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Why I Can't Give Up My Amazon Prime

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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 values.

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.

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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 obsession."

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 long overdue.

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 typed up.)

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 culture was.

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It reminds me of Dave Eggers novel, "The Circle" about a Facebook/Google corporation trying to take over the world, by getting everyone onto its social network for everything.

"Here though, there are no oppressors. No one's forcing you to do this. You willingly tie yourself to these leashes," one of the characters says.

Perhaps I am rationalizing. But I'm not cancelling my Prime membership for now. But I may have to go easy on the customer service reps—and the returns.

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