I love Amazon. I've been using them for more than a decade. I do all of my shopping basically on Amazon. Their customer service is legendary, they always ship on time and they always come through for just about anything you need.
However, over the last year or two, stories have been seeping out of what it is like to work in one of their warehouses. Today, All Things Digital published a story with some pictures inside one of Amazon's 4 warehouses in Phoenix, Arizona. While the pictures really don't offer much we don't already know, a case of reporters taking phone snaps instead of having a professional photojournalist, which is another story, the comments section offered a better glimpse inside what it is like to work there.
Occasionally, comments to a story offer a better idea about what is really going on than the actual story. I think this is the type of nugget we look for in comments. Value added if you like. I found this comment very interesting and I thought I'd share with all of you guys that might find it interesting as well. I can't say I'll shop there again without feeling a bit sorry for the people that are fulfilling my order, and a bit guilty as well.
Forget the photo's - ask the employees about their day.
Amazon hires through a temp agency called INTEGRITY where it is more of a, if"you're warm and can pass a drug test" you can work ten hour days and fifteen miles+ a day at walking. Yes, I said fifteen miles+ a day, pushing a cart and using a hand scanner, - that you are timed as a job-keeping requirement - to locate items to put onto a six mile long conveyor belt. In a one million square foot building, you get 2- 15 minute breaks and one 30-minute lunch, but since you have to walk to the break room and through security, what you really have is 27 minutes off your feet in a ten hour shift. This does not include bathroom breaks either as Amazon will come looking for you if your scanner doesn't register an item after 7 minutes and the bathrooms are close to the break room... If you're sent to the second or third floor - forget your breaks, just sit down, you'll never make it to the break room and back in the allowed time. Worse scenario is your scanner send you to one end of the floor for an item, then the next item up is on the exact opposite end of the floor - you can't meet you time. You can literally ping-pong back and fourth which drains energy with every step.
Amazon also has a fine dust problem. A lot of workers complain of dust from the products and with the massive blowers they use, if you have any lung or allergy issues... SOL.
So I ask, how many people can walk that amount and be timed to keep their job? Answer: Not many as the average employee lasts one and a half weeks at best and the hiring goes on and on. Amazon is actually one of America's best keep sweatshop secrets. At the Phoenix locations, it is not uncommon for the warehouses to be in the 90's in the summer. Have people passed out and/or vomited on the second and third floors? Yes. They are sent home an lose a point on their attendance - you only get six before you're fired.
Does Amazon have good prices? Yes. Good online help? Yes. Do the locals who fill the orders work in shameful conditions? Yes. Would it be easier to maintain help if the shifts were only eight hours and day? Yes. Should they allow new hire to have a gradual schedule to building up to walking the Bataan Death March? Yes. Does Amazon do this simple and obvious step? NO - Because profit is all it cares about.