Washington DC sues Amazon, claiming it stole tips • The Register

Amazon is again accused of stealing tips from delivery drivers and using the money to cut workers’ wages, this time in a lawsuit filed by Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine on Wednesday.

With Amazon Flex, people can make money by delivering packages for it with their own cars. The service has been running since 2015 and the drivers are considered independent contractors. Advertisements recruiting workers claim they can make between $18 and $25 an hour, not including tips.

But Amazon is accused of secretly deducting a “large chunk” of the tips drivers received from their hourly wages in 2016, meaning those drivers didn’t actually receive the extra money owed them, Racine claimed. The e-commerce giant not only steals drivers, it also lies to shoppers who believe 100 percent of the tips they pay go to delivery drivers in Washington DC, the lawsuit alleges.

“Workers in the District of Columbia and across our country are too often taken advantage of and not paid their hard-earned wages,” Racine said in a statement. “Additionally, consumers need to know where their tips are going. This lawsuit is about giving workers the tips they deserve and telling consumers the truth.”

“Amazon, one of the wealthiest companies in the world, certainly doesn’t have to accept tips belonging to workers. Amazon can and should do better.”

In 2019, Amazon was sued by the FTC, America’s consumer protection agency, for allegedly cheating drivers out of more than $61.7 million in payments. In 2021, Amazon settled the case and promised to return millions of dollars to more than 140,000 delivery companies. The FTC claimed Amazon didn’t stop stealing people’s tips until the business titan realized it was under federal investigation.

As part of that settlement, the mega-corporation admitted no wrongdoing. But DC AG is not happy about that. “[Amazon] has so far eluded reasonable liability, including civil penalties, for consumer harm,” Racine said. Under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), businesses are barred from misleading consumers by withholding information about their products or services Under the act, he hopes to hit Amazon over tipping-related shenanigans.

The Attorney General alleges that Amazon violated the CPPA by lying to shoppers about tipping delivery drivers, specifically by boasting that 100 percent of the money would go to the workers. Racine wants judges to sanction Amazon for every instance it violated the DC CPPA and issue a court order that would ensure the multi-billion dollar multinational could never again accept tips from drivers.

Amazon downplayed Racine’s lawsuit, saying it had paid back money already owed to drivers as part of the broader FTC settlement.

“Nothing is more important to us than customer trust,” said Maria Boschetti, a public relations spokeswoman for Amazon The registry in an opinion. “This lawsuit addresses a practice we changed three years ago and is unfounded – all disputed customer tips were paid to drivers last year as part of a settlement with the FTC.” ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/12/07/washington_amazon_tips_lawsuit/ Washington DC sues Amazon, claiming it stole tips • The Register

Rick Schindler

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