Amazon’s Inhuman Customer Service Issues Death Sentence to Local Library Fundraising

Yves here. Aside from the human tragedy here, one has to assume that Amazon’s fault-intolerance for online book vendors is no accident. After all, used book sellers compete with Amazon’s own new book and Kindle operations. Amazon would rather not have used book sales exist at all, so it probably regards what it can do at the margin (or more than at the margin) to clip their wings be all to the good.

One also has to wonder if Amazon’s rigidity here is also due to the fact that the bookseller is a library, since libraries undermine the need to buy books. If any readers know of other libraries being treated badly by Amazon, please pipe up in comments.

Hoisted from comments:

kareninca
September 26, 2017 at 6:45 pm

I am getting to see the power of Amazon’s monopoly first hand. I volunteer for an organization that holds book sales to support the local library. We also sell books online – on Amazon. About a third of our sales are through Amazon. This summer, one of our two paid people, who fulfills online sales, went on vacation. He recommended that our Amazon store be shut down while he was gone, so that no mistakes would be made in his absence. His recommendation was not taken. In his absence, volunteers made a few mistakes; not big ones; trivial ones. And so, Amazon shut down the store: for real, permanently. And that is that. There is no recourse. There is no human to . There is no way of undoing this. Amazon doesn’t care; this is a trivial amount of money to them. They don’t want to deal with nuisances like imperfect humans, and they don’t have to.

So, my main problem is not the income for our organization. It is the effect it is having on the employee (who I do not supervise in any way, and I rarely see due to my volunteering schedule). He has always had back issues but since the store shut down he is in unrelenting pain. He can barely move. His physical agony is unrelenting. He has crappy health insurance that covers surgery, but doesn’t cover alternative treatments, and of course he has no money since his pay is not high and this is an extremely costly area to live in. So his doctors are starting to push surgery. It is all due to this Amazon store thing; he is like an utterly helpless squashed bug. The organization is not going to lay him off, I’m sure, but the point of his employment is gone. The volunteers who are in charge of his being employed themselves have a sick, hunted look.

There is some way of selling some books still through Amazon, in which they hold them. But that is complicated and doesn’t work for books that sell very slowly – like antiquarian books; the ones I most hope to see placed. The more I hear about this, and think about this, the more I see that Amazon is the only game in town. No-one buys books on Ebay. No-one goes to individual online bookstores anymore. Amazon “owns” the book business.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

80 comments

          1. Brian C Clark

            Hmmm. I’ve been a seller on Amazon for many years. They recently shut down my ability to sell “certain new and popular music” titles — whatever that means. I only know on a case by case basis when I go to list the CD. Looking around on forums, I saw that some people were taking their sales to eBay while others were saying what I see above: that Amazon owns the online CD sales business. I went ahead and listed a bunch of CDs on eBay. They sold quickly and sometimes for more than I could have gotten on Amazon. So I suggest you do try selling books on eBay. To paraphrase the Pythons: eBay is not dead yet….

  1. Edward Downie

    Allow me to quote from a favorite source (me!):
    “We need to shrink down the mega-multi-nationals so we can drown them in a bathtub if need be.”
    https://.com/gedownie/status/912988626321121280

  2. ambrit

    Books do get sold on e-bay, but the process is fraught with “fees” that will drain any net profit from what is a generally low price items’ sale. E-bay doesn’t seem to care about books, or individual sellers as a group, either.
    Abe books was a good source before Amazon bought them out. Unfortunately, the Amazon ‘stable’ of book sellers is deliberately skewed towards institutional groups, such as already existing bookstores. The requirements for entering, for instance, Abes’ system are daunting for an individual or charitys’ set up. Really, aside from the monopoly seeking aspects of Amazons’ general business practices, there is a general trend toward the ‘ephemeral’ business model, at least on the part of the Internet vendors. Actual books are objects that can be held by an individual or group and reused almost infinitely. Thay cannot be significantly altered, only destroyed, as in Bradburys’ “Fireman.” A book cannot be ‘deleted’ from a file over “copyright infringement” issues. An electronic file, unless downloaded to a storage device, can be altered and deleted almost at will by ‘official’ hackers and “guardians of personal property rights.” Orwells’ Ministry of Truth is now with us in electronic form.
    Time for work.

