December 2008 & September – December 2009
Express Professional Services/Amazon.com
The 6 W's
Who: Express Professional Services is a temp agency who place folks at Amazon.com for the holiday crunch time.
What: Does anyone not know what Amazon.com is and does? If you don't, email me and I'll fill you in.
Where: Amazon.com has several distribution centers around the country, but Express is currently only recruiting workampers for the Coffeyville, KS location.
When: Start dates, as we understand it, are early September, early October or early November. However, we started in early December, so I think it all depends on how much help they need. Shifts are normally 10 hours four days a week, but as Christmas draws near they instate mandatory and voluntary overtime. Phil and I worked 1st shift, which was 5:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Why: Jobs at Amazon.com distribution centers can include Pickers, Cris-Plant, Shipping, Receiving and probably others we don't know about. Phil and I were Pickers and Gift Wrappers, and those are really all I can talk about with any understanding.
Would we do again
What we liked
- Express Professional Services in Independence, KS, were fantastic. Very organized and on the ball.
- free place to park our RV, with electric and water (no sewer connection, but honey wagon came around three times a week)
- constantly on the move at work, so we were never bored
- decent pay
- my Amazon.com ambassador was super nice to me
- Workampers included in incentives and morale-boosting activities
- Express Personnel had a workamper liaison at Amazon.com to address our concerns
What we didn't like
- not much to do in Coffeyville
- longer hours than we were told before we got there
- we were paid on the stupid Global Cash Card that we didn't like from the beet harvest
We had heard about Workampers working for Amazon.com all summer from the advertising blitz they did in Workamper News, but we didn't think we'd be doing it so soon because they were advertising for workers starting in September, and we had other things planned until late November. But when our other obligations were coming to and end, we decided to give Express a call and see if they still needed people for the endgame.
When we rolled into town, we met with the Express folks and were really impressed with how organized and friendly they were. And we were a bit leery about Express Personnel, because we worked through a branch for the beet harvest, and they were not nearly as on the ball. But the good news is the branches are independently owned and operated. At their office, we took some skill tests and our drug test, and that was pretty much it. They had our paperwork already, we didn't waste time filling out everything all over again, we had our pictures taken for our ids, and we were good to get to work the next day.
Phil and I worked the first shift, and that started at 6:30 a.m. and went to 5:30 p.m. with a half hour for lunch and two 15 minute brakes. On the first day, we had a brief orientation, were given our id badges to use to clock in and out, received some training and were told what we'd be doing. Phil and I were both Pickers, which meant we picked items off the shelves to fill orders. We had a hand-held scanner that we carried around. On it, we got the orders we had to fill. It told us the location of the warehouse we were to go to, and gave the location of the item and how many to get, etc. We would find the item and put it in a basket that we pushed around on a little cart. When our basket was full, we plopped it onto a conveyor belt that took it on to the next phase. That's what we did for ten hours. Phil and I really liked it because we were constantly on the move and we were trying to get back into some semblance of shape, but some of our co-workers did not like the constant physical activity. I must admit I was very sore in various body parts and thought I was getting carpel-tunnel syndrome from holding and clicking the scanner, but I still liked the job. But keep in mind, if you are thinking of this job, it's long days on your feet, lifting heavy items.
Even though you given a particular assignment, you can be moved around where there is a need. For example, a couple of times Phil and I were told to go help with Quality Assurance. That entailed doing bin inventory to make sure what was supposed to be in the bins were actually in the bins. I wasn't too fond of that, but they didn't make me do it very often or for very long, so it was OK.
Towards the end of our time at Amazon.com, close to Christmas, we were pulled away from Picking and sent to Gift Wrapping. We were shown how to fool-proofedly wrap gifts. I loved gift wrapping, even though I missed moving around like I was in Picking. However, Phil wasn't too happy to be gift wrapping, and was much happier moving and grooving.
And then Christmas came and we were done for the season.
We had a good enough time that we went back for a longer season the following year. Because we started early we were packers – filling bins with any and all imaginable products. This job was not that much fun, because we would end up standing around waiting for product to be sent our way to stow. As the season progressed we did some picking again and then spent the last month back with QA.
And then Christmas came and we were done for another season.
That year, several of our friends from Alaska came down to work with us. They didn't have as good of a time with the long hours and physical work, and they ended up not finishing the season. So if you decide to try it, make sure you know what you are getting into.