This guy is just a lying thief. There is no such program.
Edit: I should add that Amazon keeps track of your delivery metrics, including the percent that are undelivered/late/reported missing (DNR, did not receive)/etc. If you drop below some threshold you get kicked off the app. You get a weekly email with a summary of your stats. I think I had a couple DNRs out of the thousands of things I delivered, and was paranoid they were going to kick me off for them.
I would have had more reliable delivery if Amazon simply gave the packages to a meth head on a BMX bike.
Now in Oregon I ordered winter tires, Ontrac marked them delivered on the delivery date but never actually dropped them off, later and they decided to deliver 4 days later once I complained to the Shipper.
It's all anecdotal but the moment I see anything delivered by Ontrac I just assume it has a 50/50 chance of being actually delivered.
USPS does this in my area. I'll frequently get packages that are "out for delivery" switch to "delivered" at around 7:30 - 7:45 PM or so. Then they'll show up the next day.
This guy was probably just a Flex driver. I’ve had bad experiences with them, too, but OnTrac is much worse.
This... is an unlikely policy for Amazon to have.
HNers are reading a news story as clearly as it was written.
(to contrast, the other option is that HNers would make logical assumptions and making logical assumptions is quite illogical when it comes to how large corporations interact with sub-contractors)
That said, whether he's a secret career criminal or truly a first time offender his defense doesn't really seem like some sort of elaborate explanation he thought of in case he got caught up by the police. It more seems like a vague excuse or a vague lie... But...
Is it really outside of Amazon's realm to have policies that the average person / worker wouldn't agree with? Is it really outside of the public's knowledge that Amazon employees have at times commented about, posted about, and protest over working conditions or pay or break time or lunch time given or scrutiny over many other seemingly menial things that the average person wouldn't expect such a massive and profitable corporation to have enacted and enforced?
This all may mean nothing. Heck, I'll admit it all means nothing, but I'd love to hear an official comment from Amazon about the policy the accused thief mentioned. I'd also love to hear from Amazon employees who would have knowledge about whether such a policy existed or not. Either from a driver or other employees higher up on the food chain like lawyers, HR, or other corporate level employees who may have had to deal with such things directly if not directly dealt with such matters.
It's a bad cycle where absurd stuff (like "the Earth is plane") gets normalized by people repeating their surprised reactions. But there's no reason to think we are seeing anything besides people coping with an idea they will conclude is baseless.
Until you have concrete evidence to tilt your belief one way or another, the proper disposition is skepticism towards either position.
That was really awesome of them to do, especially around Christmas!
In the dystopian near-future, Amazon will start offering police departments these kinds of bait packages so they can reduce package theft...
... I guess we already have those for corporations, so extending it to individuals can't be much worse. But there's currently little meaningful competition to shake out what small-scale policies are better (e.g., the question of how much your police should care about package theft probably has basically the same answer throughout all of American suburbia) and it'd be interesting to see if people make the markets work efficiently (and leave ghost towns in the wake of bad decisions).
Not saying that's what happened -- lots of people might be pissed about the package-theft epidemic -- but it certainly could.
It certainly was nothing like just "fuzzy phone video". He had 360 degree video with fine detail clearly showing the thieves' faces up close, vehicles, and so on. His bait package also had GPS and several of the thieves took the packages home to open them. You can't have more condemning evidence. But this all begs the question. I expect that those thieves were indeed arrested, unlike the ones he caught on his home surveillance system stealing packages where indeed it was just some video snippets of the thieves taken from cameras several meters away.
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoxhDk-hwuo
Even if this was a normal shipment being stolen, you have to weigh all the costs in time, effort and tax-payer dollars being spent to arrest a suspect and prosecute. When most shipments are either insured and/or replaced for free, it's not worth police time on these petty crimes.
Beyond that the video also shows a second reason why these crimes need to be actively prosecuted. The creator and his friend trialed their trap packages for what couldn't have been all that long. Yet in that time period they caught around a half dozen thieves, probably around a dozen once you include accomplices. When crimes aren't prosecuted and you have the sort of people that would take advantage of this, you're incentivizing crime.
A third issue is that without enforcement you start to encourage vigilante justice, which can be disproportionate and extremely dangerous. In this case the retribution was good spirited and presumably aimed at embarrassing the police into action and getting some social media love. But you could just as well have somebody who created dangerous packages, or an armed individual seeking to engage in confrontation with the thieves.