    1. s.n.

      The requirements for entering, for instance, Abes’ system are daunting for an individual or charitys’ set up.

      in what way? I’ve been selling books with abe since 1998 and a major complaint amongst dealers there is that it’s wide open for every tom, dick and harry –who know nothing and could care less about books –to set up shop and generally bring the trade into disrepute. All manner of rubbish is offered at ridiculous prices, with minimal or faulty description. To join you’ll need a tax registration certificate over a certain level of sales, and that’s about it.

      Most of my sales are on abe. Amazon is a nightmare of arbitrary punishments and general bezosian creepiness and I won’t join. Other alternastives worth searching include the Netherlands-based antiqbook and biblio.com

    2. reslez

      I buy used books on eBay all the time. I like that you get an actual picture of the book you’re buying. As for the fees, I assume the seller will fold the cost into whatever I’m buying. I got a lovely edition of Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry there, the 1969 edition with gold ink. It’s lovely!

      1. KTN

        eBay is a major auction venue for rare books. You could not be more mistaken regarding eBay.

        https://www.ebay.com/b/Antiquarian-Collectible-Books/29223/bn_1865565?LH_Sold=1&rt=nc&_sop=16

        It’s possible that libraries should not be in the business of combing through books for high-end items in the first place. The people most likely to visit sales (resellers) and purchase in high volumes simply won’t return to sales that have been picked over beforehand.

        And in all likelihood it’s a poor business decision made by amateurs with $$ signs in their eyes, quite frankly. You have a full-time employee to list and sell a few antiquarian items, often in poor condition – do you know how to grade a book so that an experienced collector won’t leave you poor back? – that might retail for $100, and the customers at your sale are now reduced to those buying the cheap copies of yesterday’s romance novels.

        Think again. This a stupid trend at libraries, probably begun for honorable reasons, but which has now turned into a counterproductive neoliberal money chase that’s a money loser to boot.

  3. kj1313

    I get on Amazon a lot for their predatory practices but Amazon does have a phone number you can navigate to get a human. My sister has done this on occasion. 1-888-280-4331.

    1. arlie

      This number (1 (888) 280-4331) is an immediate hit when I google “amazon customer service”. Trying to find a number within their site is truly frustrating — even though I have managed to do it several times. Lately, I’ve just resorted to dear old google.

      Also, when — or if — you do find the “ us” page on Amazon, I have always found the option of having them call me back extremely responsive. I have an account so they have my number. When I click the “call me” button the phone rings, almost instantly. And I’ve never had to wait more than a few seconds for someone there to pick up.

      No general endorsement of Amazon intended or implied.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      Exactly. I switched to alibris a long time ago. They are a collection of many sellers. I buy mostly used books. Their prices are as good, usually better than Amazon sellers. I’ve had a issues with delivery twice and they are taken care of very well. Only place I buy from online.

          1. Mike

            I think the biggest issue with Alibris is its limited reach. Amazon does indeed have the largest distribution possible, which makes any other market one you would use in addition to an Amazon-centered one.

            Sad, indeed – I once sold used books over Alibris and Abe, with some side distribution by direct with booksellers in my city. Lots of labor and little compensation, which is usual in bookstores generally. I was quite lucky to sell 50% of my catalog (radical and “alternate” history, labor and industrial studies, some fiction). Many bookstores went under during my online career, mostly due to Amazon. Many with the talent went into manuscripts, ephemera, appraisal work, or out of the business entirely. Into things Amazon couldn’t touch.

  4. lacking interstitial matrix

    I self publish. It pays for itself and then some. Of a local nature, my offerings are popular, locally. I use to sell on Amazon, but no more. I didn’t like how little they paid me per copy, but there was nothing I could do about that since they called the shots and I grudgingly accepted. What killed my interest in selling through them was they sent a damaged book back to me, by first class mail! (I didn’t damage it. I’m always extremely careful packing books for shipping.) Amazon charged me over $5 to ship back a book that cost $2.50 to print. Do the math. If they had told me they had a damaged copy, I would have said to throw it away.

