back to article Amazon UK conditions 'exhausting', claims union

Amazon is pushing its UK distribution workforce to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, the GMB trade union has claimed. Elly Baker, GMB union lead, told The Register: "It does not have a positive approach to staff in UK blue collar workers, interesting it's the same approach it seems to be taking to white collar …

  1. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Calling your cherished workers "associates" says it all really.

    1. NotBob
      Headmaster

      That particular practice is (as you chaps might say) bog standard on our side of the pond.

      Quite a few retail establishments in this area actually advertise open positions for "associates" (usually "retail associates" or "pharmacy associates" or the like).

      The link from this to total assimilation or any conspiracy theories is left as an exercise to the reader, of course.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        "That particular practice is (as you chaps might say) bog standard on our side of the pond."

        Well that explains the down votes, although those down voting ought to appreciate that 'associates' is a very impersonal word to use for your employees over here (employee feels right at least to me). They are after all talking about their UK based operation in the article. Asda calling people colleagues as mentioned above is nausea inducing and cringe worthy. But hey who cares what the people you hire to run your business think anyway, right?

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          US corporate nomenclature

          When I've worked at American companies, I've always found it amusing that hordes of middle-ranking executives are called Vice President. I know that in US politics the Veep is notoriously powerless, but at least there's only one of him.

    2. Graham Dawson

      We were all called "colleagues" when I worked at Asda, in some sort of attempt to make everyone seem like one big happy group of equals or something. This was before the Walmart buy-out as well, which means this particular bit of silliness was home-grown.

      1. g e

        Colleague

        Does mean a fellow employee, though, regardless of your day-to-day or social interaction with them. Even the CEO is 'a colleague' though generally the work relation would be taken to be somewhat closer than that, say between goods-in team and the top brass

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Possibly to help the Walmart buyout, we have to use crap like "colleauge" and "reach out" and various other bollocks catch phrases to keep in with the Walmart side as contractors, posting anon just in case someone reads and reaches out to me about it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In telemarketing we called our new agency and permanent staff

      Fresh meat.

      When you spend your days talking bullshit to prospects you prefer a little honesty in the office.

      I know, my place in the 9th Circle has already been reserved.

  2. Naselus

    "In response to a request for comment, Amazon provided a link to the "about" page on its UK distribution centre."

    Well, that's a totally convincing rebuttal then. If it wasn't true, then it wouldn't be allowed on the internet.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Maybe no one ever sent Jeff a link to the Panorama documentary?

  3. Esme

    It's because of what I've heard (as in have been told in face to face conversation) about Amazon;s attitude to their employees that I avoid buying from Amazon nowadays.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I avoid buying from Amazon nowadays.

      Well, bring together their unsavoury work practices with their "tax is for little people" thinking, their predatory pricing, and their suspect business practices with regard to resellers, Amazon are really coming across as a responsible corporate citizen, aren't they?

      1. g e

        Responsible (ethical, presumably) corporate citizen

        Largely an oxymoron, surely? Duty to the shareholders n all that

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Responsible (ethical, presumably) corporate citizen

          Depends on whether you intend surviving beyond the next quarter.

          If you want the company to be around in 100years and want the staff that will allow you to beat the next startup that can offer the same product 0.1% cheaper - then a little ethics can help.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Responsible (ethical, presumably) corporate citizen

          "Duty to the shareholders n all that"

          True. But immediate profit is not the only duty. There is also a duty to protect the business operation so the shareholders not only make a profit but also have some real value in their shares and not end up with a worthless piece of paper. Even more so is the duty to work within the law and this story implies that Amazon, in terms of working conditions, are skirting the very edges of employment law.

    2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      nice to hear, I haven't bought from them in about 4 or 5 years now. I used to buy from woot, but then I noticed they were bought by amazon (wasn't obvious at the time somewhat buried in their system), stopped buying from them immediately as well.

  4. astrax

    Not totally suprising

    It's not quite as sinister but I do see quite a likeness between Amazon and Disney. Fantastic consumer experience, great customer care...absolutely appalling working conditions. I wonder if Amazon treat their accountancy department the same way (which they should considering they've never turned a profit...).

