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Dedham residents deliver message to Amazon: Do something about your marauding white vans

Residents living near an Amazon warehouse on the Dedham/Readville line tonight recited a litany of complaints that go back months: Van drivers who drive like maniacs, hog local gas stations in the morning and flip off other motorists.

And then there was that night back in July when a driver of a tractor-trailer making a delivery at the warehouse took down a utility pole, plunging the neighborhood into darkness. At a meeting at the Village Manor on Sprague Street, just down from the warehouse, one resident waved copies of e-mails and invoices related to the $1,500 in damage he said the driver caused to his property specifically. Amazon, he said, is refusing to reimburse him and every time he talks to somebody at the company, he gets passed off to somebody else.

Dan Barrett, who runs the Sprague Steet warehouse, and an Amazon mucky-muck up from Washington vowed to fix the problems.

"This is a work in progress, but we're going to get it right," Barrett said.

Barrett said he's already sent out directives that the drivers of the 130 vans that now work out of Sprague Street - who work for companies that work for Amazon - fill up wherever they end up at the end of their shifts, not first thing in the morning in Dedham.

He expressed suprise when residents told him that hadn't worked.

Dedham Selectmen Chairman Dennis Guilfoyle, who also lives in the area, acknowledged some drivers are no longer gassing up just down the street from the warehouse - but only because they've discovered a couple of gas stations in the Riverdale neighborhood, where, every morning between 8:15 and 8:30, numerous white vans pile into the gas stations there, all at once. "They don't even pull in normally," some winding up "ass end in the road," he said.

Ron Brock, who lives near the warehouse, said the neighborhood never had any problems with other companies in the area - including Stop & Shop, which once had a huge warehouse over the line in Readville.

"Now all of a sudden Amazon moves in and it's a giant problem," he said, adding, "I haven't seen one of your vans that hasn't got a dent in it."

"They're all smashed up, so they're hitting somebody," Guilfoyle said.

While none of the 20 residents at the meeting reported seeing van crashes first hand, they said that might only be because they've been lucky. A resident who lives directly across from the warehouse entrance said van drivers shoot out of there like they're leaving the starting line at the Indianapolis 500. One woman who bicycles down Sprague Street said the van drivers often just barrel past the stop signs at the Readville side of the Sprague Street bridge - and that when she's said something to them, they just flipped her off.

One resident recalled the bare-knuckle driving she's been forced to do when she somehow gets surrounded by a swarm of the vans. "They're riding people's bumpers, they're making gestures if you're not going fast enough. ... It can be very scary."

Barrett said drivers are supposed to obey the rules of the road and that not doing so makes drivers subject to termination. He said Amazon will be installing "telematics" systems in subcontractor vans that can provide a readout of sudden acceleration, unusual breaking and speeding. And he said he liked a suggestion by Guilfoyle to number all the vans, to make them easier to report. Currently, the vans only have a magnetic Amazon sign on them - at the request of police in Boston and Dedham.

"I can't remember if the van is from Colorado that cuts me off or the Illinois van," he said, noting that almost none of the vans have Massachusetts plates.

Other residents said one particular Amazon worker who works overnight has a faulty alarm system in his personal car that goes off pretty much every night, for 20 minutes at a time. He eventually saunters out to reset it - and then it goes off again, they said.

Barrett said residents should feel free to walk into the warehouse's side door and ask to speak to a manager. He added the company has installed high-def surveillance cameras on the property to help prevent a recurrence of an incident in July when drivers from competing subcontractors got into a fight when one tried to pick up his orders early - during the other driver's scheduled time.

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Comments

As others have said, the best way to stop these problems is to unionize the drivers. Once the drivers are paid better and not subjected to unreasonable delivery demands the problems people are complaining about will be cut down drastically.

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you know...Amazon getting its act together wrt running a warehouse.

Many places that have fleets of vehicles coming in and out have their own on-site fuel distribution. They also put "how's my driving" labels on their vehicles (as was suggested in TFA).

