Amazon And Us

amazon logoMy dad and I were on the phone yesterday. He told me he just ordered corn flakes via Amazon.

A click in the evening brought the flakes 36 hours later.

“How do they do it,” he asked?

My mom and dad, now living comfortably near my sister and her family in frigid Wisconsin, aren’t very mobile. Grocery shopping is tough.

We’re big Amazon users here too. I’m looking around my office at loads of items delivered to me. I’ve ordered on-line when I could have just gone to Home Depot, under five minutes away.

Is this a good thing? Over the short term it’s great. I get what I want with less hassle and for what’s usually the best price.

Amazon figured out how to get things to me fast using a variety of delivery services. It’s a data driven company. There’s a method to their madness, but no two packages come via the same route.

Over the long run I’m much less convinced all of this is a good thing! Staples announced they’re closing 300 stores in the US. Radio Shack is lopping off over a thousand. Retail’s in trouble. Malls are in trouble. Even Walmart is worried. Amazon is trying to hide in the corner, softly whistling.

At the same time, Amazon’s become adept at extracting favorable tax rates and incentives. A Google search for “tax incentive amazon” shows a half dozen states considering or already offering large sums of money to Amazon.

Everything I buy online I don’t buy in a store. Amazon fills the gap with fewer employees earning less money. I’m not paying today. I’m paying tomorrow. The jobless require assistance. It’s not the workers fault.

George Jetson at WorkIf the Jetsons had properly predicted the future, where George comes to work and immediately puts his feet up on his desk, we’d be fine. I grew up with that fantasy. But labor saving hasn’t meant making life easier for labor. The effect has been quite the opposite.

The convenience offered by buying online is huge. It’s only when you see the whole picture, it becomes suspect.

These are complex choices. I’m not rushing to a decision. It’s confusing.

2 thoughts on “Amazon And Us”

  1. Amazon’s warehouse treats its workers like crap but they pay well and because of that there’s always someone willing to put up with it even for a while until they find something else. Walmart is rotting from the inside because they simply resuse to treat their people well enough or hire enough to properly staff a store. The shelves are a pile of jumbled disorganized effluvia, if they’re stocked at all. I gave up on shopping there because half the time I went what I needed was out of stock and of course wouldn’t be back IN stock until ‘the truck’ came back sometimes around 9 pm. I’ve seen them CLOSE cash registers that had long lines because they were sending cashiers home to keep them ‘under hours’. And also to help unload those trucks that had just arrived. Customers are putting up with it….for now….because Walmart STILL has the lowest prices around.
    Target screwed themselves with loose security systems leading to that massive data breach at christmas.
    People will always make the effort to go to a ‘bricks and mortar’ store to shop if there’s something worth going to get. And as the shipping debacle over the holidays proved, shopping on-line is no guarantee of good service either.

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