If Jeff Bezos Is So Rich, Why Does Amazon Have Such A Low Pay and Poor Conditions?
There are always two sides to every story. In this particular case, there’s the third side too, for me a personal one.
My Side of the Story
Just to be clear, I’m not an Amazon employee, and Jeff Bezos and I ain’t buddies. I just happened to be one of many Amazon users/customers. I self-published a book of stories on Amazon. My experience was great. The publishing process is surprisingly simple and straightforward. With an exception of my book cover, I did it all by myself, including the paperback version. This is where my story becomes interesting.
I wanted to order a few printed copies of my first book. As far as Amazon itself was concerned I was free to knock myself out with dozens of copies. I think that the limit is up to 100 books. I’m not sure. The custom regulations in my country work in mysterious ways and can always charge you astronomically. So, I had to keep the value of my order up to 50 Euros.
For that amount, I was able to order 10 copies. When I saw Amazon’s delivery report, or whatever this piece of paper is called, I felt nothing but the utmost love and admiration for my national customs laws. Just for the record, I’m being sarcastic.
As soon as you can see, shipping and handling costs were higher than the printing costs. I can’t and won’t blame Amazon. They made it possible for me to get a printed copy of my book with more than 100 pages for two bucks.
The costs would’ve been the same, if I had ordered 20, 50, or even 100 additional copies. There’s no way I could’ve done the same locally. First of all, I would have to print more copies. It goes without saying that the printing costs would be mind-blowing for me. So, I was more than happy, and I praised Amazon’s business model, its founder, and all employees for making a dream come true for a self-proclaimed writer.
The Amazon Employees’ Side of the Story
Then, I heard and read stories about the humiliating working conditions for Amazon workers. And, I really feel for them. Think what you want, but this is true. I have no intention to be cheesy, but brutally honest. For me, it was personal.
While I was still studying, I had to spend the whole summer working at the newsstand, night shifts only, and without a single day off. Oh yeah, I still remembered 92 nights with no sleep and with NO toilet!
The first and second shifts were reserved for the girls with replacements. Only young men were allowed to work at night for security reasons. The sleepless nights and robbers were the least of my worries. I couldn’t leave my working place, not even for a minute. Where are you going to go in the middle of the night to use a toilet when you’re the only place that’s open?! The newsstands have the most exposed locations by default, don’t they?
Use your imagination because I had to use mine. There was an article in some magazine about the astronauts and their “space toilets.” I can freely consider myself to be one of the pioneers of the plastic-bottle-toilets “movement” or “innovation.”
My big boss owned hundreds of newsstands all over the city. Do you think he cared or knew what was going on? That’s why this meme, I’m sharing with you here, wasn’t funny at all to me.
And, speaking about my former boss and Amazon boss, this picture is the perfect introduction to the…
Jeff Bezos’s Side of the Story
We have all heard the stories about people losing touch with reality when they become extremely rich (I’m not going to use the word “filthy”). I don’t blame them. I don’t envy them.
It’s easy to say that rich people live in their own worlds by their own rules. The truth is that so many people would gladly take the money, but they don’t feel the same way about the responsibility that goes with it. I wouldn’t trade places with Jeff Bezos, not even for a second. I’m sure that I would simply turn into dust under the burden of all daily operational and financial problems and personal responsibilities.
I’m certain that all mega-successful entrepreneurs were cool guys at the beginning of their business journeys. They probably still are, but their business “monsters” have become so big and complex that’s impossible and pointless to micromanage. C’mon, is there a person who honestly believes that Jeff Bezos knows what’s happening in all of Amazon warehouses?! Do you think that you would be any different?
I mean, he’s literally one step away from going into space. Jeff Bezos no longer lives in his own world, he’s leaving this world, literally again.
There’s no win-win scenario here. Back to the original question. Does the author of the question imply or wish or call for the “redistribution of wealth?” One day, Jeff Bezos wakes up and says, I will “restructure” my wealth, so my employees can get higher salaries and better working conditions. We all know that’s not going to happen.
Just like any worker wants, dreams, and tries to work as little as possible and get paid as much as possible, so does every business owner aim to pay as little as possible and profit as much as possible. I would like to write an article in five minutes that would get five million views. You would like to read only the good articles. Let’s be real about all of these points.
If it’s any comfort at all, ask yourself how is Jeff Bezos going to be remembered? Are we going to remember him for plastic bottles or spaceships?
We can write books about what is fair and what is not, and publish them all on Amazon. Nothing is going to change. Do you think that Amazon workers deserve better? Great! Feel free to come up with an alternative. Do you think that Jeff Bezos should be more generous? Great! Stop admiring him and praising him to the stars because he definitely doesn’t need your help to get there on his own.
Originally published as an answer on Quora.