    Didn’t know that about Abe Books. Bummer. Glad I now know. Predators. As far as I’m concerned, Amazon is the Monsanto of online selling. Both are toxic.

    1. kgc

      An Oregon native, have used Powell’s as a consumer (not vendor) since the late 60s/early 70s, when I was a Reed student (unofficial slogan: communism/atheism/free love). If they sell used books, they must buy used books. Worth looking into – I like their attitude, not only those many years ago, but now. They’re not into NYC’s fraction-of-basis-points mentality (there are many things to love about NYC, where I’ve lived for over 30 years now, but that’s not one of them).

  5. Paul Harvey 0swald

    What about Better World Books? Anything there? And I’m also disappointed to hear that Abe was swallowed by Amazon. Is there no where to hide from the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse?

    1. kareninca

      I think that they are a seller themselves; I don’t think we could sell through them. They have asked us if we want to sell to them in bulk, but we give any unsold books to a different nonprofit.

  6. evodevo

    What about Thriftbooks.com? I buy almost all my books there, and a lot are obviously former library books. I don’t know about their business model, but you could inquire…

    1. Rojo

      I hate the idea of buying library books online, unless its from an actual library. Otherwise I might be abetting theft.

      1. kareninca

        Oh, you ought to buy ex-library books!! Our sales originally began because local people were tired of seeing ex-library books being tossed by the thousands into dumpsters. If people don’t buy them, there is no other destination for them once the library no longer wants them – and libraries discard huge numbers of books; you’d be amazed. I think the odds that you’re buying a stolen library book are pretty small.

  7. Michael C

    It’s the dictatorship of the oligarchs, the natural outcome of unbridled monopoly power. As consumers,
    …er…I mean citizens since it is about the power to control these entities through laws, we have been slowly conditioned to accept whatever these entities deem is customer service as the natural order of things. We fill our own soft drinks at restaurants, fill our own gas and check our own oil at gas stations (my age is showing here, I know), and spend countless minutes on the phone to customer service in a mindless and endless back loop speaking or punching numbers into a menu that takes us through all the levels of Dante’s Inferno, and then we are asked by a computer voice to stay on the phone longer to answer questions so that the indifferent non-existent human can show us how important customer service is to the behemoth.

    More and more over the last 40 years I have come to realized the world is organized by the profit motive, and that it is a lunatic way to run the world. The only keeping us from changing it is the conditioning that has made us all a disjointed, unconnected, and passive citizenry. How long? How long?

  8. Matthew

    Putting Amazon’s CS aside, I’m not understanding the connection between not being able to sell books on Amazon and excruciating back pain.

    1. Lois

      Major stress response. I have terrible shoulders from years of computer work and multiple car accidents. My pain gets very bad when stressed (and thus I’m unconsciously clenching them).

  9. SpringTexan

    Why can’t the organization just open a new email account with a new email provider and start a whole new store and re-list the inventory? No it shouldn’t have happened, but I’m not really understanding why they can’t recover by being a little devious. Maybe it really is impossible, but (having sold books on amazon myself) it’s not obvious to me why.

  10. Quade

    . In his absence, volunteers made a few mistakes; not big ones; trivial ones.

    We screwed up, amazon took action to help the buyers and now we’re shutdown because we were unreliable. All the rest seems to be a sob story.

    A more proactive approach might be to have the volunteer create his own new amazon web store then sell the books there as someone else since the other people clearly can’t be trusted.

    I’m unclear how this is an Amazon problem.

    1. lb

      Sellers’ lack of recourse due to control of a marketplace by a single megalithic corporate entity is a problem whether you’re sympathetic to this individual story (why not?) or not. In some product areas, eBay is and has been similar, and they changed their policies and mechanisms for recourse over the years arbitrarily, causing great pain for sellers who had nowhere else to go. Their support process was said to be awful from people I knew who used them routinely, including those with inside s at times.

      The suggestion of creating new Amazon web stores, new accounts and the like is probably against the policies of Amazon and therefore fraudulent. I don’t see working within the system and compromising oneself to reinforce the power of the abuser as a healthy suggestion that will make anything better. It seems more like learned helplessness, reinforced by apology for power.

