What was life like before Amazon? This online marketplace has become so big, used by so many people, and is such a major part of our everyday lives, it’s hard to remember how we navigated the world of commerce before it was around. While the emergence of Amazon opened up a whole new world of shopping to us, there are also some troubling aspects of life with the retail giant. Naturally, Amazon would prefer that you didn’t know about those things, knowing it might change your mind about doing business with them.
With that in mind, here are 7 things about Amazon that they would prefer that you did not know:
7. You don’t own your Kindle and its contents
To be completely accurate, you license the content rather than own it. This means Amazon can remove it if you violate that license agreement you scrolled through and accepted without reading it. Also, the licensing rights that publishers and Amazon negotiate have expiration dates. When that expiration date expires, the content will vanish from your Kindle. Usually, no explanation is given unless you go through the extra steps to call and ask.
6. The site is designed to make you over-spend
Amazon is like magic. You pay the $119 for a year of Prime, and every time you shop, you will get what you bought within 2 days. How easy is that? One writer reported that she spent $1,274 in 18 months after signing up for Prime. Also, they strongly encourage retailers that use its name to artificially increase prices in order to recoup the income lost on “free shipping.” It can be even more troublesome with the e-Books on the Kindle. One survey reported Amazon customers who don’t own a Kindle spend an average of $87 a month, those with a Kindle spend $136, and Kindle Fire owners spend over $150.
5. Working conditions are often terrible
Everyone loves to hate on Wal-Mart. The pay is terrible, they destroy the livelihood of everyone in their supply chain, and Sam Walton’s kids horde all the money for themselves. However much of that is true, Amazon is no company of angels in comparison. A British journalist worked undercover in 2016 in an Amazon warehouse. He found that there was a point system where 6 points were grounds for firing. Calling in sick, even if you brought a doctor’s note, would get you a point towards dismissal. A Pennsylvania warehouse saw 100-degree temperatures and fainting workers until a local newspaper investigation prompted Amazon to install air conditioning.
4. The pricing isn’t very honest
What you see on Amazon as a list price and corresponding discount are not necessarily legitimate. The list price is supplied by a vendor that rarely or never actually charges that amount. Sometimes there are honest mistakes, such as a Belkin 10-socket Surgemaster that had a list price of $528.99, and obvious typographical error. But not all of those typos will be that obvious and easy to spot.
3. The environment doesn’t matter
With the advent of Prime Now and the aforementioned “free shipping” on Amazon Prime memberships, customers are less inclined to save up needs for one order, but instead will order whatever comes to mind right away. It’s so easy to say, “Alexa, order cat food” today, go online and buy paper towels and toilet paper tomorrow, and then while running errands tomorrow afternoon, remember your portable DVD player is broken, so you pull out your phone and buy one. You will get 3 separate shipments, each with an excessive amount of packaging. When millions of people are ordering individual items one or two at a time, this will create extra airplane traffic, not an environmentally-friendly thing. Amazon is all about convenience, and they’re not about to sacrifice that convenience in favor of more methodical or slower methods. That might be more environmentally-friendly.
2. They are constantly spying on you
1. Nothing is more important than money
No, this is not a political statement about how wrong it is to try to make as much money as you can. Everyone wants to make money. However, when the pursuit of one more sale becomes so important that you are willing to ignore religious sensitivities, get over-zealous flagging LGBT books as “adult”, and sell books that deny the Holocaust, the pursuit is very tainted. The world is a big place, with all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs and practices. A good company will want everyone to do business with them, and thus will ensure their ways aren’t trampled on.
As you would expect, Amazon disagrees with all of these allegations. To their credit, Amazon is one of those rare companies that can truly say, “we have changed the world”. If you could go back in time 100 years and tell the people what Amazon is and what you can do with it. There would probably be a lot of jaws dragging the ground. Completely amazing and overwhelming the early 20th century residents with the staggering innovation.
Some of the change is very good, some of it is not. And like all companies, Amazon would rather you skip past the bad parts, or not know they exist at all.
As you carry on your day-to-day activities, keep these 7 shocking things Amazon would rather you didn’t know in mind. You just might pause long enough to find a way to accomplish your tasks without encouraging them to keep happening.