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The "How's my driving" stickers don't mean squat if the company disregards complaints. Read up on Amazon's warehouse workers and how they are expected to pick more items from shelves then is humanly possible in the time allotted. They are applying the same logic to their drivers.

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Amazon's exploitation of its warehouse workers is certainly the model they are applying to these van drivers. Near-inhuman quotas of deliveries, forcing the workers to move at top speed at all times; little-to-no attention to worker safety; lowest-possible wages, and no job security at all.

I lived for some years near a very large UPS terminal, and while it was not without problems, the drivers were, for the most part, well-behaved.

Amazon.com is not always -- or even most of the time -- the cheapest place to buy things. A little research will usually turn up better prices elsewhere. Their algorithms sometimes push more expensive options at you, without any way for you to tell.

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Amazon is the new Walmart. Except instead of having prices too low to resist, it's the convenience of free two/next day delivery and not having to lug tons of shopping bags on the stupid bus. But the whole company is rife with employee abuse and shady dealings.

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One of my personal faves...

Amazon was having warehouse workers clock out, and then not letting them leave the premises until they had gone through a personal goods search. For theft.

It could take almost a half hour to pass through this, and since they had already clocked out, they weren't getting paid to stand in line, locked in on their employers premises.

He lost that one. Hope he loses this one too.

Jimmy Hoffa, you're being paged in Readville and Dedham this morning...

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Unfortunately, SCOTUS sided with Amazon and not the workers on the clockout issue.

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Actually Amazon is extremely responsive to customer complaints. Worker complaints, not so much. Seriously, if you see a driver doing something problematic, email [email protected]. I would be willing to bet a fair amount that they'll take care of the problem.

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I would be willing to bet a fair amount that nobody reads the incoming mail on that address.

If you're not a paying customer inquiring about a specific order at Amazon, I doubt they give a flying fuck.

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Google Jeff Bezos question mark email.
Emails to that absolutely get read by a human.

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You don't have to look far to find countless examples of Amazon's shoddy treatment of both blue- and white-collar employees. I can't imagine why this would ever become an exception.

And yet, I still can't help but order from them for lots of things. I'm hooked.

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Making it really really hard to discipline or terminate the drivers is going to improve service? Crazy talk.

And what if the drivers don't want to send a chunk of their paycheck to some union every single month? I guess that doesn't matter?

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Is working out so well for the community

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Both the drivers and the pickers will be replaced by robots within 10 years.

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...what if the drivers don't want to send a chunk of their paycheck to some union

There's this thing called the National Labor Relations Act. Been around since FDR. If there's a unionization effort, the employees get to vote. Simple majority determines the result.

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The point of the drivers unionizing is because right now they have low wages and low incentive to work well [such as driving carefully]. Because as individuals they have no bargaining power they can't procure [as individuals] the things that will make them better employees, with better morale. If they are bargaining as a collective, as a union, they have much more power in the negotiations. And thus can ensure they get fair wages, safe working conditions, and job security. And with those fair[er] wages some portion going to sustain the union is not a hardship.

In the end Amazon wins too with unionized workers, because even though they are initially getting slightly less profit per sale, they are getting workers who will work harder and be better representatives for the company. And that in turn drives even more sales so that in the end the company profits just as much if not more.

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Unions... see the MBTA.

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Union workers drive more sales to Amazon?
I disagree. To me that's pretty far fetched. Amazon sells itself. Competitive pricing, ease of ordering and returning, delivery right to your door.

I've never given a thought to their drivers being union or not, and I really don't care. Being in a union doesn't make them obey traffic laws any better.

Whomever delivers in my neighborhood does a good job. He/she puts packages by the backdoor so they are out of view from the street, and whenever I encounter them they are pleasant.

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Same with my anazon driver

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please explain the historical behavior and performance of T workers. Similarly, how has the existence of a CBA for law enforcement worked out for obtaining attitude and behavior concessions the tax payers desire or demand.

