The Prices on Amazon vs. The Cost of Amazon

Carole Cadwalladr, writing for The Guardian:

In my second day, the manager tells us that we alone have picked and packed 155,000 items in the past 24 hours. Tomorrow, 2 December – the busiest online shopping day of the year – that figure will be closer to 450,000. And this is just one of eight warehouses across the country. Amazon took 3.5m orders on a single day last year. Christmas is its Vietnam – a test of its corporate mettle and the kind of challenge that would make even the most experienced distribution supply manager break down and weep. In the past two weeks, it has taken on an extra 15,000 agency staff in Britain. And it expects to double the number of warehouses in Britain in the next three years. It expects to continue the growth that has made it one of the most powerful multinationals on the planet.

Few among us haven't ordered something from Amazon. In fact, many people, myself included, pay them $80/year for the privilege of shipping stuff mind-boggingly fast—and cheap—from them. But as Amazon rises in power and influence, and even in the face of the basic materialist human instinct to pay as little as possible for the things we desire, we need to step back as a culture and makes sure that the means with which we are achieving that goal are sound and maybe even fair.

It isn't as simple as saying Amazon is evil. And how many other industries would stand up to this level of scrutiny? But we owe it to ourselves to make sure that we aren't inadvertently feeding a machine that will one day eat us too.

/via A.N. Devers