    1. Mint Sauce

      Re: Not totally suprising

      I wonder if Amazon treat their accountancy department the same way (which they should considering they've never turned a profit...).

      No no no!.. the accountancy dept get paid huge bonuses every year. No profit = no corporation tax to pay!

      1. astrax

        Re: Not totally suprising

        Sorry Mint, my sarcasm doesn't really come across in some of my posts ^^

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not totally suprising

      Macdonalds should brief their lawyers, I thought they invented poor treatment of employees? Surely they've got patents covering this type of dehumanisingly abusive employee relations?

      AC 'cause Ronald's got sharp teeth!

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Not totally suprising

        they all float down here, AC! They all float! And when you're down here, in the grease and fat running between the kitchen tiles, you'll float too!

  5. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    So if Jeff Bezos doesn't look then he doesn't see this?

  6. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Permanent, schermanent

    > and employs over 7,000 permanent staff.

    BiL worked for the Cardiff warehouse. None of the warehouse floor staff are kept on for more than 9 months at a time. They can re-apply after 3 months and are often taken on again. The only conclusion is that this is to avoid staff becoming permanent, thus saving on pension contributions etc.

    The GMB should be looking into this as well.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been wondering about this for a while.

    We get a lot of US and UK television series over here. Where the UK actor generally portray people with families and day to day issues everyone seems to have to cope with, US persona are quite often brilliant, well educated, succesful, good looking and work 48 hour shifts without even showing the slightest wrinkle, easily finding solutions to even the most confounding problems.

    I wonder if US companies are starting to believe this version of 'reality'.

    1. g e

      Re: I've been wondering about this for a while.

      Or perhaps perpetuate it...

      MUHAHAHAH!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've been wondering about this for a while.

      Where the UK actor generally portray people with families and day to day issues everyone seems to have to cope with, US persona are quite often brilliant, well educated, successful, good looking and work 48 hour shifts without even showing the slightest wrinkle, easily finding solutions to even the most confounding problems.

      Nothing new. Compare soap opera series from the 1980s - i.e. Falcon Crest Vs. Coronation Street.

      The U.S. is, and has always been driven primarily by greed "The American Dream", so everyone aspires to be rich and famous and the TV culture reflects this.

      But the reality of the massive income inequality and disappearing middle class forces more people into poverty yearly, resulting in more desperate people wanting to perpetuate the mythos of the 'Merican Success Story (where in reality you need education, hard work, skill, lack of conscience, being born a millionaire, and/or an insane amount of luck)

      Britons are more realistic - instead of talking about how they're going to make bazillions off some internet start-up selling socks to penguins, they sit and chat about how the weather is slightly more tolerable today than it was yesterday.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I've been wondering about this for a while.

        American soaps are produced for the advertisers.

        If Cadillac was in charge of deciding the story line on Corrrie or Brookside - they would be rather different.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't even call the amazon experience that fantastic these days - you can get stuff cheaper if you're prepared to look and the "next day" delivery option has failed several times, resulting in extended prime membership for me.

    1. chris 17 Bronze badge

      the Amazon no quibble return policy wins it for me. It means i can buy with confidence, even if its a couple of £'s cheaper elsewhere i know i'll save time & money if something goes wrong.

      Amazon aren't the only US company with bad work practices, they all seem to want their ounce of flesh with air of be grateful you've got a job.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the Amazon no quibble return policy wins it for me. It means i can buy with confidence

        I tend to agree, but they even messed that up a couple of years ago by requiring the sender to pay the return postage, which just makes for more hassle. I'm reaching the end of the line with Amazon. Delivery's less reliable than it used to be, they dodge their taxes, they appear to dump on their workforce, their corporate customers, not as easy as it used to be to return stuff......

      2. Sam Liddicott

        Me too; I've returned about 9 toner cartridges from 2 suppliers. With Amazon it was no more hassle than going to the post office. With ebay or anyone else it would have been deadly.

        Of course after 2 failed suppliers I didn't buy my next toner from Amazon either :-)

    2. King Jack
      Facepalm

      So they fail and you reward them by extending your Prime membership? That will teach 'em.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Inspirational

    They should pull in some of these poor slobs to give talks in schools. It should inspire the kids to work harder at their exams to avoid ending up working in a warehouse!

