Anyway, all those brutal warehouse jobs will eventually be taken over by robots,
and those inhumane problems will be replaced by new problems of
inhumanity, but this current episode is something else, less obviously
immoral but in its own way more sinister.
Jack Shafer, who is not at all sentimental about the operations of capitalism, wrote yesterday that he is quitting Amazon till the Hachette situation is cleared up:
would have been okay with me if it had hard-balled the publisher by
refusing to discount its books or even insisted on selling them at a
premium. In that case, I could do what I usually do — make individual
decisions about where to buy stuff based on price and availability.
by essentially banishing many Hachette titles from its stock, Amazon,
which ordinarily puts its customers first, has put them last, telling
them they can't buy certain titles from it for any price.
This is the key: What Amazon is demonstrating is that its ruthlessness now goes in all directions.
As every big story about Amazon points out, the company has dedicated
itself to expansion with little regard for near-term profits. The aim is
to dominate the market, then to start making money.
first it put the squeeze on competing booksellers. Then it got big
enough to put the squeeze on publishers and its workforce. Now it's
approaching the size where it can put the squeeze on customers.
got a taste of this a few months ago, when I suddenly discovered that I
couldn't buy the cases of baby supplies I'd been getting from Amazon.
These were major-manufacturer products: Pampers in size 7; the thickest
kind of Huggies wipes. The Everything Store couldn't find them in stock.
though, Diapers.com—part of the Amazon family of retail sites—could.
But Diapers.com (despite being part of the Amazon family of retail
sites) doesn't give free shipping to Amazon Prime customers. But-but if you throw in something extra, some baby shampoo or diaper cream, you can get over the $50 limit for free shipping.
you make a Diapers.com login—although when you reach checkout you can
use your Amazon account to pay. How else are you going to get a case of
diapers if you live in Manhattan? Especially size 7. (The over-under on
Duane Reade/CVS visits to find even a pack of size 6 is two.)
creates the problem, and Amazon offers the solution to the problem.
With the power to sell everything comes the power to not sell certain
things, or to only sell them on certain terms.
already there is no way out of the box. But if we don't try now, we
never will. The question is, where else do we go? As soon as the
Hachette news started bubbling up last week, I made a point of stopping
at a couple of bookstores to get titles I needed that I would otherwise
have one-clicked for. This is the sort of thing I would have been doing
all along, if I were a better person.
what about the ordinary inconvenient purchases, the things Amazon has
made it thoughtlessly, seductively convenient to buy? So many
alternatives are terrible or insecure or terrible and insecure. I only
just finished changing what I hope was the last of my accounts with a
canceled credit card number on file, because I was foolish enough to
duck into a bricks-and-mortar Target when I was back at my mother's
house for Thanksgiving. (And of course Target is morally insupportable too.)
it was early yesterday morning that I got my password-replacement
warning email from eBay. I couldn't remember the last time, if ever, I'd
used the eBay account. But now, perversely, it seemed worth trying.
Certain Legos were cheaper than they'd been on Amazon—a little cheaper,
marginally cheaper, the kind of semi-bargain that Amazon is forever
offering to keep you from looking elsewhere. Things add up, in the
aggregate. When I ordered one set, I got an email back from a human
being who was going to put it in the mail. I will use the Legos to
reward the two-year-old in his potty training.
I'm mad they're opening a local shipping warehouse so now I will have to pay taxes. I'm mad they started that add on program I'm mad they raised prime but didn't increase any benefits I'm mad they can't stop fake reviews I'm mad they can't control sellers selling fake products I'm mad.... but I still order from there daily.
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