      1. Quade

        Sellers’ lack of recourse due to control of a marketplace by a single megalithic corporate entity is a problem whether you’re sympathetic to this individual story (why not?) or not.

        It sounds like they were a good seller, then they started to screw up. I’m not sympathetic because this problem sounds self induced.

        This seems to come down to whether I should worry about the theoretical problems caused by amazon’s control over the market or worry about poor quality sellers that Amazon ruthlessly roots out. I’m more concerned about poor quality sellers and am happy that Amazon shuts them down. You’re either a quality seller or you aren’t. Apparently they were but then they failed to continue to be.

        The suggestion of creating new Amazon web stores, new accounts and the like is probably against the policies of Amazon and therefore fraudulent. I don’t see working within the system and compromising oneself to reinforce the power of the abuser as a healthy suggestion that will make anything better. It seems more like learned helplessness, reinforced by apology for power.

        Being against Amazon policy doesn’t mean it’s against the law. Maybe you’re not responsible for paying your own rent and food costs so you can afford to “fight the power” without being concerned with where the next mortgage payment is coming from. Most people don’t have that luxury. What are you suggesting these people do? Organize and boycott the Amazon marketplace?

        You claim Amazon is an abuser whereas I see them as policing the market and getting rid of bad sellers. As a regular Amazon user, I appreciate them cleaning out bad sellers. I have a feeling the original email soft pedaled their screwups.

        1. Nemo

          Well said. I’m no fan of Amazon’s “big-business” psychopathy but neither am I a fan of “I’m a victim” hypocrisy ingrained into the psyche of those who do not take responsibility for their own actions. There is plenty of blame to go around for the economic, social and political situation we all find ourselves in.

    2. tegnost

      We screwed up, amazon took action to help the buyers and now we’re shutdown because we were unreliable. All the rest seems to be a sob story.
      Either you know the details of this situation or you’ve made that up out of whole cloth because the information you provide exonerating the greedy behemoth would be monopolist amazon is nowhere available from the info provided by kareninca. IMNSHO amazon helps themselves, any other beneficiary is simply happenstance…

      1. Quade

        This summer, one of our two paid people, who fulfills online sales, went on vacation. He recommended that our Amazon store be shut down while he was gone, so that no mistakes would be made in his absence. His recommendation was not taken. In his absence, volunteers made a few mistakes; not big ones; trivial ones. And so, Amazon shut down the store: for real, permanently.

        From the original email.

        1 – The guy that normally handled sales went on vacation. He suggested we shutdown sales so nothing gets screwed up.

        2 – We didn’t take his advice

        3 – We did screw up

        4 – Amazon shut us down.

        Isn’t that basically what I paraphrased in my original post?

        1. reslez

          They made “trivial mistakes”. Amazon’s response was disproportionate, inscrutable, and impervious to appeal. Sounds like a market failure of monopoly to me. I recommend breaking up the company.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Help me. You clearly have never worked in a real business. Mistakes happen all the time.

      By your logic, anyone who sold software with a bug should be shut down too. Please tell me when you’ve seen that happen.

      Merchants who use credit cards screw up and they get a chargeback. They don’t get told they can’t take a credit card any more.

  11. Donna

    I recently ordered from biblio.com to avoid Amazon. Sorry to hear about Abe Books. I wonder who owns biblio? From the comments here, it does appear there are alternatives to Amazon, the behemoth distorting the market. Good to know about the alternatives.

    1. Scramjett

      Biblio looks to be privately owned and held. They appear to have a fairly descent track record for community and environment (despite their silly offset purchases to “offset” deliveries).

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Another warning for fellow Amazon haters – it appears that the Book Depository is also now owned by Amazon. I used to order from them to get some British scifi that wasn’t readily available in the US, but won’t be doing so any longer.

      I had to check Amazon for something work-related the other day and noticed at the bottom of their homepage that both Abe books and Book Depository, among others, were now listed as Amazon properties which was very disappointing. The other companies that people have suggested are not on the list, at least not yet….

  12. makedoanmend

    (…just a riff on the article’s title…and a little bit of the blues…)

    Increasingly I’m seeing that the corporate/digital world is not actually inhuman.