    Maybe send a few MP's in the opposite direction too. That way, when they parrot, ad nauseum, about "Hard working families" they'll have a f*cking clue as to what constitutes hard work.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    Not the Amazon he knows?

    Bezos has had a reputation for years of being a micromanager and a control freak, attempting to optimize absolutely part of his business including the humans within it. Nor is it the first time that the staff in his warehouses have spoken publicly about the dehumanising experiences they suffered while working there. Nor is it the first we've heard from the office staff about the arbitrary, backstabbing and oppressive culture that has been fostered to keep everyone on their toes such as meeting attendance records and emails arriving at all hours demanding instance responses.

    So I really don't believe him. He knows full well what he has created. The least he can do is stand behind it rather than deny it exists.

  11. Banksy
    Trollface

    Not true

    Jeff says he doesn't recognise this sort of thing so it's not true.

  12. Andrew Moore Silver badge
    Unhappy

    But, but, but...

    I thought the staff all skated around the warehouses while listening to the Lovin' Spoonful and drinking shite iced coffees...

  13. Ben Bonsall

    totalling over 5 million square feet and over 4.3 million cubic feet of storage capacity.

    one of those is wrong, unless 86% of their warehouses are 1 foot high and 700,000 square feet is flat. Or the whole lot is 9 inches high.

    No wonder people complain, crawling about on their bellies all day.

    1. Tom Wood

      A lot of a warehouse isn't storage

      It might be a mistake, but a lot of the floor area in a warehouse isn't "storage capacity" - it's taken up with aisles, conveyors, shelf supports, packing benches, etc.

    2. graeme leggett

      I'll guess that since you need gaps between shelving/racking that would explain part of it.

      If you allow 4x width of "shelf" for space, the whole shebang is 36 inches high. Rather better than an escape tunnel out of a Stalag but with that at least there is the prospect of crossing the Alps to freedom.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        but with that at least there is the prospect of crossing the Alps to freedom.

        If the workers will organise themselves into an escape committee they could tunnel out of the Rugeley distribution centre, and make a break for freedom across Cannock Chase, trying to avoid recapture or encounters with the local doggers. When they get to Stafford they could keep their hoodies pulled down over their faces to avoid identification, pretend to be Polish workmen if challenged, and catch a London Midland rattler back to Wolverhampton, before signing on at the Jobcentre Plus on Queen Street.

        It'd be a like an exciting combination of "Sound of Music", "Great Escape" and "Von Ryan's Express", although I'm not sure about a title yet. "Where Seagulls Dare", has too nautical a ring, "Parcel Van Down", "Captain Corelli's Missed Delivery", maybe.

        I claim movie and merchandise rights in advance of the actual escape.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          But why does Escape from Stalag Luft 112B come to mind first?

        2. Admiral Grace Hopper

          "I'm not sure about a title yet."

          The Great Bost Out. Our kid.

          1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

            Re: "I'm not sure about a title yet."

            The Great E-Scape?

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: "I'm not sure about a title yet."

              My nearest IKEA has an enormous warehouse at the end with shelves up to the ceiling. Despite that, there is more ground area with nothing on it than area with shelving. I reckon maybe 30% of the warehouse is actual shelves and the rest is aisles and area for other other things. So it's entirely possible the figures could be for the same thing, particularly if large chunks of an Amazon warehouse have spaces for forklifts to run around, packaging and assembly areas and so on.

  14. Wilco

    Any Amazon IT types care to comment?

    So what's it like in the Amazon software mines?

    Ovs you'll be want to post as AC, through a burner phone in a public place, using a TOR

    Big Bezos is watching!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any Amazon IT types care to comment?

      ex-Amazon here. Not exactly software, but in the tech part of Amazon.

      The reality that NYT is trying to portray is not in line with my experiences. Of course, you have to remember that everyones experience will be different, and there's huge variance in conditions between teams and even offices.

      I found that Amazon was the most fair, honest, and upfront employer I've worked with. Sure, days were long, but my management team allows us to maintain our own TOIL. I was never unable to take time off. I had total flexibility in time in the office.

      Of course, it was not perfect and there was some.... contention between most managers and employees, however I've experienced much, MUCH worse at other companies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Any Amazon IT types care to comment?