Connecting increased wages as a valid method to achieve improved employee performance, motivation or productivity has pretty much been discredited by a myriad studies dating back more than 40 years ago.

Pay is important in the sense that if you want to attract the best people for a particular type of work, you have to pay market competitive wages. You don't need an organized labor force to obtain a high performance, customer relations oriented workforce - you set a hiring criteria that screens for those qualities in your perspective employees…pay them fairly (market competitive), train them well, recognized positive performance and weed out those individuals who fail to perform according to expectations.

Organizational performance and conduct problems are directly connected to the hiring and selection process. If you have marginal people making hiring decisions, you undoubtedly will see marginal people being hired. Similarly, the workplace culture is set by the person supervising the workforce. If a supervisor is not directly involved in monitoring his or her workers, you can't correct problems.

I am not inherently against unions…in fact, when management doesn't take care of or watch out for its people, the door is opened for unions to step in to do it for the organization. The idea that a CBA is going to correct a dysfunction workforce is simply not supported by fact or reason.

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Unions work best when it's the union (representing workers interests) versus capitalist (representing the business' interests) to create a balance between profit at all cost and pure lazy spoils.

The public sector is so fundamentally different from private, at all levels of management and literally how they are permitted to operate on a day to day level, that public sector unions are sort of misplaced and have been stripped of their most major benefits. Ergo the entire system becomes even more dysfunctional than the bureaucracy would have been already.

Source: public sector employee who supports private unions.

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Unionize? Will you complain when your Prime membership increases to $199 per year? Cause unionizing has really fixed the problems with the MTBA

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It's up to the local citizens to fight back.

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the best way to stop these problems is to unionize the drivers.

You're a very funny person. And you've also obviously never driven trucks. And probably never been in a union. UPS drivers are in a union, and they are worked like dogs. The work rules are so strict that the management can take your job away any time they want by following you around and writing you up for 'violations.' And traffic is no excuse for not making your drops. The organized workers at UPS are in a slave shop. Their pay is higher than industry average, but they earn it the hard way.

{former truck driver}

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Oh, boo hoo. My God, white people are atrocious.

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Just white people? I think your racism is showing.

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Will LaTulippe is an Equal Opportunity Offender.

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just a special kind of stupid.

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Kiss my ass.

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Classy.

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I can tell that your entire IQ must have gone into the composition of that witty rejoinder.

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Better?

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And you are good at being a troll.

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I aim to eradicate boredom by busting balls on the Internet with people with whom I would be friendly in real life. Well, most of you, anyway.

One of these days, I'll pursue education or some kind of job training alongside another job, and then you won't have my humor around here as much anymore.

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Amazon drivers consistently just toss my packages on the front steps and leave without ringing the bell or making any attempt to find out if anyone is home. I wish they were a little more conscientious. And it seems random as to when something I've ordered through Amazon comes via the US Postal Service or is delivered by one of these toss-and-run drivers.

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Everyone I know in Allston and Brighton has the opposite problem, they call you over and over using phones that have poor reception asking if you are home, but having the call crap out before you can tell them to leave the package.

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They left my package with a neighbor that was walking by. A good neighbor he is, but not someone that if I was a deliveryman, would automatically think, oh hey this looks like a good person to leave a valuable item with!

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So do UPS and FedEx drivers. Once in a while you may get a courtesy knock. And what does USPS have to do with this? Amazon's goal is to get the package to you as quickly and cheaply as possible, so they will hand it off to whomever.

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In the short time Amazon drivers have been on the streets, I've had two bad encounters with them.

Compared to no such bad experiences ever with UPS, Fedex, or USPS package delivery drivers.

I also see Amazon drivers driving up onto sidewalks, parking across crosswalks, etc.

Amazon is not sending down the right priorities for the drivers. Or maybe this is a prison work release program.