    It is unhuman.

    Increasingly I have to do a bank clerk’s job, a supermarket check-out person’s job, county council clerk’s job, a travel agent’s job and so on and rarely do I meet humans anymore in the marketplace as their jobs continuously vanish.

    Amazon and the behemoths are just the same phenomena but on ever larger scales.

    1. Scramjett

      Don’t forget doing the job of a retirement planner. How many people basically have to manage their own 401k’s rather than having a pension fund managed by retirement planners?

      OTOH, as a CalPERS beneficiary, that’s not always a good thing.

  13. Alex

    Amazon = Hydra = Spectre = Evil

    Early on, when Amazon said they owned the order data and were free to do with it what they wanted, I’ve avoided Amazon as much as possible, and if possible, I’ll do without it if I can’t find it anywhere else.

    I’ve only knowingly bought something from Amazon once. I bought something off ebay twice which turned out to be from Amazon (no where on the listing was Amazon mentioned).

  14. Arizona Slim

    Thank you for giving me yet another reason not to buy *anything* from Amazon. I’ll keep shopping locally.

    1. Ulysses

      The Tompkins County Public Library avoids dealing with internet monopolists entirely, by hosting their annual sale of real, physical books in a real, physical space: http://www.booksale.org/

      This event has traditionally been quite successful: http://www.booksale.org/where-does-the-money-go/

      1. kareninca

        We hold a local monthly book sale; it is wonderful. The online sales do reach a lot more people, however. But maybe we will be going back to just doing physical book selling, it could happen.

  15. Marge

    I think alibris is still o.k. and not bought up by Amazon. Anyone else know the answer?
    For new books, order from Seminary Coop Books in Chicago. Still a coop.

    1. kareninca

      A number of people have mentioned alibris. It is sounding more and more promising; we will look into it. Thank you.

  16. Avalon Sparks

    I’m noticing this more and more- online shopping is becoming monopolized, at least when using google to get search results. I’ve been shopping online for decorative items for my house, like a square ottoman, chair covers, and a shower curtain. What’s happening is that Amazon is dominating the search results, along with Wayfair and Overstock. The thing is – they all sell the same stuff albeit at slightly different pricing. I go for unique items and despite going through like 10 pages of results – it’s all the same choices shown in the search results. Where are the links to independent stores that sell these items? Maybe it’s more of a google issue, but I still see the same search results when using Duck Duck Go.

  17. lyman alpha blob

    kareninca, I used to volunteer for my local library’s booksale and thought I’d offer a rundown of how they did it in case it might help in your location.

    They encouraged local people to donate used books at a dropoff box and one volunteer would collect and sort them throughout the year. The rest of us volunteers would come in a few days before the sale to get everything set up. A few of the other volunteers were actually full time used booksellers themselves and they would pick through the donations prior to the sale starting and pull out anything of value to resell on their own. This was a small point of contention with some people, including me, as they did pay the library for the books they took but they also had the insider info on what they were really worth to collectors and I don’t believe they paid the library a premium for the books they knew to be more valuable. I would rather have seen these volunteers price the books accordingly and then at least try to have them sold at the library’s annual sale for what a collector might pay and then take them for themselves at a discount after the sale was over if they hadn’t sold. Other than that though the live book sale worked pretty well.

    Now our library has cancelled the annual book sale fundraiser and sells used books year round out of the basement. I’m less of a fan of this idea as it took away my chance to volunteer at something I really liked and it turns the public library into a store, which I’m not a fan of. But our library director does have a neoliberal streak and also had a self-checkout installed in recent years which I refuse to use as do most others from what I can tell.

    Anyhow, they are able to raise a decent amount of money holding various types of live sales so if your area has enough of a population to make it worth while it might be an alternative to Amazon.

    1. kareninca

      hi Lyman Alpha Bob – we do hold big monthly sales on site. They are great; loads of people show up and we sell loads of books (and then nonprofits can take what’s left over). But we were also selling online, and reaching a lot more people; about a third of our income was coming from that. But perhaps we will be going back to just selling in person; it is possible.

