Same-day delivery to your door and one-stop shopping for books and almost anything you need is the way most people think of Amazon, but now it seems that the international company may have another side, and it’s a bit darker. But what is Amazon like for an employee? Is it really the stressful place, with long hours, rough conditions, and endless programs for employee shaming? Information is coming out that might change the way you think the next time you go online to place an order.
According to the Inquisitr, Amazon is not planning to stop taking over the world and is now throwing its hat into the brick-and-mortar bookstore world that they helped erase. It started in the Amazon hometown of Seattle and is coming to a town near you. And Barnes & Noble, the last remaining national book superstore, is shaking in its corporate boots.
Vanity Fair has dropped a serious bomb about some of Amazon’s business practices, including scoreboards used for employee shaming. Amazon uses flat-screen televisions in their warehouses to shame workers for alleged theft. The employees are not identified by name but rather represented in silhouette with the word “terminated” or “arrested” over an account of what they supposedly stole from Amazon and how the company caught them. In interviews with Amazon employees, it is a very Big Brother culture of shame, threats, and the promise of punishment.
It is hardly the great unknown that if you steal from your employer, whether it be Amazon or a gas station, you could lose your job and perhaps your freedom. However, the questions being raised about Amazon are not about crime and punishment but about the culture of having your freedom and livelihood over your head based on an accusation and not due process.
Employees said that in parts of Amazon that don’t have flat-screen televisions, this information is written on walls and posted on bulletin boards. Amazon will not confirm or deny this information. However, shame is not the only condition that is creating questions about Amazon business practices. In 2010, Amazon warehouse employees needed to seek medical attention after being locked out of the building in sub-zero temperatures. Fire alarms and a drill were activated during a supposed employee theft event. Reportedly, each Amazon employee needed to be checked for 90 seconds before they would be allowed back into the building. The employees were not allowed to wait in their cars, as it would allegedly provide them with a place to hide stolen merchandise.
Bloomberg is reporting on a culture of employee shame at Amazon and the threat of what can happen if you go astray. The average Amazon employee seems to be more concerned about their low wages and an unreasonable world, according to Bloomberg. Although most employees like Maurice Jones, who left Amazon last month, say that the only people who have to worry about the scoreboard of shame are those doing wrong, it is still a distraction for those Amazon employees just trying to get their jobs done. Jones likens it to being witness to a car crash.
“It could be one lane that’s blocked, but all the traffic slows down because everyone wants to look at it,” he said. “Like, ‘Who was stupid this time?'”
Other employees liken it to prison culture.
“That’s a weird way to go about scaring people,” said James McCracken, who, like Jones, used to work at Amazon’s warehouse in San Bernardino, California. “I think that’s offensive.”
Tales of employer hostility are starting to come out of the Amazon culture, and will likely increase before they get better.
Do you think the Amazon theft scoreboard is unreasonable?
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]