Pain at Work for e-commerce Delivery boy

In last few months, I have started to order goods from online commerce portals and food start-ups. I have not been happy getting disturbed with the phone call from delivery boys to deliver my food and goods ordered in portal.

I was little concerned as there was phone call to ask for landmark to my address to deliver after me providing landmark as part of my shipping address in order and my location is a clear known landmarks located on main road.  I got little annoyed when the delivery boy called me to request me to come to gate of my building to pick up delivery.  My expectation was delivery at my door entrance,my shipping address and I cannot be pulled out of meeting for a long time.

As I commute by cycle, I started to get chances to see delivery boys in action and started interacting with some of them. They came quite positive and my compassion towards them started increasing.  I decided to ask name and start conversation with “How are you” and reduced my tone when something has gone wrong too. With this change, when I find them on road struggle to balance bag, I offer them help.

Realized my equating delivery boys with equivalent of dabbawallahs of Mumbai or premium courier and that was wrong assumption on my part and my emotions were due to over expectation influenced by brand of ordering portal. In this context, reading article  Labour pains for e-commerce players lead me to write this blog.

IndiaTvac6c54_delivery-boy

You find more men in this profession(Have you seen women in delivery?) They are in age groups of 18 years to 24 years and spend close to 8 or 9 hours in the field.  They visit around 30 customer per day on average. Some get attracted by salary of around  Rs10,000 per month with possible incentives of Rs 1000 provided based on performance and the company employing them.

Most of them work with 2-wheeler, they are not employees of  e-commerce portal(say Flipkart.com). They are employees of logistics and delivery subsidiary/ sister company of these online portals or they are employees of delivery partner for online portals. No delivery boy is directly works for online portal where I ordered.  This means that delivery boy does not need to bother much to customer. He is aware that he is measured by how effective he can deliver many items in his working hours of day.

deli

Are delivery boys carrying heavy loads? Do delivery boys have medical and accident insurance ? I see the delivery boys carry a heavy load in their vehicles.   Some of them are lean in body nature and seem to carry a heavy bad. What happens to health of neck of the delivery boy on carrying close to 40 kgs on their backs every single day, between 9-6 pm.

They drive and talk on the phone to identify location and poor balancing of the delivery bags leads to accidents. After reaching building, delivery boy needs to carry the full delivery bag containing all items to reception, deliver single item and carry  back full delivery bag. Some buildings demands a long walk carrying a huge bag in the back.

The delivery boys cannot leave the bags on their bikes given that the goods may be stolen. So they end up carrying all the goods in their bag to every single house. Will this lead to back pains or health issues? Please take in to consideration combined impact of heavy bag, driving vehicle, bad roads and pressure to deliver more.

Also remind yourself of the heat in Chennai, Hyderabad or Bangalore in summer months. Are the delivery boy aware of the possibility to become dehydrated?  where to get water? Would customers provide them with water?

On casual chat, I became aware made aware of no easy access to toilet/restroom during their work hours. They are worried to leave the delivery bag outside and enter public toilets which have a narrow pathway. Hence they control their need of toilets. Would you help them with access to restrooms if they ask for? A simple Google leads me to article We have no loos, basic facilities’

Are delivery boys safe physically? if some one beats them and take away Kindle they are delivering to customer, who is responsible for loss? I am sure that e-commerce company will undertake the loss. What about loss of money collected as Cash on Delivery(COD)? Are delivery boys educated to handle these risks?

While I considered this as possibility, a simple search brought article Why Amazon and Flipkart delivery boys avoid Noida and Uttar Pradesh e-customers? . Already faced, What happens if the delivery boy gets hurt when he is robbed? who would take care of his medical bills?

Where Vehicle and Fuel to deliver e-commerce order comes from?  The delivery boy needs to possess his own vehicle and is provided with fuel allowance based on distance travelledI am sure that EMI Loan schemes  are made available to help him buy vehicle. Remember that loan reduces the possibility to quit delivery job easily.

Fuel subsidy from government applies to truckers transporting goods from whole sale markets to local stores. When fuel price increases, the cost of fuel got added to price of goods paid by the consumer. Consumer subsidizes the fuel subsidy for trucks. Today the fuel subsidy for vehicle of e-commerce is subsidized by consumer. Realize that while you are happy to get discounts on the price from e-commerce portal and free delivery, there is  hidden cost paid by you as part of fuel subsidy for delivery.

What are efforts of online market places? I am not hearing much from the real delivery boys I have met. They accept that it is job and there is no support. Some companies provide delivery boys with bags that makes carrying easier and does not stress them out

I see delivery boy in a tempo traveller transfers goods to delivery boy on his bike on the road. There is no proper location for them to perform this transfer. They still prefer this as it helps them to travel less distances. This also enables them to deliver more in a specific location and need not travel to warehouse multiple times.

I hear that Rajasthan government has recently moved an amendment to bring e-commerce companies under Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishments Act 1958.

In our apartment elevator, I observed a Big Basket  delivery person who used trolley to carry goods for delivery. I was happy that delivery boy did not carry weight and as they carry grocery in boxes, they get back the boxes reducing waste. Felt as improvement.

deliveryboy_trolley

I am sure that some of these issues are getting resolved or will be solved over next year.

Is right job opportunity for youth? Some time youth get in to these jobs and earn quick money. This would solved all their short term needs. Year after year, new delivery boys would arrive. With arrival of new delivery boys, salaries would not increase.

What would happens to delivery boys on the start of drone based delivery? First, they needs to re-skilled on their jobs. Where does money for reskill program come from?. When drones are introduced, delivery boy needs to perform parallel  deliver for 8 hours and also be energetic to attend a reskill program.

While we know that the founders of Flipkart/ Snapdeal  are in list of India billionaires, where would delivery boys find themselves after 5 or 10 years? With the e-commerce portals start to collaborate with retail stores to enable better delivery, the delivery boys would work for local employer.  May be they might start to organize themself as association/union to ensure that their rights are protected and are not exploited.