Amazon Warehouse

Jason Del Rey

Commerce


To online shoppers, Amazon has become an indispensable part of their lives. To some former employees and business partners, a deal with Amazon is a threat to their livelihoods.

In a documentary called Amazon Rising, which premiered Sunday evening and will re-air on Monday night, CNBC exposed a darker side to Amazon’s business practices.

Among the negative facets of the business it explored were worker conditions at Amazon warehouses and claims that Amazon steals business from some of the very partners who sell on its marketplace.

While CNBC found warehouse employees who were thankful for the pay and benefits that come with a job at an Amazon fulfillment center, several spoke out about against the unrelenting pace of work and unreasonable expectations that take a physical and mental toll on employees.

“I felt like Amazon was a prison,” one former female worker said in the documentary. She and others interviewed reported tough working conditions that include being timed on just about any action imaginable, from bathroom breaks to packing boxes to picking products off of shelves.

CNBC also said it spoke to more than 100 independent businesses who sell their wares through Amazon’s online market. Two dozen of them, according to CNBC, claimed that Amazon attempted to ink separate deals with the merchant’s suppliers to purchase the same goods that the merchant sells and compete directly with them on Amazon.com.

“That is the playbook,” former Amazon exec John Rossman told CNBC, whose parent company NBCUniversal is a minority investor in Revere Digital, which publishes Re/code.

The documentary will re-air this evening at 7 pm ET. Here’s a clip from the documentary of two former Amazon execs dishing on what it’s like to work for CEO Jeff Bezos.



10 comments
Lisha
Lisha

Amazon is a monster. They are the Monsanto of ecommerce, the digital Walmart, and Google of online sales.

Hard Worker
Hard Worker

Paragraph 3 last sentence meant to say:  The supervisor I was with told me that he didn't want me kneeling down on the floor to put down the tape, insinuating that I was an older employee and shouldn't do that.

Hard Worker
Hard Worker

I worked at Amazon and was fired under a temp agency solely working for Amazon after two weeks.  The temp agency will get you hired at Amazon after a satisfactory period.  I wouldn't say Amazon is a prison.  I would say it is what you can expect out of factory work and other various jobs I have done (speed and not quality).  I would say Amazon is not quality minded, even though they say they have quality control. 


If you ever received a package that didn't arrive in good condition it could be because the employee was told that one piece of tape was enough (that down the production line it will mash together with the other packages). Even gift wrap was timed.  Scenario:   You forgot to put in the gift to and from invoice, and the supervisor doesn't say to chase the package to put it in (so if you send a gift, you better tell the recipient, so they know it's from you--no surprises to make sure).

The temp agency shows you a film before being hired that it takes a while to get adjusted to the fast pace.  I don't feel I was given a chance.  I worked very, very hard, and I cared about the product.  The supervisors they had didn't listen to your complaints about the employees not bringing you boxes or your scan gun not working or leave your clock ticking while on lunch which eats into your production time.  I even stayed later when the production line was slow and voluntary time off was given.  We dusted, picked up paper, swept, and laid down new tape on the floor.  The supervisor I was with told me that he didn't want me kneeling down on the f tape, insinuating that I was an older employee and shouldn't do that.


I will say a few things--their idea of changing machines and their attempt at body exercises to avoid bodily injury are good things.  One thing that bothered me about their employee protection was that you were scanned going out but not coming in.  So if anyone wanted to harm an employee they could do so.  Cell phones weren't allowed on the floor, so if you needed someone during an emergency situation while working, forget it.  I was told that Amazon didn't want their facilities filmed (like their inside facilities are photographed for newspapers or filmed for the news??).  The regular Amazon employees were allowed lockers to put their cell phones in. Temps didn't have lockers, but you could put your phone in your lunch bag or coat that may or not be there when you want it.  There's nothing like a refrigerated cell phone if you use the coolers!  My idea is that Amazon is more concerned with employees stealing product. 


The day I was fired I was told that employees should be fast before they are employed by them.  That was the only reason I was given.  I was thinking about the bologna film I saw and a fellow employee who told me right before I got fired that it took time to learn your job.  To my surprise a few months later I got an email that asked me to come back to work with the temp agency.  I have really needed a job, but I went back only for orientation day and decided I didn't need to be put through that depressing shame and hell again.  

Zammana
Zammana

 Funny how workers whine at being expected to actually work.  Forty years ago when I painted guitars for CBS Musical Instruments (Fender) the engineers would stand behind you with a stopwatch timing every move you made.  Then they'd pull a guitar or two out of the oven and chip off a piece of paint and measure it with a micrometer to see if you were putting too much product on it.  Spraying polyester with guns modified to inject the sulphuric acid activator into the spray, no air conditioning, and headgear, respirator, gloves, and hands too dirty you couldn't wipe the sweat out your eyes but just had to blink it away.  Lotta jobs like that.  It wasn't Disneyland - that's why they paid you come in instead of the other way around. 

Bardo
Bardo

"Two dozen of them, according to CNBC, claimed that Amazon attempted to ink separate deals with the merchant’s suppliers to purchase the same goods that the merchant sells and compete directly with them on Amazon.com."

So they are re-sellers, middlemen...  and they're shocked that Amazon wants to cut them out of the loop so they can lower prices?  Boo freaking hoo.

Don't want Amazon competing against you?  Become the manufacturer, not a middleman.

hello
hello

@Bardo  True that! LOL. I love it when middle-men whine.

AncientOne
AncientOne

@hello @Bardo  God I know! I mean, when are people going to realize that monopolies foster *good* business practices!  And like, that old saying.. um.. Absolute power etc.. etc..  that's just stuff OLD people say! It's words that don't really mean anything! LOL

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 309,296 other followers