Amazon’ monopoly on business


Geetika Mahajan, Staff Writer

When all your bobby pins mysteriously vanish, it’s easy to utilize Amazon’s one-click, overnight delivery option to buy a new pack. When someone invites you to their birthday party and you don’t know what to get them, you can always turn to the dependable Amazon gift card for a present that says, “I don’t hate you, I just don’t know you that well”. The convenience, low prices, and availability of Amazon products have made us dependant on them- and we now turn to the megacorporation for literally all of our needs, whether it be a set of virgin human hair extensions or a movie that’s not on Netflix. Though it may seem like the convenience of the products is a good thing, the surface level benefits of the company mask the habits of undercutting smaller businesses and mistreating their employees. This often occurs when one brand dominates an industry- or, in Amazon’s case, every single commercial industry that anyone could possibly think of. 

Amazon’s model of growth over profit results in them being able to undercut smaller businesses by charging very little for products. This means that other businesses are forced to either make their prices incredibly high to keep their profits up (which lowers sales) or go out of business entirely. Take the example of; a retail brand designed to cater to the needs of newborns and their mothers. Amazon wanted to buy the growing company- but diapers refused. To counterattack, Amazon launched a new brand also dedicated to fulfilling the needs of young families, but with much lower prices. With everyone turning to Amazon, other businesses had no choice but to sell their domains, or declare bankruptcy. If Amazon is allowed to continue moving in this direction, it will monopolize the sale of groceries, household products, clothes, etc. This means that people will become dependant on Amazon for all of their needs. What if Amazon decides to raise its prices after eliminating the competition? What will we do if the price of soap rises so high that we cannot afford to purchase it, but there is no other place where we can obtain it?

Many people are drawn to Amazon’s low prices and the convenience of their fast shipping. While this is ostensibly a good thing, Amazon uses these low prices to cover up their cruel working conditions. If your only interaction with the company is a package that arrives at your doorstep, it can be difficult to visualize the terrible conditions in Amazon warehouses. For example, in 2011, heat levels in an Amazon facility rose so high that several workers collapsed from heat exhaustion when supervisors refused to open the doors or windows for ventilation, despite the 102-degree temperature. The company also uses electronic devices to track how much work that its employees are doing- every minute spent not working counts as part of the allotted 13 minutes of off-task time, whether that time is spent taking a bathroom break or even just walking from one task to the other. Every time a task is finished, workers are automatically given a new one. This type of inhumane treatment is common in Amazon’s warehouses- where workers are expected to work sixty hours a week during the holiday seasons and ambulances have to be called for employees. Their wages are low as well, employees are paid around 11-15 dollars an hour in the warehouses.

Amazon’s growth has surely made our lives easier. It is simpler than ever to receive the products that we want. However, the convenience and low cost mask the more dangerous side effects that the company has. When a company such as Amazon takes total monopoly of the business realm, as it seems to be doing, it can result in that company being free of any limitations and regulations that would normally be placed upon it, due to our complete dependence on said company. As a result, Amazon is able to treat its workers cruelly, create more waste, and undercut other companies. We must take a broader perspective of what these actions are having on our planet and the people living on it- is a lower price or a faster delivery rate really worth the rampant pollution and mistreatment that it results in? And, if it isn’t, what can we do, if anything, to halt Amazon’s growth?