Three reasons to stop using Amazon
Like Rick Blaine’s with Ilsa Lund, Carrie Bradshaw’s with Mr Big, and David Cameron’s with straight answers, our relationship with Amazon is complicated. Not because we’re forcing it on a plane to Lisbon, scared of commitment, or secretly dismantling the welfare state, but because reports of Amazon’s abusive work culture are ubiquitous. Yet the site prospers.
Amazon is brilliant. It knows this. It appeals to the most powerful human traits: our decidedly modern desire to have everything on demand. One of its adverts – showcasing its next day delivery services – was said to have been “melting” hearts across social media.
However, if anything was at risk of melting, it was probably the warehouse staff. Almost reduced to puddles (and I’m not talking about puddles of tears either, even though that’s just as likely), according to the LA Times, they once had paramedics stationed outside Amazon’s hundred-degree Pittsburgh warehouse, where the afflicted had to “cool down and return to work.”
Channeling our inner Carrie, we ask you this: Are we so blinded and bound by convenience that we willingly disregard the damage Amazon inflicts on our fellow man?
So here are the three reasons we should stop using it… besides, we’ll always have eBay.
The warehouse is a workhouse
After a journalist breached Amazon’s inner sanctum as part of an exposé on worker conditions within the company, the media finally had their golden ticket. But there were no green-haired oompa loompas happily harvesting electrical goods. There were no chocolate rivers either, or any reason for Amazon employees to be happy at work at all.
Cancer and sickness in the family, and even pregnancy are enough to get you sacked. As our expectations of online delivery services skyrocket, the conditions for warehouse staff can be expected to deteriorate further.
Next and same-day delivery services have been a part of Amazon’s arsenal since 2005, and other companies have followed suit as swiftly as we now expect our deliveries of Casablanca blu-rays and Sex and the City box sets. This has been helped in part by the introduction of Systems, Applications and Production systems – more memorably known as SAP. These systems configure the logistics behind the world’s fastest deliveries, and it’s their rise in popularity that has spawned consumers’ desire to have everything immediately, with lazy sellers facing the wrath of potentially-damaging negative customer reviews.
Sadly, the rise of machines doesn’t take into account the toll on Amazon’s staff, and certainly hasn’t transformed the company’s expectations of their human warehouse workers. Left scouring miles of towering shelves, Amazon staff need to collect an item every 33 seconds.
Not all Amazonians hate their job; reviews from Amazon workers in the UK prove it’s not all blood, sweat and tears. But comments like “worst place I have ever worked” and “beware” sound like the kind of feedback you might get from cobra pit cleaners, not the employees of the benevolent place that bails you out when you forget that it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.
There’s less tax in stacks
Resilient to negative press, Amazon’s hubris has seen it position itself above the law, like Santa Claus gone vigilante. In 2014, it was revealed that Amazon had avoided paying huge amounts of UK corporate tax. So, in a Robin Hood-style PR bait-and-switch (if Robin stayed rich while convincing the poor they were being helped), Amazon responded by promoting their economic contributions as employers.
Amazon’s self-championing as a provider of work was met with indifference from the jaded press. After all, jobs don’t compensate for tax avoidance, particularly when, by most accounts, those jobs are terrible.
And what about the jobs Amazon has taken away? Remember Woolworths? Virgin Megastore? BHS? You could say these former high street staples failed to adapt to the digital landscape and overlooked valuable options for engaging with customers. Regardless, by metaphorically napalming its brick-and-mortar competition, Amazon have done more damage to local economies than it would ever admit.
Sellers are suffering
With over 120 million items deliverable the same week, customers may well never leave Amazon. But the people trying to make their living in its empire by selling their wares on the site sure wish they would.
For independent retailers, the threat of online competition has loomed for years. Now, Amazon is “The Everything Store”, and staying afloat is as hard for specialists and indies as it is for a concrete buoy.
Picture Amazon as a juggler, pre-throw: in one hand, they hold a Kindle. In the other, they’ve got authors by the balls. Last year, Amazon controlled 67% of the US ebook market; this means an author’s books are Amazon exclusives, with major distributors like Apple iBooks not getting a look-in.
The real catch-22 (not the $6.45 Kindle e-book) is that if you don’t put your products on Amazon, you exclude yourself from your largest possible audience. Amazon has cornered the market by making it impossible for anyone with principles to do anything but do a deal with the devil himself.
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing… and sign up for Prime
Amazon capitalises on an ugly truth: apathy and greed – like Donald Trump or gravity – always win. Our priorities need an overhaul if we want to wipe the smug smirk from beneath Amazon’s logo.
The editorial unit