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UPS, FedEx, and USPS park on sidewalks, in crosswalks, in bike lanes, block bus stops, and double park daily in Boston and Cambridge.

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Basically anyone who drives for a living does this. They don't care if they are putting peoples lives in danger. Giving them tickets does nothing because they'll just pass the cost onto the consumer. The only way to stop them is to put up barriers protecting sidewalks, bike lanes etc or somehow suspend their licenses.

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Send around the big ol' towtrucks, and start towing delivery trucks parked in ways that are dangerous to peds or cyclists.

You can bet UPS et al would work a whole lot harder at timing deliveries off hours, getting new loading zones sited, etc.

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There was an Amazon van parked illegally in the crosswalk next to Albert's Market on Fulkerson Street (just before 6PM), while a UPS truck was parked on the corner, making it difficult to cross the street. Very annoying.

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The other day as I was coming home, the Amazon driver parked in the way to the parking lot of my building, expecting me to "go around" him. Yeah, not happening, when that would make me drive between your white van and the brick wall of my building. He said I had space to go around (I didn't) and got mad when I told him FIVE TIMES that I was not gonna deal with that.

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not waived.

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Fixed, thanks.

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Don't do anything to hurt Amazon!

Especially all this talk about unions. Yeeesh. That'll kill the golden goose dead.

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constitutes a valid sampling considering how many folks live in that area.

In regards to their rather weak arguments: Poor drivers abound in Dedham, where I live, as in any area. On any given day when I am out driving, I might see folks who like to tail gate, speed and, at times, go through red lights and stop signs. I live on a a busy street where many vehicles drive irresponsibly. In regards to Amazon vans "hogging" the gas station pumps, well, they have to gas up before they do their runs and this will happen early in the morning. Unless Amazon puts in its own gas station at its facility, the drivers will go to the closest station.

Now I have seen the vans around town and they have never given me any cause to concern. The vans that I have seen don't look "smashed up". The complainer assumed that this may be because that they (Amazon) are reckless drivers hitting things; the alternative could also be true that reckless drivers hit the Amazon vans.

The guy who has $1,500 in alleged damage - well - what was it? Did the pole hit his house, take out a tree on his property, damage his car, or just cause dents in his lawn? Does he have any insurance that may cover the damage? What exactly is he trying to get compensation for and does he have a valid claim? Accidents happen. I am sure the tractor trailer driver did not intend to take down a pole. And we do not have Amazon's side to his story.

In regards to the Amazon worker and his car alarm, again, nothing to do with Amazon the company. Car alarms are a nuisance but in every neighborhood.

Does this Amazon facility have a higher percentage of bad drivers? I don't know. Perhaps. If they are subcontracting out, the subcontractor may be paying peanuts and getting monkeys. Methinks, however, this might be a case of some folks who just don't like the additional van traffic and/or Amazon.

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Actually it is a decent sampling.

In any situation like this only about 5% to 6% of people already concerned will take the time to attend a meeting and vocalize their concerns. Then there is the rest that are pissed off but either don't bother or are not able to attend when meetings are called.\\Keep in mind this is predominantly an industrial area and these are likely the immediate abutters

Now to some specifics...

I find it interesting that numerous vans get lined up at specific gas stations. If these are the cheapest gas around then this suggests these drivers are responsible for filling the tank out of pocket. If so their agreement to run the van is very much like a person renting a taxi to drive for the day. If so then they need to hustle like a taxi driver to make a decent living. Most commercial venues I am aware of set up a gasoline account with 1 or 2 stations and have all fleet vehicles go there at all times since they assume cost. Sounds like this is not the case.

If the vans have out-of-state plates, all the local PD needs to do is take an inventory and after 30 days if they see them again they stop the van and tow it for violating the state requirements to be registered locally. Of course if Amazon has registered them as common carriers then the license plate, and associated state inspection is irrelevant. UHAUL is set up that way. SOL Charlie.