  18. geoff

    I volunteer at the Memphis Friends of the Library. We do sell books online with Amazon, and while I don’t personally work in that dept., I have some understanding of how they work. We have had some issues with Amazon’s return policy, mainly that Amazon has customers return any unwanted books (for any reason) at the Friends’ expense, without ing us. Amazon has also recently increased their shipping costs to our customers (even though we actually pay for the postage), which reduces our profits. When Amazon was hacked a few years ago, we (temporarily, thankfully) lost thousands of dollars in revenues. My impression is that Amazon is continually making it more difficult for independent vendors to make money from their online platform. Here I should add that all proceeds from the Friends’ book sales benefit the Memphis Public Library.

    We also work with Better World Books, shipping them our unwanted library discards and donations. BWB does not accept certain kinds of materials, but we ship them literally hundreds of pounds of books every month, and they pay us for them. These funds also go to the MPL.

    BWB is a non-profit that supports literacy programs throughout the US and worldwide. They have been great to work with and imo you can order books from them with a clear conscience.

    (@Rojo, as for former library books, libraries discard a LOT of books on a regular basis. Ours are generally stamped “Discarded by the Memphis Public Library”. In my opinion, any library book you purchase online is much more likely to have been discarded than stolen.)

    http://www.memphislibrary.org/support/friends/

    https://www.betterworldbooks.com/info.aspx

    1. kareninca

      Yes, BWB is great. We give our unsold books to a different nonprofit, but if they stopped wanting them we would BWB.

      1. KTN

        BWB (‘Better World Books’) is not a nonprofit.

        They’re a for-profit corporation/business that does not disclose executive salaries.

        Again, they’re a for-profit corporation with an ethical veneer that allows them to hoover up free inventory.

        Sadly the participants in this discussion are laboring under a slew of misconceptions.

        Why is your Company a For-Profit instead of a Non-Profit?

        At times, people wonder about the for-profit nature of our social enterprise. It is understandable that people question the motives of for-profit corporations when many mainstream corporations have failed society so dramatically in recent years. In our case, we simply view it as the most effective model for spreading global literacy. It enables us to accept investment, to attract top talent through offering stock options, and to operate free of the funding cycles and restrictive grants most non-profits face – all of which enable us to grow the business and therefore grow our positive social impact more quickly.

      1. Paul P

        Region 9A, Local 2179

        The Strand Bookstore in NYC is celebrating its 90th birthday this year. UAW Local 2179 has represented the employees at the famous Greenwich Village bookstore near Union Square since the 1970s. Learn how the UAW has benefited employees at this famous bookstore.

  19. Elizabeth Burton

    The problem with using other services than Amazon is that the number of people familiar with those services tends to be a fraction of those who know Amazon. As long as people are comfortable shopping online, they likely won’t have a problem with going through an unknown quantity, but those who aren’t will just not bother.

    Someone needs to point out to the gentleman now stressing over this matter that it is not his fault. He advised those in charge, they chose to ignore his advice, and that makes them responsible. It’s what happens when you have things run by committee—remember the old joke about a camel being a horse designed by one.

    One does business with Amazon holding one’s nose. Consumers have the option of going elsewhere. Many of us small business don’t—despite drastic reduction in sales volume in ebooks via Kindle thanks to all the extras KDP provides for “indie authors,” it is still our largest source of ebook revenue by orders of magnitude. And there was a time when Amazon was the only market those of using on-demand printing had for our wares, because the rest of the “literary” world sneered at POD and anyone who used it as “unprofessional” and “vanity publishers.”

    So, we continue to hold our noses, because the alternative is no sales at all.

    1. kareninca

      “The problem with using other services than Amazon is that the number of people familiar with those services tends to be a fraction of those who know Amazon. As long as people are comfortable shopping online, they likely won’t have a problem with going through an unknown quantity, but those who aren’t will just not bother.”

      Yes, yes, yes, that is exactly it. Exactly. Other sites are wonderful, but people have heard of and use Amazon, and the odds that they have heard of the other sites, and look on them, is much smaller.