        Can you please confirm what the abbreviation TOIL stands for?

        Yes, I can google it, but I will not be sure that whatever I find is what you meant by the term.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Any Amazon IT types care to comment?

          Time Off In Lieu - now that you don't get overtime, the hope that you might be able to leave early on wednesday to make up for being called in at 2:00am on sunday to fix something

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Any Amazon IT types care to comment?

            > leave early on wednesday

            Which of course means your coworkers associates then stab you in the back for "leaving early and not working hard"

        2. rcp27

          Can you please confirm what the abbreviation TOIL stands for?

          From the context, I'm guessing, "Time Off In Lieu", that is if you work overtime hours, you can take time off later so that you don't end up working unpaid.

  15. Fraggle850

    Amazon will ultimately automate everything

    Given that they appear to be taking drone deliveries seriously it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't also looking to replace weak, expensive meatbags in other areas of their business with shiny robots.

    1. Joe User
      Terminator

      Re: Amazon will ultimately automate everything

      Someone has to fix the robots when they break. Or will Amazon have robots to do that job, too? (Hello Skynet!)

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: Amazon will ultimately automate everything

        For sure, but it won't be some displaced warehouse operative who gets that grade of gig.

  16. Necronomnomnomicon

    So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

    Genuine question. The only place that springs to mind as a genuine alternative is Tesco's Direct, and they're not exactly angels who only fart rainbows. Where do you buy stuff you'd go to Amazon for, where they pay tax and don't abuse their staff and you still get an alright deal and can get it delivered cheaply and reliably?

    1. g e

      Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

      Depends on what it is...

      Ebay, Dabs, misco, RS, Wickes, locally if practical

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

        > locally if practical

        I wouldn't touch ebay either, and "locally" doesn't work because stores on this side of the pond don't stock anything. For example, I've gone to Best Buy for a wired mouse, a hard disk, and a wired ethernet card, and not only have they not had them, I've been laughed at for not wanting wireless.

        "hahaha! oh we haven't had wired stuff in MONTHS - nobody buys that any more! hahaha!"

        1. 404 Silver badge

          Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

          Staples does the same - no stock available, 'But we can get it here with Next Day', which means after 4pm the next day.

          FYI, All of them can keep their wireless, battery-required, crap comp accessories, ya know?

        2. 404 Silver badge

          Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

          Yep, I feel your pain - local Staples has become worthless for computer accessories, have to order ship-to-store "next day" delivery (which arrives at 11:30, but then they don't get around to checking items in until 4pm) .

          Don't entirely understand the push to make all computer peripherals wireless or the public's acceptance of them - all the damn batteries required! It's a conspiracy, I tell you!

          Have a great day!

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

            Apologies!

            First reply didn't register, shot past the satellite, hit Pluto, rebounded off Saturn, then posted.

            Didn't see it until I reposted almost the same drivel.

        3. Cpt Blue Bear

          Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

          There is plenty of life outside the big chains. As the kids say, "Google is your friend".

          "I wouldn't touch ebay either, and "locally" doesn't work because stores on this side of the pond don't stock anything. For example, I've gone to Best Buy for a wired mouse, a hard disk, and a wired ethernet card, and not only have they not had them, I've been laughed at for not wanting wireless."

          Everywhere I've been in the last two decades has had a local seller of IT bits and bobs. Generally its a store front with a counter and a photocopied price list (some locked display cabinets if they are feeling a little flash) and staffed by two Chinese, and Indian and a lost looking parkeha. Replace the Chinese with Vietnamese, Koreans or Filipinos depending on continent but the other two seem universal. The trick is to find them 'cause they generally don't don't advertise and they go where the rents are cheap. Find out where the local gamers buy from.

    2. Fred Dibnah

      Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

      CPC, Farnell, RS, Maplin, Ebuyer for computery-tech stuff

      Blackwells, Foyles, Alibris, Biblio, Awesome, usedbooksearch.co.uk for books (ignoring results from amazon and abebooks which is owned by them)

      Indiebooks (via local indie bookshop so they get paid) for e-books

      find-cd.co.uk for CDs (ignoring Amazon)

      find-dvd.co.uk for DVDs (ditto)

      Anything else: anywhere but Amazon. Has worked for me since I closed my Amazon account.

