Shopping on Amazon: at what cost?

Madison Peters, Staff Writer

Consumers love Amazon for various reasons, including fast shipping, vast product selection and reasonable prices. It may not be shocking that more than 197 million people shop on Amazon each month. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns in 2020, users have found it easy to find everything they need just a click away. 

While people who browse Amazon see the shopping benefits, there are also other vital actions Amazon is doing behind the scenes. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, Amazon scored a 100. This index measures how well a company treats its LGBTQ+ employees, with a 100 being a perfect score. Another essential program Amazon has in place is its AmazonSmile website. AmazonSmile is parallel to Amazon’s regular website, but 5% of your purchase gets donated to your charity of choice. Through this program, AmazonSmile has donated over $215 million to over one million charities. 

Business has been booming for the tech and retail giant, but some, like myself, are still apprehensive about shopping on their platform. Though I do not blame those who shop on Amazon for their everyday needs, here are some of the reasons why I tend to refrain from using their services. 

Amazon has been accused on many occasions of having unfair work conditions.

In the past, several Amazon warehouse workers have gone on strike to protest unfair work conditions and treatment. While Amazon is applauding itself for raising its minimum wage to $15, that is hardly the whole story. Amazon left out that employees’ bonuses and stock grants would be subsequently eliminated. 

Along with this, Amazon drivers have the short end of the stick. With the skyrocketing demand and expectations of fast deliveries, delivery drivers have to adapt inhumanely to keep their jobs. Amazon drivers are allowed a 30-minute break for lunch with two additional restroom stops. However, with vans being crammed with packages, drivers often have to skip these given breaks so as not to jeopardize their jobs. Unfortunately, this has left many drivers having to urinate in the vans to cut down on time. When questioned, Amazon claims that these practices did not reflect its standards for its delivery drivers. 

Amazon has made a lot of promises to better social needs, but where is the progress?

Previously, Amazon has made several promises to better their surrounding communities and employee treatment. Some of these promises include increasing job employment for military veterans, increasing diversity among its company and creating green initiatives. Yet the company has not published a report to track its progress on these promises. Furthermore, in 2019, Amazon vowed to be using 100% renewable energy by 2030 and go carbon neutral by 2040. Though this all sounds great, the only problem is that they have not announced their plan for executing these commitments. Based on their track record, who knows if this is another empty promise made by the company. 

Amazon has been known to be a foe to businesses, small and large. 

The rise of Amazon has come with the significant decline of brick-and-mortar businesses and the two phenomena are closely related. Since the decrease in competition on the larger scale, small businesses feel the need to now rely on Amazon’s platform to stay afloat. On top of the fees small companies have to pay to use their platform, Amazon has been known to steal product concepts. This means Amazon sees the most popular and high-selling items sold by small businesses, remakes the product under a private label and sells it cheaper. While Amazon has admitted and defended these actions by saying all private label brands do this, this does not make it any better.

If you feel conflicted about supporting Amazon, you are not alone. The answer to whether Amazon is a company worth supporting is not so simple. While Amazon has helped contribute to the greater good of society, some shady practices still remain. At the end of the day, it is understandable why many require Amazon’s convenient services. However, it is crucial to be reminded of what happens behind the scenes before the next time your doorbell rings.