The Amazon Echo
Definitely-not-made-up news from the company that want to sell everything! A Black Friday special publication.
This modest work of satire is based on lots of actual facts about the e-commerce giant. Here are the sources for the information we’ve used.
Amazon accused of treating UK warehouse staff like robots
The Guardian. 31 May 2018.
Amazon has been accused of treating staff like robots as it emerged that ambulances had been called out 600 times to the online retailer’s UK warehouses in the past three years.
The GMB says four-fifths of the 200 union members working for the American firm who had responded to a survey said they suffered pain as a result of their workload.
Leaked: New Amazon worker chat app would ban words like “union,” “restrooms,” “pay raise,” and “plantation”
The Intercept. 4 April 2022.
Amazon will block and flag employee posts on a planned internal messaging app that contain keywords pertaining to labor unions, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Intercept. An automatic word monitor would also block a variety of terms that could represent potential critiques of Amazon’s working conditions, like “slave labor,” “prison,” and “plantation,” as well as “restrooms”
Tour Amazon’s dream home, where every appliance is also a spy
The Washington Post. 12 Oct 2022.
Amazon collects more data than almost any other company
Amazon’s main UK division pays no corporation tax for second year in a row
The Guardian. 1 June 2023.
Amazon’s main UK division has paid no corporation tax for the second year in a row after benefiting from tax credits on a chunk of its £1.6bn of investment in infrastructure, including robotic equipment at its warehouses.
Amazon profits nearly triple as company reports $143.1bn in revenue
The Guardian. 27 Oct 2023.
Revenue at the company rose 13% to $143.1bn in the three months to 30 September, clearing expectations on Wall Street. Profits surged to $9.9bn, from $2.9bn a year ago.
Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox. Lina M. Khan. The Yale Law Journal
No doubt, Amazon’s dominance stems in part from its first-mover advantage as a pioneer of large-scale online commerce. But in several key ways, Amazon has achieved its position through deeply cutting prices and investing heavily in growing its operations—both at the expense of profits. The fact that Amazon has been willing to forego profits for growth undercuts a central premise of contemporary predatory pricing doctrine, which assumes that predation is irrational precisely because firms prioritize profits over growth. In this way, Amazon’s strategy has enabled it to use predatory pricing tactics without triggering the scrutiny of predatory pricing laws.
US government accuses Amazon of using its power to inflate prices
The Guardian, September 2023
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 17 state attorneys general have sued Amazon, alleging the e-commerce behemoth uses its position in the marketplace to inflate prices on other platforms, overcharge sellers and stifle competition.
Amazon Is Taking Half of Each Sale From Its Merchants
Bloomberg. 13 February 2023.
Fees the company collects from third-party sellers have risen for six years in a row, squeezing their margins.
Amazon destroying millions of items of unsold stock in one of its UK warehouses every year
ITV News. 22 June 2021.
Online giant Amazon is destroying millions of items of unsold stock every year, products that are often new and unused, ITV News can reveal. Footage gathered by ITV News shows waste on an astonishing level. And this is from just one of 24 fulfilment centres they currently operate in the UK.
Amazon produced more carbon emissions last year than Switzerland
The Eco Experts. 25 October 2022.
Amazon has revealed it emitted 51.17 million metric tonnes of CO2e (equivalent metric tons of CO2) last year – more than the likes of Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Denmark.
This figure, measured over 2019 and released on June 23rd, was a 15% increase on the previous year.
Private Report Shows How Amazon Drastically Undercounts Its Carbon Footprint
Reveal News. 25 February 2022
Amazon counts only products labeled with its private brands – the Echo Dots, Kindles and AmazonBasics staples, for example. Those, the company has told Congress, total 1% of its online sales.
Delivery Drivers Sue Amazon For Being Forced To Pee In Bottles
Forbes. 24 May 2023
Three Amazon delivery drivers have filed a class action lawsuit against the e-commerce behemoth, claiming they faced “inhumane” working conditions that prohibited them from stopping to go to the bathroom while working.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index. As of 13 November 2023.
Jeff Bezos: $167B
Amazon treats me worse than the warehouse robots – that’s why I’m walking out
Darren Westwood, The Guardian. 28 February 2023.
“Timed to go to the toilet. Told off for leaning. Monitored for each package completed. As a worker at Amazon, I often feel that we aren’t being treated as people.”
Amazon Accused of Union-Busting at Striking UK Workplaces
Novara Media. 18 July 2023.
Workers allege Amazon is employing anti-union tactics, saying the company has penalised a worker leading the union drive, hired 1,300 extra non-unionised workers to defeat a push for formal union recognition in Coventry, plastered warehouses with anti-union messages, told workers that they risk missing out on pay rises if they unionise, and threatened to close a warehouse in response to union organising at the site.
UN decries Amazon, Walmart, DoorDash for ‘shameful’ wages and union-busting
The Guardian. 2 November 2023.
The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has called on the CEOs of Amazon, Walmart and DoorDash and the US government to address allegations that top US corporations pay such low wages that they trap workers in poverty, forcing them to rely on government-assistance programs to survive.
CMA to investigate UK cloud computing market amid Microsoft and Amazon concerns
The Guardian, October 2023
Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market
The Nation, February 2018
Already, Amazon’s website is the dominant platform for online retail sales, attracting half of all online US shopping traffic and hosting thousands of third-party sellers. Its Amazon Web Services division provides 34 percent of the world’s cloud-computing capacity, handling the data of a long list of entities, from Netflix to Nordstrom, Comcast to Condé Nast to the CIA. Now, in a challenge to UPS and FedEx, Amazon is building out a vast shipping and delivery operation with the aim of handling both its own packages and those of other companies.
By controlling these essential pieces of infrastructure, Amazon can privilege its own products and services as they move through these pipelines, siphoning off the most lucrative currents of consumer demand for itself. And it can set the terms by which other companies have access to these pipelines, while also levying, through the fees it charges, a tax on their trade.
Rigging the Rules: How Big Tech Uses Stealth “Trade” Agreements and How We Can Stop Them
Deborah James, IT for Change.
Facebook and Amazon are now the two biggest corporate lobbying spenders in the [US]… Big Tech has eclipsed yesterday’s big lobbying spenders, Big Oil, and Big Tobacco. In 2020, Amazon and Facebook spent nearly twice as much as Exxon and Philip Morris on lobbying.
The Big Tech takeover of agriculture is dangerous
GRAIN researchers, Al Jazeera, February 2021
Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are all busy developing digital agriculture platforms to collect large amounts of data, which can then be processed with their powerful algorithms to provide farmers with real-time data and analysis on the condition of their soils and water, the growth of their crops, the situation with pests and diseases and the looming weather and climatic changes they may face.]
In India… moves are being made by companies like Amazon and Facebook, through the backdoor of e-commerce, to take over food distribution and retail in partnership with India’s wealthiest tycoons and the backing of the central government’s reforms.