And as an aside, with criminal theft it doesn't matter if the item is returned after stolen. A big difference between criminal offenses (including misdemeanors) and civil offenses is that the latter is generally about making material loss right again. The former seeks to right the material loss, but the punishment also includes purely punitive measures. Break a contract to the tune of $100 and you're generally on the line for $100 and some court costs. Steal the same amount and you're facing e.g. 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
The free part of insurement or replacing is a lie. If there is a 10% chance that your packega will be stolen/lost/break/whatever, then the shipping company ill add a secret 10% more to the price. You are paying for it. It's just that instead of an explicit extra charge that you can't opt out, this is marketed as a free feature.
How many stories out there have you read about this happening to people - small town, passing through, and they rape you on made up bs because it's hard for you to come back and go to court. How about all those small towns in the news where they steal all the cash out of your car?
Small town cops are not bad people - to the small town in which they live. Saying they are not bad people in general is opposite of the truth. It's like saying the nazis were great people because they were good to other nazis.
All of this bullshit is just a moneygrab.
Not sure I understand the program and how it benefits Amazon in any way.
(Remember that this article is quoting an arrested man; I think there's a good chance what he's saying is a lie. He's probably just stealing packages.)
Yes, but a mere claim by the accused that the policy exists with no supporting evidence of the policy is not the same thing as “a poorly designed incentive on Amazon's part”.
Perhaps returning too many of his own packages raises a red flag. Or perhaps it's $x per delivery and $y per return, and returning his own packages would eat into his $x.
I mean, I'm sure amazon have a check in place to stop you just picking up your packages in the morning, returning them in the evening, and picking up $y*packages. That's a little bit too obvious.
But it does seem returning packages that weren't yours should be noticed. Perhaps not impossible (red tape shouldn't get in the way of someone doing the right thing), but at least flagged (this has to look as fishy as it sounds).
- policy exists for drivers own packages or is poorly checked so that other packages can be returned for the $$ even though they are not that drivers
- thief is using loophole/lack of oversight in policy possibly along with feigned ignorance to make this excuse to make the theft seem like an accident
I also couldn't find anything about anyone getting paid, so either the arrested guy was lying or it's something new they're trying?
But if it's true, I'd say it's less of an incentive, and more of Amazon just compensating people who end up having to do more work.
Maybe the contact says shippers only have to fulfill 99% of their shipments, and leftover items (think a reason that makes delivery impossible) can be abandoned or returned for a kickback.
I don't know much about Amazon's shipment model, but either this guy is telling the truth and there's a system in place, or he's lying. Either way wouldn't surprise me.
So like you, I'm really curious about this alleged Amazon program.
I mean, I know it's still his fault. Still, I wish people would take time to think about these kinds of decisions though.
Poor him. All he did was abuse the trust that was placed in him by his employer. And now it will be harder for him to get a new employer to place trust in him. How unfair.
People are bloodthirsty because stealing packages is so much more personal than, say, shoplifting. The mail is personal. The shit you get shipped is personal. Especially around christmas. "Who the fuck steals the gift for my nana?"
And it's like, people don't usually even know what they're stealing. There's a damage&reward imbalance between the person who loses something of great potential sentimental value (it's not always amazon packages, sometimes it's stuff people send each other), just so that some petty thief has a shot at having something they care about / can make a profit on.
I'm with everyone else on this, fuck people who steal packages. Those and bike thieves.
I don't eat the losses, Amazon do. So technically you stole it from them. But just as my insurance company eat the losses if you steal my car, I'm still going to internalize it as "you stole my $item." And I can't help but judge that much more harshly than shoplifting from some faceless name.
It’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely more than retail theft.
stealing packages is so much more personal than, say, shoplifting
but I bet when people talk about wage theft and capitalist malfeasance this guy turns into a corporate lawyer.
I feel like it's much worse overall when those things have no repercussions...
Lots of people have a weak moral compass and get away with it. It comes down to power, not the weak moral compass.
His ability to get work will be greatly diminished because he is a thief.
afaik you're not liable if that happens (Amazon will send another for free), so why should you care?
Because you don't have the item you ordered until a second is sent?
Like paying for rat tails.
Usually each delivery contractor has a set delivery area because of this it's extremely obvious when you're given a bait package because it's usually got an address that's very much out of your way. Or the package will look really beat up. Most of the time it's the former in these cases. Where I saw the most theft happen was packages that had an address that couldn't be found, clearly marked items (ex. toilet paper in a branded box), or a driver genuinely misplaces a package inside the van so they mark it missing only to find it later in the day. Now you might ask: why not just bring a package back if there's a legitimate issue with it's delivery? You'll be marked down. So it's easier in many cases to simply rip off the label and abandon it or take it for yourself and hope you've been given something valuable.
