NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Dozens of subcontracted Amazon drivers say they are owed tens of thousands of dollars for deliveries for which they were never paid. Former employees say it’s happening all over the country, so they called CBS11 for Consumer Justice.
Amazon contracts through a Frisco company called J.W. Logistics, which hired Fort Worth-based Hot Route Delivery Specialists. Now the owner of Hot Route is accused of giving those drivers bad checks.
Wes Brown worked for Hot Route for almost two years without issues, until this past January. That’s when his $2,700 paycheck was returned for insufficient funds. “I’d already paid my truck payment, insurance and everything else that night and all of that was taken right back.”
Brothers Ghassan and Mohammad Braish are in the same situation. They say they are owed $8,000 and $10,000, respectively. Mohammad says he had to sell his wife’s van for half of its worth, just to pay his mortgage. “It feels terrible — I don’t have money to live!”
David Andersen can relate. He says he lost his apartment while trying to cash paychecks from Hot Route. “At first it came up as insufficient funds,” said Anderson. “But now it comes back at the account is closed.”
Drivers Consumer Justice spoke with said instead of money, they got excuses from Hot Route’s owner, Chris Cassels. “Every day I go there, he says ‘just wait. Give me one more day,'” said Mohammad Braish. Ghassan said Cassels told him, “‘I’m still waiting for money to transfer to my account then I’ll wire it to you guys.’ Today, tomorrow, same words, same thing, nothing changes.”
Many of the men kept returning to Hot Route’s office at Texas Motor Speedway, demanding answers. “He actually contacted security and had us escorted off the property,” said Andersen, adding that Cassels was “just hiding in the office.”
Cassels wouldn’t come to the door for Consumer Justice, either. Security officers came to escort our Consumer Justice crew off the property. Downstairs, the crew passed by his pickup and his wife’s new convertible BMW. The temporary tag shows it was bought in January, just days before the paychecks began bouncing. Cassels’ Facebook page is filled with pictures of him and his wife attending Cowboys games all over the country.
“The guy goes and does everything he wants to,” said Brown. “He’s eating well. He’s eating very well.”
Cassels, who would only communicate through email, told Consumer Justice, “Due to the loss of a significant client our company is experiencing cash flow challenges… our team is working with contractors/vendors to make arrangements to pay each in full.”
Drivers say it’s the other way around. “All of this happened because he didn’t pay us,” said Brown, “so that’s when we stopped working and that’s when he lost the accounts.” Mohammad Braish added, “He’s a liar. That’s all I can say.”
Tom Riley, who was in charge of operations at Hot Route, says Cassels should have had no problem paying drivers.
Riley says the company has contracts with drivers in at least ten cities nationwide. “I heard from 40 to 45 drivers all over the U.S.,” he said. “All owed money, all begging for their money; some of them threatening my life because I was the one who answered the phone.”
Riley quit the company in early March.
Meanwhile, Hot Route continues to advertise job openings for drivers in Dallas, Flower Mound and Plano. “How can you hire new people, new drivers but you owe money to the other people?” wondered driver Oz Rojas.
As for the drivers, they just want to be paid for the work they’ve done. “We’re all in limbo,” said Brown, “just waiting to see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Hot Route’s full statement:
“Due to the loss of a significant client our company is experiencing cash flow challenges. In our industry the vendors/contractors are the back bone to our organization. We regret that the situation has had impact on even one of them. At this time our team is working with contractors/vendors to make arrangements to pay each in full. To facilitate quick handling of payment issues we are asking that our vendors/contractors exhibit a bit more patience and submit any and all requests to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. With the assistance of new investors and a change in our finance company we are confident that vendors/contractors will get paid in full and that this will be behind us all sooner rather than later.”
However, non of the drivers Consumer Justice spoke said they’ve been paid by Cassels.
J.W. Logistics’ statement:
“We no longer have a relationship with this carrier and have helped drivers transition to other companies. We have also met with drivers one-on-one to help them resolve their gap in payment. These drivers provide excellent service and we will continue to work with them throughout this transition.”
“Our third-party service provider has assured us that drivers for their subcontractor, hot route, will be fully paid for their work and they will no longer utilize the subcontractor.”