Mind Dump, Tech And Life Blog
written by Ivan Alenko
published under license CC4-BY
posted at 17. Apr '24
last updated at 23. Apr '24

I Don’t Buy on Amazon Due My Ethical Principles

One thing I find very interesting is the popularity of Amazon in USA and Germany (and other countries). But I don’t get it, since the trajectory of Amazon can be seen pretty clear for the past few years. It goes to shit. It’s like everybody learnt in high school about monopols, how they are bad and I hear or read how monopols are bad at least 30 times per year and yet, here we are.

Some time ago I watched podcast of Lex Fridman with Jeff Bezos, the founder and old CEO of Amazon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcWqzZ3I2cY and he said something interesting, something along the lines “there will always be people who want stuff faster and cheaper”. Yeah, he is right. So true.

My issue with them is ethical one and I just don’t want to help monopolistic company to destroy more and more market.

There are many bad aspects that were documented quite well

  • conditions in their warehouses are horrible
  • conditions of delivery drivers are horrible
  • force sellers to set prices to be lowest on Amazon
  • do not provide all analytical data, they hoard it to themselves
  • Amazon basics….platform and seller at the same time, yeah, no conflict of interests
  • overtake audience of their sellers
  • Kindle and ebook platform are just ridiculous
  • Prime and free shipping is encouraging materialism and impulse buys = waste of material, time and energy
  • spam products and they seem not to care
  • some say fakes of luxury and sport brands posing as genuine even with the price. Yeah, I wouldn’t buy this stuff from just some random seller. There are official and authorized distributors for this, or offical eshop of the brand
  • Louis Rossman said they kicked out third party sellers of refurbished devices, I think Apple and Lenovo. Is that even legal?
  • throw away new and returned items - https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/stop-amazon-throwing-away-millions-unused-products/, https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/21/22543527/amazon-unsold-products-destruction-investigation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1yqcagavfY. This is not acceptable.
  • good sellers are getting screwed so much it is better to leave
  • affiliates - we all search “best ….”, but these days most of these sites are just trash, don’t even test products, copy texts from other sources, are abusing SEO, using AI to generate shit and they live off commisions received from links to Amazon. The good days of The Wirecutter are gone… - https://housefresh.com/david-vs-digital-goliaths/

It is easy to forget about landfills since they are usually a few kilometers away from a city, far from to be always on sight, not so much in villages. It is less fun when you find out that stuff is leeching into the water. Or see illegal dumps. Or go on a train somewhere and see stuff from there. And recycling - how much energy - electricity, gas and man hours is spent to manufacture an item. Usually a lot. And it is not 100%, far from that.

Good aspects:

  • reviews are useful (cheap, often bought items or in general easily dropshipped Chinese made….these reviews are most likely fake or paid to third party fake)
  • you can get there almost everything, including headphones spare parts
  • wishlist and affiliates - this is what is making them popular among people on internet. People earning commisions = they funnel people to them with the excitement or even spam links
  • book publishing - back then in 2005 it was huge, especially for low volume highly technical books. Repect for that

I don’t know what to think about Audible, Amazon Studios and Amazon games. I just avoid Audible, because of DRM. I had to remove it once and that was enough. Not a problem, but….from the long term perspective, pointless. Amazon Movie Studios I respect. Games…they seem to be incompetent. Money does not buy everything. AWS is OK I guess. Goodreads is not bad too, but the site is messy and ugly.

I spent lot of money at Book Depository which was owned by Amazon. And it got killed of last year. Fortunately alternatives showed up. Also I bought like 4 items fulfilled by Amazon. Yes, Chinese sellers of the audio equipment. And I made like two orders there so far.

Why do I avoid spending money? I just don’t want our market end up in their embrace. Fuck that. I like that there are hundreds of various shops in CZ/SK I can choose from. Sometimes I can even find serious (usable) shops in EU.

Cory Doctorow year before last year coined the term enshittification - https://pluralistic.net/2022/11/28/enshittification/ also to Amazon and I have to agree.

The search functionality is shit, sometimes I click on a link to Amazon for a specific item from an old YouTube video and I’m shown some fucking random iPhone case. If you want to buy items for home or electronics or clothes, expect low quality and very bad results with most results paid. Louis Rossman tested electrical fuses bought from Amazon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B90_SNNbcoU and some were not up to spec. Actually I have to congratulate sellers of shitty products (some dropshipping bros in Bali perhaps?). Sometimes I’m in awe how other people just not care. There is an opening in Amazon selling process, and baam! We’ll abuse it. We just want to sell as many products as possible, fuck them. One seller selling 20 various brands which are the same product. That’s a very twisted play to capitalist mantra “freedom of choice” and “freedom of competition”. 20 various way to get one thing. Yeah, just like on Aliexpres.

Time to get to a conclusion - I’m not judging those who are buying there, many just don’t know or care. Also I buy stuff all the time, but these are very calculated buys aimed at at least medium quality (it should last) and there is an end. And sometimes less calculated. If warehouses or even transport are fully automated, what then? Would they be more ethical? I’d say yes, but still, it wouldn’t handle manufacturing unethicalness, compulsive buying or just not caring to plan purchases properly. It seems the recession + inflation may take care of that. Waste is still a big problem and recycling is far from 100% even today. And of course the main problem - Bezos is getting richer, but the countries are getting poorer and buyers get less choice and worse price, even those outside of the ecosystem. I believe money should flow freely without going to the only one platform middleman. This way a part the money just leave a country, as they are evading paying taxes - https://www.investopedia.com/amazon-wins-eur250-million-eu-tax-case-8416058. In this case, as a true passive-aggresive millenial, I vote with my wallet.

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