Image: Captain Lou photo via Twitter.
A man in California is in a standoff with Amazon because it’s abandoned one of its delivery vans in his driveway and has failed to remove it for four days.The man, who asked to be identified by his Twitter alias Captain Lou because he was worried his employer wouldn’t want him to beef with Amazon publicly, said his ordeal started when he ordered some Quilted Northern toilet paper from Amazon. On Friday night, a Sprinter van pulled up to his house and dropped off a package.
Fifteen minutes later, Lou noticed the van was still there and the driver was struggling to get it out of his driveway. “And I asked the guy, the driver, if he was OK,” Lou told Motherboard over the phone. The driver said he was fine and that the check engine light had come on and it had been giving him trouble the entire day and limiting his speed. About an hour later, Lou left to pick up his daughter from a football game and noticed the van was still in his driveway. The driver was gone, and so were all the other packages. It was unlocked with the keys in it. “The driver had repositioned the truck so I could get out of the driveway, which is great,” Lou said. “But after the initial contact, the driver didn’t say anything, didn’t leave a note at all.”Saturday morning Lou’s daughter came into his room and told him that the truck had turned around in the middle of the night. “So sure enough, about 8 o’clock in the morning, somebody came and started the truck and drove it out into the street,” Lou said. “Apparently it was not capable of going anywhere, so they just put it right back into my driveway—but 180 degrees from where it was the night before.”Whoever turned the truck around wasn’t as considerate as the first driver and Lou couldn’t quite squeeze his own car down the driveway after the repositioning. “So I went and opened the door to the truck, and sure enough the keys are in the truck and I just moved it over about five feet,” he said.
Lou pointed out that it’s not an Amazon-branded truck, just a white Sprinter van typically used by third-party contractors. “But it’s delivering Amazon goods,” Lou said. “And it’s been in my driveway since Friday night fully unlocked with the keys in the console.”
The only clue to the van’s problems can be found on a repair order sitting on the passenger seat of the van. According to Lou, who works in the automotive industry, the van has only 400 miles on the odometer and was repaired about two weeks ago at a dealership. When he moved the van, he noticed the check engine light was on. According to the paperwork, Lou said, it looks like the van has an airflow problem that’s putting it into a restricted driving mode that reduces its horsepower. “It’s a lemon,” Lou said.Lou has tried to contact Amazon, but the company hasn’t been helpful. He started by tagging Amazon on Twitter and quickly got a direct message from someone at the company with a customer service link that went to a form where he could complain about packages and deliveries. The rep reached back out to ask if that resolved the issue. “I’m not exactly sure there’s a button that says ‘stranded truck in my driveway,’” Lou said. Another rep reached out to ask if there was any property damage. “There’s no property damage. It’s not a big deal. This truck was sort of left here.”Another rep sent him a link to talk to someone immediately. “I clicked the link and was connected with someone in Cardholder Services,” Lou said. “So I spent 10 minutes with a very polite, but clearly befuddled offshore agent who had no idea how to route my call to the ‘Disabled Van Department.’ But I'm pretty sure I have an Amazon credit card now.”Eventually Amazon told Lou to call the authorities and have it towed. “That’s a terrible solution,” Lou said. “I’m not going to have the vehicle towed. Amazon should be able to figure this out. So now it’s an act of defiance. I did not follow Amazon’s instructions to just call the cops and have it towed.”“I also just kind of want to see what happens,” Lou said. “How long is it gonna take them to figure out that they have a delivery truck that’s just sitting somewhere?”Amazon did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.