Amazon doesn’t need you, and you don’t need Amazon.
A History of the Behemoth
Amazon was incorporated in 1994 and quickly revolutionized how we buy books. The company soon became an e-commerce giant, acquiring online booksellers and opening sales to almost all types of consumer goods. Without a doubt, it is now the dominant force in the retail industry, with buyers and sellers across the globe.
Even as far back as the early ’00s, the retailer struck fear in the hearts of Mom & Pop stores and international chains alike; all of whom were forced to change their business models or go out of business entirely.
As the saying goes (coined by Robert Quinn), if you don’t change, you die a slow death in the business world. Amazon took root in the college and university circuit by bypassing the chokehold publishers had on forcing students to buy expensive textbooks that they could only sell back to the publishers for a minimal amount. They provided books and eventually other services for less money and hassle than traditional shops offered. Home delivery of internet orders, while ubiquitous today, was at that time a service that Amazon pioneered hard. While many distrusted ordering goods over the internet (a distrust not misplaced after all, as it turns out), many others embraced it. The pandemic all but sealed Amazon’s seat at the top while other businesses crumbled.
The Uglier Side of Convenience
You probably saw it all over the news, all over your social media, while streaming movies, in your email, on flyers, and on highway billboards: Last week was Prime Day. It’s not a holiday! While the convenience and vast selection offered by Amazon might seem enticing, it is crucial to examine the negative implications associated with the company. Moreover, events like Prime Day, marketed as a shopping extravaganza, have their own set of drawbacks. Amazon and Prime Day have detrimental effects on society, the economy, and the environment.
Your dollars are your vote, so learn the facts and decide for yourself if Amazon is really worth the impact the company is having on the world.
1. Labor Practices and Worker Exploitation
One of the most significant criticisms against Amazon revolves around its labor practices. In late May, three more delivery drivers sued Amazon for being forced to pee in bottles, after the practice came to light in 2021 and Amazon was forced to acknowledge it. While shocking, those are just the tip of the exploitation iceberg. Numerous reports have exposed harsh working conditions, long hours, and unrealistic productivity expectations for employees. The company has faced allegations of union-busting and stifling workers’ rights to organize. Moreover, instances of inadequate pay and insufficient safety measures have been widely reported. Look up “Amazon working conditions” and you’ll see a constant stream of lawsuits, fines, investigations, citations, pickets, and exposés.
But the kicker is, Amazon knows what it is doing and hasn’t made any meaningful changes at all. Think: The company publicly acknowledged in 2021 that workers pee in bottles, yet it is still happening! People keep buying from Amazon, and as other businesses erode people become desperate for those jobs despite the conditions. (All while Jeff Bezos demands a country dismantle a bridge for his $500 million yacht. But more on that later.)
2. Monopolistic Market Dominance and Small Business Impact
Amazon’s unrivaled dominance in the e-commerce market poses a threat to small businesses. Its sheer scale and competitive pricing make it difficult for local retailers to compete. This leads to the closure of small businesses, which are vital for local economies and communities. The power wielded by Amazon undermines healthy competition and creates an environment that favors monopolistic tendencies.
But what about the numerous small businesses getting their start by selling on the platform? Aren’t they getting a benefit? Unfortunately, Amazon exercises its monopoly power over sellers, partners, and vendors, too. Sellers specifically are pushed away from becoming successful on any other e-commerce website, including their own websites, and are subject to random rules, fines, fees, and arbitrary suspensions.
3. Tax Avoidance and Economic Consequences
Amazon has faced extensive criticism for its complex and aggressive tax avoidance strategies. By exploiting loopholes and using offshore tax havens, the company manages to minimize its tax burden significantly. This not only reduces revenue for governments but also creates an uneven playing field for smaller businesses that are unable to engage in such practices. Ultimately, this affects public services and hampers economic growth.
Full circle this to Point #1.
4. Encouraging Impulse Buying and Over-Consumption
The word “encouraging” sounds gentle and positive, when in reality Amazon’s tactics are anything but. It’s a frenzy of impulse buying, and buying things you don’t need completely negates any “savings” you think you’re getting.
Not to mention, “original” prices are often inflated ahead of Prime Day by unscrupulous sellers looking to cash in on the frenzy. If you wouldn’t buy the product on a regular day, don’t buy just because it’s Prime Day.
In conclusion, think twice next time before hopping onto the Amazon Prime Day bandwagon. It’s true that there are some small businesses legitimately growing a customer base using the platform, as well as being able to find things you might not have otherwise. But if you can, find those products directly on the business’ website, or even better (if you can!) in a local shop.
Most importantly, if you don’t need something and weren’t going to buy an item anyway, definitely don’t buy during the over-hyped Prime Day frenzy.