AWS Outage Grinds Amazon Warehouses and Deliveries to a Halt

There’s a mix of frustration and joy from workers as AWS outages cause chaos with Amazon’s delivery infrastructure during its busy season.
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Image: Ronny Hartmann/picture alliance via Getty Images
On the Clock is Motherboard's reporting on the organized labor movement, gig work, automation, and the future of work.


Websites and online services (including Motherboard) are experiencing outages and technical difficulties around the world because of an ongoing Amazon Web Services outage. Meanwhile, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers and delivery drivers say the company's delivery infrastructure has ground to a halt and generally been thrown into chaos because the Flex app used for critical delivery operations and the Dolphin app, which is used for time tracking and other operations, have been down all morning.

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“There is an AWS service event in the US-East Region (Virginia) affecting Amazon Operations and other customers with resources running from this region,” said Richard Rocha, an Amazon spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement. “The AWS team is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

Motherboard spoke to two owners of Amazon delivery companies in Minnesota and Florida who confirmed that most of their drivers could not log in to the Flex app this morning because of the outage. “AWS servers are down, and only about 50 % of my people can deliver. Most cannot login,” an Amazon delivery company owner in Clearwater, Florida told Motherboard, noting that the outage would cause serious delays in Amazon package delivery. 

Hundreds of Amazon workers have posted about the issue on Facebook and Reddit, saying they and their coworkers aren't doing any work during the outage, which comes during the busiest delivery season of the year.

“I am making more money than Jeff bezos in this moment. Right now everything is down world wide and I am still getting paid double over time. Amazon is on stand still so I sure this second alone he is losing $$$$$,” one worker posted on the FASCAmazon subreddit, which is for Amazon fulfillment center and delivery station employees. Currently there are five separate threads about the issue on the subreddit, with dozens of people stating that they have been unable to do any work for hours. Workers reported outages in Dallas, Charlotte, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Chicago, Phoenix, Michigan, Jacksonville, Ontario, and many other cities and states.

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“We’ve just been chillin on the clock for almost 2 hours cause the network has been down lmaooo. Guess somebody didn’t like the fact Amazon is making us work Christmas/Christmas eve,” one person posted on the subreddit. 

“The warehouse never been so quiet it’s eerie,” another added. 

"I’m loving just sitting here on my phone," another posted. "They can only tell us to make sure our area is clean so many times."

One worker published a photo of a handheld device used for scanning packages that shows the message “Login Failed. You are not authorized to use Dolphin. Please contact your Nation Manager. ERROR.” That worker said their managers were trying to figure out a manual way to continue warehouse operations.

On the Facebook group “Amazon Delivery Driver Venting and Troubleshooting Group,” which has close to 9,000 members, some Amazon delivery drivers celebrated the outage on a post with more than 200 comments. One worker posted a photo of a series of parked Amazon warehouse vehicles and driver mulling about with nothing to do in the warehouse. 

“Yo its down??? AYYYE maybe we dont have to work today,” an Amazon delivery driver wrote, adding a series of cracking up emojis. 

“I’m not working today, but [my warehouse in Idaho] is eating shit,” another delivery driver wrote.  

“Looks like we’re getting paid to sit on the clock, works for me,” another delivery driver wrote, adding a series of party hat emojis. 

The Flex app is used by Amazon delivery drivers and Amazon Flex gig workers to route their package deliveries. AWS goes down from time to time, but outages are usually short; this outage has lasted for several hours and comes at the height of Amazon's busy season, with millions of people around the world ordering holiday gifts.