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Despite their low prices and good deals, I'd boycotted
Walmart for years due to their unfair labor practices. So what if I had to pay
a few bucks more for a beach chair at Target? It was worth it to show the
mega-corporation they had to give their employees health insurance. I was not
going to save money at the expense of some poor, working mom with two jobs. And
now they're facing an anti-discrimination lawsuit for denying LGBT workers healthcare benefits. Totally against my
But now Amazon has come under fire for its workplace ethic. And I'm torn.
This week The New York Times took on the behemoth corporation in a searing expose, "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace," which was subtitled, "The company is conducting an experiment how far it can push
white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions."
The reporters interviewed hundreds of current and former employees
and found that there is a brutal culture
in a Big Brother-like environment. But the worst
part was examples of sick employees who were made to leave, including a woman
who had just delivered a stillborn.
Although Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos denied the allegations in a public
statement (also reported
by The Times) the nearly 6,000 comments on the original article attest
to the fact that indeed, Amazon is brutal place to work, and its wonderful
customer service comes at a price.
One commenter called it the company's "unflinching customer
But look, I gotta be honest. I love Amazon's unflinching
devotion to me. I love how I can order anything from them at a lower price than
any brick and mortar store—but even more so, I love how I can return anything
for any reason and get a full refund. I love how I can chat online with a
customer service rep at any hour of the day and get them to cater to my
shopping needs, whether its waiving shipping fees, or returning something
I love the ease of it all so much that I even put my bridal
registry, then my baby registry, on Amazon. Because "my eyes are bigger than my
plate," as my mom used to say —did I really need a 12-pot set or five different
types of bath cloths?—I could register and send it back for something else,
gift-giver none the wiser. (Not to mention an instant thank you list already
I'm a conscientious shopper who wants fair workplace rights, on the one hand, but I also have come to rely so much on Amazon...
As a new mom, though, I have found Amazon indispensible. Baby's
got gas? Order stomach drops that will arrive the next day. Need a pumping bra?
Ditto. I couldn't imagine having to get the baby dressed, take the newborn out,
get on the bus and go to a store to buy these things. Between feeding,
burping, diapering and putting the baby to sleep, it seemed there was hardly
any time for me to shower, sleep and eat. How would I buy things? I couldn't
imagine how they did it in the old days.
Like five years ago, before Amazon Prime.
And so, I'm conflicted. I'm a conscientious shopper who wants
fair workplace rights, on the one hand, but I also have come to rely so much on
Amazon that our vestibule actually resembles one of their warehouse, piled high
with boxes on the way in and on the way out.
Do I need to boycott Amazon too?
I think there's a difference though, between Amazon and
Walmart. Unlike Walmart employees, who often have little opportunity for other
employment and are often struggling to make ends meet with more than one job, Amazon
workers willingly choose to work there—and they're well-compensated for their
efforts, with healthcare benefits and all. In fact, many of the commenters said
they chose not to work at Amazon because they knew how brutal the company