Most of these guys are in rough situations, are under extreme pressure to perform (200 + deliveries in a day), and often aren't given benefts or a stable schedule. Turnover is extremely high, employee theft is absolutely rampant, and frankly it seems like Amazon never cared so long as there was a certain threshold of delivered packages for the day.
Sure when you are claiming multiple packages per week are on your manifest but not present in your van things get suspicious, but of course all they do is send you an extremely obvious bait package that you'll end up returning unless you're just stupid. Many of these drivers aren't lasting more than a year and almost all of them are gaming the system through the method I listed above so there's no reprecussion for doing the wrong thing and in most cases doing the right thing gets you a thank you coupled with a black mark on your record. I've seen easily over 10k worth of theft in my first few months I really do wonder how Amazon manages to stay in business.
> "This behavior is unacceptable and does not reflect the high standards we have for delivery partners," Amazon
so you build a delivery system with incentives to not deliver packages, then fire those with the temerity to game the system.
I think the incentive is to keep drivers from tossing undeliverable packages into the trash or just dumping them on the ground where the address should be even if it's a vacant lot.
Only a thief would treat it as an incentive to not deliver packages.
Lots of businesses make it easy for dishonest employees to steal from them, but it's still the employee's fault when he takes advantage of the system. When I was in college, bartenders were notorious for pouring double drinks for their friends (or pouring a drink and pocketing the money, etc)... and some bar owners tried to put expensive pour metering systems in place to combat it, but the ones I'm aware of were eventually disbanded because the system made making drinks more labor intensive, and labor was more expensive than some free booze. So even if bartenders can skim money, that doesn't mean they should or that it's the employer's fault for not doing more to stop it.
And what do you do with children of people entering the country illegally? Release them to their parents, and let their parents go home without punishment? Maybe that's what you prefer. But there are major trade-offs from having such a policy, in losing the ability to disincentivize illegal immigration, so it's not obvious it's the right stance.
It's easy to criticize society when you don't have a better alternate solution to difficult problems. You're mistaken if you think throwing your arms in the air and saying "to hell with it", and contributing to those problems, by justifying theft of property, won't make things worse. It will. The only constructive way forward is to do the right thing in every situation, and clearly the right thing is not to violate the trust your client/employer put in you and steal a package. Making excuses for this behaviour only encourages more people to go down this destructive path in life.
"Gaming" systems in reality can result in draconian, irreversible punishments. That _some_ systems are more permissive and allow people to exploit them once, twice, or more times before exercising punishments is no guarantee that _all_ systems will.
There is fault to be found with Amazon for designing a bad system. There is fault to be found with the driver for "gaming" a bad system. One does not excuse the other. Participants in a badly-designed system are not automatically empowered to disregard the rules and "game" that system.
TLDR: "An eye for an eye" may be an appealing strategy, but it is not universally accepted as valid.
Occam's Razor would suggest here that the driver was simply a thief who lied and gave an excuse that made himself look less guilty than if he'd stolen.
I don't see what is controversial about these definitions. If peons are going to be charged with serious crimes over dark patterns used for free advertising that eat up civic resources then follow through on the rest of the law..
He is guilty of violating ToS or fraud, (to whatever extent Amazon could believe he (regularly?) found 18 undelivered packages!?) but if this is theft then Amazon was encouraging and abetting theft.
The DA should really start the process of investigating this Amazon program to see if Amazon is benefiting materialy from returned packages not being claimed, etc, etc.
a) they re-attempt delivery, and it's zero-sum (with slightly raised logistics costs)
b) the package goes in the returns bin, and they send a new replacement (at a loss, returns aren't sold at ticket value)
c) the package goes in the returns bin, and the customer is refunded (also at a loss due to the devaluation of the return).
None of these options actually has amazon benefitting. The latter two just have them lose less.
The most likely thing I would suspect is an initial program intended to handle seasonal employees leaving packages at the wrong door, then being abused leading to needing to come back and scan before redelivery..
I don't see why Amazon didn't spend their quote denying they in anyway paid drivers for returns as it reads to me like they aren't really denying that they might have a dark incentive that they became reluctant to fix.