    3. Irony Deficient

      Re: So where do the Amazon-phobes shop online?

      Necronomnomnomicon, “Amazon-phobe” is an inaccurate term; no fear is involved. “Amazon-periphrone” would be much closer to the mark, if this alternative Greek suffix may be adopted into English also. Since I’ve never bought anything from Amazon.com, Inc., there isn’t anything that I’d go there for. Most of my (occasional) online purchases are of books that are long out of print, and I go to bookshop sites to find them. Since they’re typically located in different states from where I live, I’m the one who pays (use) tax on them; the bookshops will pay income tax (or their owners will pay income tax if they’re run as proprietorships or partnerships) when they’re operated profitably. I don’t know what abuse (if any) their staffs are subject to. If I don’t consider the prices to be fair, then I don’t buy. I’ve found USPS media mail to be both cheap and reliable; it is slow, though, but I’m content with that tradeoff.

  17. casaloco

    £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

    "Amazon said it has splashed £2bn on its UK distribution centres and employs over 7,000 permanent staff. The company has eight fulfilment centres, totalling over 5 million square feet and over 4.3 million cubic feet of storage capacity."

    But of course for tax purposes, Amazon doesn't sell goods in the UK...

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

      Not sure why you got downvoted - last items I bought (and it's been a long, long time) were all from Amazon Luxembourg SRL. It's well established they pay cock-all tax.

      1. Naselus

        Re: £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

        "Not sure why you got downvoted "

        Because Bezos is still watching.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

      Well a lot of the £2bn was the tunnel to the channel islands where the stuff is actually sold from

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

        Strangely they stopped selling from the Channel Islands after low value consignment relief (loophole that allowed then not to pay VAT) was abolished.

    3. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: £2bn, 7000, 5 million square feet.

      But of course for tax purposes, Amazon doesn't sell goods in the UK...

      Technically this is incorrect now, for the last three months Amazon have been booking sales in the UK as sales in the UK rather than Luxembourg. Apparently they were persuaded this wasn't on....

  18. klaxhu

    maybe its me ...

    ok, maybe its just me, but could these people not find a better job, u know ..where a union maybe does a strike or two a month to prove a point?

    its not like its mandatory to work for amazon...there are a ton of other companies out there where u can go. I hate it when people complain and do nothing about it to change then situation or the whole job/company if its that bad.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: maybe its me ...

      Yup, think it is just you. I'm in a reasonably fortunate position at this point in my life, having pretty much done what you say and more to get here but I do still remember how tough times could be at the bottom and I have to say that people don't always have options or the capacity in their lives to do anything about it.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: maybe its me ...

        Unionisation is still an option, surely?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worked there festive season 2012

    There were two things that got me annoyed.

    1) In a warehouse exceeding 150m by 200m there is one toilet in an area that you have to walk the long way around to get to.

    2) They mumble about having some leeway about the time walking to your breaks, including queueing to get through security, but then they remind you to be back within 20 minutes of going on lunch. Seriously, I never bothered taking my shorter breaks because there was no time to get there and back.

  20. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    Unions

    I dare to say this is a situation where unions make perfect sense, just like they made sense for places of industrial production some decades ago.

    If I understand correctly the undoing of the unions was something mostly accepted in the UK (as it was in Grumpenland). What we are seeing here is in my opinion _exactly_ why that was a bad idea.

    Quite afraid this is not a popular opinion around here, so let the downvotes roll...

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: Unions

      Surprise! Upvote! Unions are ideally suited to many such situations. I think that they unwittingly colluded in their own demise in the UK by their leaderships adhering to extremist ideologies, rather than pragmatically trying to get the best for their members within a capitalist system.

      1. Uffish
        Headmaster

        Re: within a capitalist system

        Pure nit picking but I would add 'unless a better system becomes available'. One lives in hope of human progress, after all it has happened in medicine, science, engineering etc, why not in business.

        1. Fraggle850

          Re: within a capitalist system

          Yes, or politics.

          In this age of communication we still have a system that has remained largely unchanged in its mechanics and was conceived when the fastest means of communication was horses.

