The Los Angeles Times reports that Amazon “at times dips into the tips earned by contracted delivery drivers to cover their promised pay” - behavior for which delivery service Instacart has been roundly criticized.

The story says that “Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers.”

Amazon seems to willing to own the policy. In a statement, a spokesperson says that “our pay commitment to delivery partners has not changed since we launched the Amazon Flex program - delivery partners still earn $18-25 per hour, including 100% of tips - and on average drivers earn over $20/hour.”

The story notes that “drivers have long suspected that Amazon uses their tips to hit promised wage targets, according to five former and current drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. It has been hard for drivers to prove — the company does not provide them a breakdown of their compensation beyond showing the total paid out, citing privacy concerns.” But several drives tested the system by placing orders that they ended up delivering to their own homes, which allowed them to track the entire process.

KC's View: If the Amazon language is accurate, then I suppose it cannot be accused of being dishonest - it does say the pay “includes” 100 percent of tips. But it still strikes me as kind of cheesy, and maybe even purposefully opaque.

Amazon can do better. It should do better. I know it comes from two different budget lines, but if Amazon can spend $250 million to acquire the TV series rights to “Lord of the Rings,” then it can afford to pay its people properly and not nibble around the edges.