Amazon versus Walmart: Can someone tell me the difference?

• ~400 words • 2 minute read

The more I learn about Amazon, the less it seems like a great place to work, or a net-boon to society at large. Case in point, this article I came across on Bloomberg by way of Daring Fireball:

It's not hard to find other articles condeming the working conditions at Amazon:

That last article touches on a thought I've had for a while now. Though I've never watched it, I'm aware of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and have been generally aware of anti-Wal-Mart sentiments. My takewaway was that they make it hard for local businesse to compete with them and generally don't treat their workers as well. That's an oversimplification, and possibly even inaccurate, but that's been my perception.

Recently I met with a client to talk about their e-commerce project. Specifically I was helping them troubleshoot a solution to their shipping woes. They noted, offhand, that a lot of their customers are used to buying things on Amazon and often exepct free shipping, which they can't reasonably compete with.

It was an interesting observation. It's particualarly worrisome when you consider Amazon doesn't appaer to care much about losing money and will willfully lose money on shipping.

It made me wonder why there isn't more backlash againast Amazon, on par with what I've seen against Wal-Mart? Maybe I'm not looking in the right places? Maybe there's a difference in culture and perception? Is it more invisible than Wal-Mart because it's all online and thus more easily ignored? Maybe they're just apples and oranges and I should do better homework?

I'll admit, part of me wants to stop buying things from Amazon — and probably remove my Amazon affiliate links on this site too. Embarassingly, the convenience and lower prices are what keep me coming back. That and I like seeing the occasional dollar trickle in from this blog.

But if they start acting much stranger I may have to revisit my principles.