You can still say, 'thanks'

smart home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Each night, before I go to bed, I ask the Alexa-enabled Lenovo nightstand clock what the weather will be like. Last night, right after dutifully announcing the weirdly balmy weather, Alexa informed me that I could tip my Amazon driver $5 by saying, “Alexa, thank my driver.”

There are currently about 275,000 Amazon drivers (opens in new tab) delivering more than a billion (opens in new tab) holiday gift-carrying boxes, and making holiday dreams come true for consumers and, of course, Amazon. But what do drivers who carefully place these precious boxes at our doorsteps get out of it? Other than roughly $20 an hour, not much. Giving one of my drivers a tiny tip seemed like the least I could do.

“Alexa,” I said, “thank my driver.” I waited a moment for confirmation that some hardworking driver would get a tiny bit of cheer. Instead, Alexa informed me she did not understand the request.

I decided to contact Amazon because I had a few questions, Plus, when I posted the news on Twitter, people peppered me with their own queries about who gets paid and how.

Amazon representatives apologized for Alexa’s initial misstep, insisted that the feature is working as promised, and urged me to try again.

Who got paid?

Apparently, Amazon based the $5 tip on your most recent delivery. It might make sense to, as soon as you see a package on your doorstep, ask Alexa to thank the driver. Otherwise, the thanks might go to the next delivery and one that might not even be for you (perhaps it’s for another member of the household).

How long does the program run?

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can keep thanking your Amazon drivers as long as they deliver packages. The bad news is that the $5 tip promotion period, which was a US-only event, is over. 

“Alexa, thank my driver exceeded our expectations. We’re glad to see customers interested in thanking their drivers and encourage them to continue doing so. Drivers will continue to be notified of the gratitude received,” Amazon told me via email.

There are still some rules revolving around the Alexa gratitude system:

Amazon drivers can receive your thanks once per order. If they’re dropping off multiple orders in one visit, you could thank them for each order. We’re imagining a long list of thank yous on an Amazon driver’s mobile device.

The program, which began on Dec. 7, was set to deliver up to 1 million $5 tips to Amazon Flex Delivery Partners, Delivery Associates employed by Amazon Delivery Service Partners, and Hub DP drivers who deliver Amazon packages in the United States.

Finally, while you can open your front door and thank your Amazon driver directly, there is no other way to send thank yous through Amazon without the Alexa system. Fortunately, you can use it on Echo devices, Alexa in the Amazon App, and through Amazon’s Alexa app on your smartphone.

On the bright side, it’s heartening to see that so many people jumped at the chance to monetarily thank their hardworking Amazon drivers, but on the other, maybe Amazon could’ve earmarked a little more than $5 million to slow down the transition from gratuity to pure gratitude.

As I finished writing this, another holiday package arrived on my doorstep. I didn’t see the driver, so I went to my Echo device and said, “Alexa, thank my driver.” She instantly responded, “Glad you enjoyed your most recent delivery. We’ll share your thanks with the driver.”

I guess that’s better than nothing.

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Lance Ulanoff

US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff (opens in new tab) makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show (opens in new tab), Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC. 

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