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Not everybody has the values, personality characteristics and background so richly rewarded under neoliberalism. Difficult not to contrast the behavior displayed here with that of Andrew Carnegie, who funded the development of public libraries (as well as education and peace initiatives).

    Amazing what level of wealth and control can be gained over two decades of Wall Street, corporate media and USG support; tax forbearances by state and local governments; and nonenforcement of anti-trust laws.

    Not to diminish the concept; the technology; the energy, creativity, managerial talent and intelligence; or that Alibaba is waiting in the wings in attractive global markets… but whatever happened to pride in a social conscience?

    1. Scramjett

      I think we are witnessing, on a far larger scale, the same kind of corruption, cronyism and merger of corporate and state power that was such a dominate feature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The tech companies of today are not unlike the heavy industries, rail road companies, oil companies and automobile companies of that era. This time, however, their power is so complete that I don’t know what, if anything, can break it.

      1. Ulysses

        We need to break the myth of meritocracy– that gives our neofeudal/neoliberal overlords the same arrogance as the old feudal nobility, without even a feeble corrective to their predations in a sense of noblesse oblige!

    2. Ulysses

      “Whatever happened to pride in a social conscience?”

      This is the question of the hour. It seems like many of our modern squillionaires don’t bother to buy those fig-leaves of respectability– that the robber barons, like Carnegie and Rockefeller, acquired with their cultural endowments.

      Neofeudalism = all of the rapacious cruelty of traditional feudalism, without any archaic notions of decency, family honor, or even bare humanity to stimulate the consciences of today’s squillionaires.

  21. Scramjett

    John Oliver did a great piece on Corporate Consolidation. It only scratches the surface, and Amazon only gets a mention, but it’s still pretty good.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00wQYmvfhn4

  22. RickM

    Corporate consolidation, from the world of biological sciences: Back when I was a technician, we needed a chemical. Source #1, out of stock, so I went to Source #2. Turns out that #2 had been bought by #1, so nothing in stock. Same with Source #3. Recently the one company that synthesized the major chemicals used in buffer solutions was bought out by Source #1, which had used this company for their “private label” materials. I received a nice email informing me that all was good. Not so much. Sometimes being near retirement age, if that is ever possible, is an unalloyed good.

    In the specialty reagent/chemical/small instrument market for products used in molecular biology, there are only two, maybe three if I think really hard, independents left. They get as much of my business as possible. Everything else, crappified beyond imagining and expensive, but their marketing presence is really good.

  23. kareninca

    Thank you very much for the comments from everyone. I am rereading them several times and writing up the suggestions for our volunteers to look into.

  24. joe defiant

    I used to sell on amazon and got kicked off because out of about 1000 orders in three months 5 people gave wrong addresses and various other nonsense and left bad reviews. It is nearly impossible to get back on. I started a new LLC, opened a new bank account under a different name, used a different address, name, etc. Different IP address, different laptop with different MAC address, different internet service altogether. You have to change EVERYTHING to have any hope of tricking them. There are forums and IRC channels where people discuss this kind of thing. You can purchase a “good” amazon account but most don’t last past 90 days unless you sell different products in a different category. The only thing linking me was still being in Brooklyn, NY and selling some of the same products. They suspended me after about 3 months saying the account was linked to a suspended account with no recourse. Their algorithm ends up catching a ton of innocent people who get linked to suspended accounts as well as actual “guilty” ones like me. My business went down the toilet after that and is now gone. Having felonies on my record for continuing to do robin hood hacker credit card/phreaking activities after turning 18 in the early 90’s makes it hard to get a job, the small business was perfect until it was not. It’s virtually impossible to run a private website selling anything now. I was selling at a flea market on weekends but without the extra Amazon income it made it a losing business.

    1. Marco

      Very sorry to hear about your troubles. It’s not just Amazon. This is somewhat related to my own experience with Google AdWords. My old credit card attached to the account was expiring so I added a new one. Simply because the address for the new CC was different (um…people move) Google suspended my account for “possible” fraud activity. I’m lucky as I was really just running some tests but any attempt to fix the situation is nearly impossible as there seems to be no real customer service. Google..Amazon…Apple…Facebook. Bernie needs to add Big Tech to his “break ’em up” speech.

Comments are closed.