Amazon is getting a lot very bad press in Germany these days - and deservedly so. I have to admit, I buy from Amazon and also sell books on the site. Amazon has a fabulous platform that makes it so easy to find merchandise and make purchases. And the prices are generally quite good. Now, for Germany at least, we know what is behind Amazon's low costs: the workers - mostly temporary labor from Spain or Greece - live in cramped spaces, earn very low wages, and are watched over 24/7 by a security firm that hires neo-Nazi thugs.
The German TV network ARD went behind the scenes to interview some workers:
German labor minister Ursula von der Leyen is investigating Amazon's alleged abuses, but it will be difficult for any meaningful change to occur unless we the consumers change our behavior. Problem is, we have become addicted to Amazon's platform and business model.
Sibylle Haas writes about this dilemma today in the SZ in a piece entitled Amazon, das sind wir (We are Amazon):
Die Menschen neigen nun mal dazu, es sich bequem zu machen, auch beim Einkaufen. Nicht viel nachdenken, auf den Preis schauen, auf den Bestellknopf drücken - fertig. Wo die Ware herkommt, unter welchen Bedingungen sie gefertigt, verpackt und geliefert wird, ist den meisten Kunden egal. Was zählt, ist der eigene Nutzen. Und der definiert sich in der Geiz-ist-geil-Welt eben über den Preis: möglichst billig.
(People tend to make it easy on themselves when they shop. Don't think about it too much, look at the price and press the order button - done. Where the merchandise comes from, under what conditions it was produced, packed and delivered is of little interest to most customers. What matters is what benefits us. And in this Greed is Good world this is defined by the cheapest price possible.)
Meanwhile, Stuttgart's best-known bookstore that specializes in crime and mystery novels is shutting its doors. The owner tells reporters: "Die Leute kaufen bei Amazon" (People are buying on Amazon).