They could also set up selective enforcement on either end of Sprague Street and nail the speeders and bad drivers. Word will get out quickly and it will stop.

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"Methinks, however, this might be a case of some folks who just don't like the additional van traffic and/or Amazon."

Or people who like to complain incessantly.

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The residents need get video of these things. There should be some kind of trail of 311 complaints and citations.

As for "hogging the gas stations", I think they are being a little short sighted. That is good for the local economy.

I agree that the drivers are behaving badly because they are underplayed subcontractors. As long as they are paid by delivery, they will drive like maniacs.

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This wasn't a townwide meeting - Amazon is actually meeting separately with the Planning Board. It was for people living in the relatively small part of town just off Sprague Street by the Hyde Park line about the specifics of the warehouse's impact on their local streets (to be honest, I went to the meeting because I'd heard some Amazon grumbling in Readville, too). So 20 is actually a pretty good representation.

And now that I think of it, there were a couple issues I left out of my original report, both very specific to that neighborhood, both of which seemed to have been resolved (as opposed to the equally local issue of the guy with the car alarm):

Some drivers were getting lost on their way to the place, so they were zipping into the side streets and stopping in front of people's driveways while they figured out they'd have to turn around or whatever. Amazon put up signs pointing to the warehouse. And after picking up their packages, drivers were stopping in front of people's driveways to adjust their loads. Amazon made some change to end that.

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Those complaining, have they considered getting gas at night, instead of the AM when the trucks are hogging up the pumps? You know you're allowed to store a fresh tank of a gas in your driveway overnight, yes?

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Roll over and take it then you're saying, Steeve, yes? Do you ever speak up for yourself? These residents are and good for them!

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But what I'm saying, is regardless of this issue, what they're doing is completely illogical. Why put yourself at risk of running late to work because you choose to wait until right before you go to work to fill up your gas tank? "Hey, look, Ol' Gassyhands McGee is 5 minutes late again today!" "You'll never believe what those Amazon drivers..." "Why not fill up your tank at night?" "Because morning is my favorite!"

These are two separate issues. And frankly, one of them is only an issue because it's interfering with what is a relatively dumb practice. Hell, you could get 10 minutes of extra sleep each morning if you stopped doing that, but who am I to judge?

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After fighting traffic for 30, 40, X minutes, the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is get gas. You just want to get home, take your shoes off, have dinner, relax.

Yes, you can stop for gas on the way home. But when you're set in a particular routine, one you and your neighbors have done for decades, it's jarring to see somebody else come in and force you to change that. Yes, yes, First World Problem and all, but still. At one point, Barrett said something like "We realize we're coming into your neighborhood, you're not coming into ours."

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So we're going to continue to do nothing about that as a society, huh? Nope, these pesky delivery drivers can't buy gas between eight and nine AM! That's the only fix!

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These drivers have been fighting traffic for 8 hours. And as contractors, they don't even know if they will get work the next day. So I can see why they don't stop and fill up their tanks.

plus it seems unfair to take all the business away from the local gas station.

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who acknowledges the idea you incorporated Dedham Mauraders into your headline! :)

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I wish I had seen this sooner. I almost got hit by one of these vans on Hyde Park Ave. The light turned Red on Hyde Park ave, but the driver decided to make a turn when the light was green towards me. I've seen this plenty of times by regular drivers, but it was a RIDICULOUSLY late turn and shameful to see from a commercial vehicle! I wonder if it's bad driving or pressure to make quick deliveries.

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These "drivers" are a nightmare all over MA! I have friends in a lot of other towns complaining about their driving. Not to mention they seem to be the worst in Hyde Park...and SO rude. Cutting cars off, while on their phones. Yelling out the windows. Where are the "How is my driving" stickers? I stuck my phone out the window and snapped a picture of his van ID number to complain. It's out of control.

I'm wondering if they hire them all from the "I just flunked my drivers test line" at the DMV.

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