    2. Vic

      Re: Unions

      the undoing of the unions was something mostly accepted in the UK (as it was in Grumpenland). What we are seeing here is in my opinion _exactly_ why that was a bad idea.

      The undoing of the unions *** at that time *** was essential; we were in hock to them, and they were effectively unelected barons. The '70s was a bad time to try to get stuff done.

      That said, the removal of the union system was bad for employees; unions tend to serve a good purpose and should be encouraged.

      The tricky bit is this: these needs to be a balance between union power and management power; too much union power, and you have anarchy. Too much management power, and you have dictatorship. Balance the two, and you have a mutually-beneficial arrangement.

      Vic.

  21. Camilla Smythe

    Amazon.co.uk <resolution-uk@amazon.co.uk>

    Subject: Your correspondence to Jeff Bezos

    Dear Camilla Farquhar Farthington Smythe,

    Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk regarding certain coverage concerning working conditions in Amazon fulfilment centres.

    We understand your concerns and appreciate the time you’ve taken to write to us regarding this issue.

    Amazon.co.uk takes the well-being of our workforce very seriously. It’s no secret that the final quarter of the year is the busiest period for Amazon and that everyone in the company is working extremely hard to delight our customers. Our fulfilment centres are integral to our customer commitment; these are industrialised environments; where we have processes and systems in place to ensure excellence and safety; where we have our valued workforce working with dedication and diligence to ensure we deliver to customers; where we have a democratically elected employee forum to represent the interests of the workforce and where we ensure that the workforce is treated with dignity and respect at all times. We are proud of the efforts of all who work for us. In return for the commitment and enthusiasm shown by those in our fulfilment centres, we are delighted to reward hard work and dedication by competitive wages and performance-related pay. We believe that the Amazon environment is a positive place to work.

    Thank you for time and for your interest in Amazon.co.uk

    Regards,

    Anthony Bennis

    Executive Customer Relations

    Amazon.co.uk

    In my response to Amazon.co.uk <resolution-uk@amazon.co.uk> I did suggest that the reply from Mr Bennis was PR frippery and that if he were to make such a statement directly to his employees there might be a major Health and Safety at Work Incident given the apparent lack of floor space available to Roll Around and Laugh On.

    Having sent the reply to someone who was supposedly responding on behalf of Cuddly KYHead Jeff as a Member of Executive Customer Relations I was unsurprised to receive the following auto-response..

    Hello,

    We’ve received your message and the first available associate will respond to your query.

    In the meantime you can check the status of an order, track, change, or cancel an order, or update your account details through Your Account:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/your-account

    We hope this helps.

    Regards,

    Customer Service Department

    Amazon.co.uk

    Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that can't accept incoming e-mail. Please don't reply to this message.

    Assuming that one landed in the inbox of an 'employee', rather than that of Mr Bennis or indeed Mr Bezos.. and I did follow up to Cuddly KYHead Jeff, it might put a wry smile on their faces. Then again my concern would be it might tip them over the edge.

  22. Jim 59

    " On the way home, I got a flat tire. Whilst kneeling on the cold, wet ground, changing it, my only thought was: 'This is so much better than going back to Amazon one more day'.""

    Yep. That's a bad job.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relentless

    Is Jeff Bozo wanted to call it. Go on, type in www.relentless.com.

    P.S. He killed gemm.com too.

  24. LucreLout Silver badge

    From the article....

    ...employees claiming they are treated with little or no empathy.

    and

    If they cannot keep up with targets, there is no wriggle room or sympathy from Amazon.

    Empathy and sympathy are not why I go to work. I go to work to do the best job I can for the most money, and then I go home. That's pretty much all I require from my employer.

    I realise I'm a tad more of a hard nosed capitalist than a good many El Reg readers, so please could some of those who are big on the huggy feely stuff like sympathy and empathy educate me on why you want or need such things at work?

    1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Re: From the article....

      Happy staff are more productive, and ensuring your staff are engaged with the product and service you provide is essential. They need to feel part of what you're doing rather than just an unimportant statistic. From a capitalist POV, simply put, it pays to look after your people at all levels.

      You can't buy or demand loyalty; you can only inspire it.

      Here, have some research on the subject. We don't need to be bastards to be capitalists.

