I'm glad I don't work at Amazon - but it's not the only miserable workplace

EDITOR'S BLOG: Jeff Bezos would rather employ drones than people. No wonder he's not a hoot to work for.

by Matthew Gwyther
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2015

I’m glad I don’t work at Amazon. Sprinting about from stack to stack in a permanent sweat, collecting packages while wearing a GPS which monitors how long you take for your lav break sounds grim. The New York Times has just earnestly expended 6,109 words showing what a harsh, miserable place Amazon is to work. And I don’t doubt that most of the tales of misery are probably true.

But there’s unhappiness everywhere in the world of work. (And there would continue to be even if Corbyn and his cadres came to power.)  I find it hard to believe that there’s anything much particularly unusual about the US outfit. It wasn't much fun being sent down a mine at 15 and driving a till at WH Smith Stansted is no barrel of laughs at the moment.

Amazon’s approach to HR appears desperately cack-handed. One of the reasons Bezos has made a rare protest about the article and denied its contents is that he already has trouble filling what are very unfulfilling positions in his company. This kind of publicity makes things even worse.

There’s a strong appetite for Amazon-knocking. Some of this anti-Amazon sentiment is down to its dodgy tax-dealing. We want Jeff to pay more towards our schools and hospitals. Also, bizarrely people hate the fact it hardly makes a profit despite turning over $90 billion. This really gets up people’s noses, because they suspect that in going for global domination in everything - even grocery delivery - when Bezos has vanquished all the opposition he will be a monopoly supplier and finally put the prices up.

Bezos comes over like one of those classic high intensity, West Coast fun-free zones. It’s no surprise whatsoever he’s really into drones. Unlike people, drones do what they are told all the time, every time. They don’t get cancer and they don’t need time off to go to the bog. Bezos’s dream would be a business where it’s just him, the purring main frames and a squadron of drones. He’d be like Blofeld in his lair but without the lovely white pussycat.     

The problem is that Amazon is pretty good at what it does. Trying to avoid using it is nigh on impossible. It’s just so darned easy.  However, I am sorry I have to report that its previously faultless delivery system has just let me down. I ordered a book on holiday in Italy, which the seller faithfully promised would get to me on time. That was a month ago.

Mind you, this almost certainly has more to do with Poste Italiane than Amazon’s stormtroopers. It is now August, after all. Nothing happens in Italy in August. But I’d imagine La Dolce Vita doesn’t come high on Jeff’s list of things to work towards. People like Jeff don’t get it. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg took his bride to McDonald's in Rome on their honeymoon.

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