(The article reads a little like it is just local police beat, but then there should be nothing from Amazon.)
1) Took it inside?
2) Took it inside and called USPS/FedEx/UPS depending on the shipping label?
3) Took it into my car, and drove to a USPS/FedEx/UPS office depending on the label?
To add, I appreciate that there are efforts behind solving this problem. I'm living in an apartment, and I've had to deal with missing packages as well. I'd personally rather have legitimate packages have trackers, and then return or drop-off the tracker once I receive the package successfully. I understand the price would be high given the scale of my ask.
1) Cops show up and and say, "Hey, that was a bait package. Can we get it back?"
2) Same as 1), plus USPS/FedEx/UPS would be unable to locate the tracking number.
3) Cops pull you over, thinking you're a porch pirate. You tell them where you live, and they regret the error, and ask for their bait package back.
(But these scenarios probably wouldn't happen in the first place. I assume that the chosen bait locations were done with the knowledge of the residents.)
Also should add, I've had pretty bad luck with amazons hired drivers actually delivering packages on time or at all. When I lived in the city they'd often call me up asking me to meet them down on the street since they couldn't figure out how an apartment building worked.
Corporate policy, Access Point after 1 attempt is cheaper than 3 attempts when the resident is likely at work anyway. Driver release (most situations where the package is left at your house and the shipper didn't explicitly authorize it) is at driver discretion, it's their problem to a degree if something gets stolen.
I can kinda get the incentive (saving time) on signature-required packages, since it's faster to slap a label on the door than wait for someone to answer and sign for the thing.
But why do they do it on non-signature packages? It makes no sense.
I also think that package theft is reasonably rare - to the point that retailers are willing to put up with it and just re-ship the packages. I live in a major city and in a decade I've never had one package be taken (at 5 addresses in different neighborhoods). Personally, I wouldn't want them to attempt re-delivery for days and then tell me to come to their service center to pick it up.
Companies like UPS and Amazon also have options if you're worried about theft. UPS can leave it at lots of convenience stores for pickup. Amazon has their lockers all over the place.
Still, given that I've never had a single package stolen including shipments of laptops and such, I don't really want to have to travel to pick up my package.
The person sending the package can choose if the package is left at the door or if it requires a signature. Amazon and others like them have decided that the increased convenience is worth the occasional cost of reshooting a package.
Most of the country is somewhere between here and "thief follows UPS truck and steals all unattended packages," but there's lots of places where leaving packages unattended makes good economic sense.
Also, I'm not sure how it works outside the US, but here frequently packages with higher value items will require a signature and therefore wouldn't be left on a porch.
One option is to have the package delivered to the work address, or if you live in a building with a reception, the receptionist receives the package for you.
(Also, where I live a house's porch is normally behind the fence, so to leave a package in the porch it would have to be thrown over the gate.)
I mean, if it's a driver I'd report it right to Amazon. They'd probably care more than the police.
Even if their system has the flaw described by the theif, their package tracking system would be pretty poorly designed if it can't be trivially modified to prevent drivers from returning packages not assigned to them.
I imagine they also datamine non-delivery and missing package rates by neighborooh, day-of-week, driver, and a few other factors and flag suspicious drivers. This probably means having a given driver cover a patchwork of different neighborhoods on on irregular schedule to reduce the effect of a driver being unlucky enough to get assigned a high theft neighborhood on a high theft day of the week.
If they find the package return rates are really too high, it's easy enough to just pay all drivers to return to the warehouse at the end of their shift. However, that probably costs significantly more and is inconvenient for drivers.
Considering the demographic of the people who read Hacker News I would be willing to bet that most of you have never seriously considered having to steal to get by.
Arrest the thieves. Punish them as the law deems necessary. But do not demonize them. These glitter bombs and GPS devices are sad. These are non-violent property crimes. Cops have far more important things to do than protect your right to leave your new iPhone in public view all day.
Pay for proper delivery. Take the time to pick it up at a dropoff location. Have it sent to a neighbor who is home during the day. That's far easier than playing pathetic pranks on pathetic criminals.
It’s actually pretty common in a lot of places not to put much effort into securing valuables. In places with little property crime, people often leave their cars and houses unlocked.
Blame the thieves, not the victims.
Are you saying that dressing nice is approaching entrapment?
I can think of some similar arguments...
I could see an entrapment angle for something that appears to be abandoned property. Not for something that has very clear ownership, where you can expect that the owner is going to come for it in the near future.