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=happy+staff+are+more+productive&src=IE-SearchBox&FORM=IENTTR&conversationid=&adlt=strict

      (Sorry for the use of Bing, the Employer's Choice, not mine....)

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: From the article....

        @Bernard

        Happy staff are more productive, and ensuring your staff are engaged with the product and service you provide is essential. They need to feel part of what you're doing rather than just an unimportant statistic. From a capitalist POV, simply put, it pays to look after your people at all levels.

        Agreed. What I wanted to understand though, is why empathy and sympathy make people happy.

        You can't buy or demand loyalty; you can only inspire it....We don't need to be bastards to be capitalists.

        Also agreed. And thanks for the link.

        I would point out though that many large employers don't value staff loyalty. I'm not saying they're right, by the way, but they don't want it because it makes people stick around rather than moving on, so they get stuck with people they might no longer want. The first boss that explained that one to me was a revelation.... I was very young and idealistic then.

    2. Fogcat

      Re: From the article....

      "so please could some of those who are big on the huggy feely stuff like sympathy and empathy educate me on why you want or need such things at work?"

      I'm going to assume that it was an honest question

      Just for example... spouse/child/favourite pet falls sick, you're up all night waiting in ER. You go into work in the morning, you're tired, you don't perform your job well that day. Some sympathy and empathy means that people understand why you're having a bad day and you don't end up with loss of pay, "performance management" or notes on your HR file.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: From the article....

        @Fogcat

        I'm going to assume that it was an honest question

        It was, so thanks for responding in the manner you have.

        Just for example... spouse/child/favourite pet falls sick, you're up all night waiting in ER. You go into work in the morning, you're tired, you don't perform your job well that day. Some sympathy and empathy means that people understand why you're having a bad day and you don't end up with loss of pay, "performance management" or notes on your HR file.

        I've been there (sick child followed by hr notes). I just thought, correctly, that the manageress was a bitch, and pretty quickly moved on to a better job elsewhere. You can't make a bad boss into a good boss, so you're better off out in my view - unless your bad boss is in fact Jennifer Aniston. There's a million companies within 50 miles of you and you don't have time to work for them all.

        I require my employers pay the market rate for my skills, no less (more is nice, right). I'd like interesting work, but frankly, it's optional because no matter how interesting the work I'd rather be with my kids. Sympathy & empathy have never really figured on my list of things I want from an employer.... That said, your points seem valid and I'll certainly give them further consideration, but I expect they'll remain way down my list of things I want from work - they'd genuinely never occurred to me as desirable up to now.

  25. Camilla Smythe

    AmazonBalls

    I have not used my Amazon account for at least three years, if not longer. During that time they have not 'spammed' me. Having contacted Jeff to voice my concerns about the treatment of his staff and received some sort of PR fluff in response to that original query today I receive some Amazon Spam...

    They want me to answer a question from someone else about a product I bought Donkey's Years ago. WTF!!1!?

    From: Amazon Answers <answers@amazon.co.uk>

    Reply-to: Amazon Answers <answers@amazon.co.uk>

    To: Camilla <camilla@farthingtonsmythe.co.uk>

    Subject: Camilla: Can you answer this question about Cyclo Tool Cone Spanner Set...?

    Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:59:46 +0000 (19/08/15 10:59:46)

    Maciej asked "Is this 15/16 or 15/17 ?"

    Why don't you ask the person who is selling the item rather than using me as a 'Digital Turk'?

    I have responded to the question, Amazon says that my response has been published, as follows,

    "I would not buy anything from Amazon given recent concerns over the treatment of their employees. You can probably get the same for a similar price from a Local Bike Shop."

    I have now closed my account.

  26. Derichleau

    Need a UK alternative to Amazon

    I shop with Amazon all the time but I wish that there was an alternative UK solution. Why can't some well known UK companies come together to create an online portal to challenge Amazon. Amazon are not a UK company and they're not even a UK data controller yet at least 50% of my annual purchases are made via Amazon.

    I don't want to shop with individual companies via their websites because they all tend to abuse electronic marketing regulations and they all seem to want to send me a survey. Not interested! Don't want my e-mail address being used for this purpose and that's why I go with Amazon - not the price. If we had a UK shopping platform where I can opt-out of all the marketing and surveys then I'd be up for that.

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