The lawsuit further alleges that the company deceived consumers and workers about the model by hiding the reality of the tip policy.

"An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that the lawsuit was without merit, adding that the company had changed its model in 2019 and that it had a compensation framework that ensures D.C. drivers earn more than the District’s minimum wage."

And then … go figure … completely separately (?), there was this announcement from Amazon:

"Customers can say 'Alexa, thank my driver,' and the driver of their most recent delivery will be notified of their gratitude. Drivers who receive the first 1M thank-you’s will also receive $5 per thank you!

"Since Amazon opened its digital doors in 1994, not only has selection grown, but so has the ability to deliver quickly and conveniently. So much so, that we hit a major package milestone - 15 billion Amazon packages delivered in the U.S. But for drivers, it’s more than just the packages that they deliver - they form relationships with customers, provide support to the community in tough moments, and sometimes play the role of the unexpected hero … Now, we’ll provide customers with the opportunity to say thanks each and every day—with the help of Alexa. We developed an Alexa feature that allows customers to directly thank their drivers for making their deliveries. This new feature is available to U.S. customers with an Alexa-enabled device (Echo, Echo Show) or the Alexa or Amazon Shopping mobile apps, making it easy to thank drivers in the U.S. anywhere.

"Starting December 7, any time a customer says 'Alexa, thank my driver,' the driver who delivered their most recent package will be notified of the customer’s appreciation. And, in celebration of this new feature, with each thank-you received from customers, drivers will also receive an additional $5, at no cost to the customer. We’ll be doing this for the first 1 million thank-you’s received. And, the five drivers who receive the most customer 'thank-you’s' during the promotional period, will also be rewarded with $10,000 and an additional $10,000 to their charity of choice."