Why I Boycotted Another Amazon Prime Day

October 15, 2020
Blog Post

[Published on Medium]

Amazon describes Prime Day as a “special once-a-year savings event included with your Prime membership.” This event is meant to deliver savings to reward consumers who are Prime members, and attract new ones along the way.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is worth more than $200 billion, and yet he has let another Prime Day pass without providing the pay and protection his employees need, nor has he taken meaningful steps to protect ALL consumers from unsafe and counterfeit products.

20,000 Amazon workers have contracted COVID-19, and Donald Trump has paid more in taxes ($750.00) than Amazon ($0). That’s 1 in 72 Amazon employees (who by the way all also paid more in taxes than their multinational employer). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Amazon continues to prioritize power and profit over workers — after all, they recently deployed communications technology to employees for the sole purpose of creepy surveillance and union-busting.

The sad truth behind Amazon’s persistent pattern of abuse of its workers was thought to be that at the end of the day, consumers benefit from convenience and pricing. However, as Amazon has grown larger and gobbled up more competitors, its commitment to consumers continues to wane.

Recall last summer, when questioned by my colleagues Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath on unsafe, counterfeit, and stolen products sold on Amazon, Bezos feigned surprise and called on Congress to combat counterfeits. At the exact same time, his lobbying team here in Washington was working around the clock to defeat legislation that would do just that. So here we are, as another Prime Day has passed, and Amazon once again missed an important opportunity to support legislation that will protect consumers from counterfeit and stolen goods that are flooding online marketplaces.

As a leading online retailer, Amazon ought to play a central role in ensuring Americans are safe this holiday season when shopping online. As a result of the pandemic more and more consumers are shopping online. According to press reports, about two-thirds of consumers indicate they planned to shop on Amazon during Prime Day, and I suspect even more did.

That’s why it is critical for Amazon to step up and protect consumers and workers alike. Guarding consumers from counterfeit, stolen, and dangerous products while protecting its workers must be Amazon’s primary objective, especially given their size, power, and market share. A recent survey showed 65 percent of customers believe they may have previously purchased a counterfeit good on Amazon and 90 percent of consumers surveyed said they would not purchase something if they knew it had been stolen and was being resold on Amazon’s marketplace.

The INFORM Consumers Act, which I introduced in the House earlier this year, would protect consumers by requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify a seller’s information and provide that information to consumers. Allowing sellers to create accounts, without providing such information, makes it easier for criminals to hide behind anonymous profiles and dupe unsuspecting consumers into buying their illicit goods.

I hope Amazon will join me in putting these sensible protections in place by publicly supporting and working to enact the INFORM Consumers Act. The INFORM Consumers Act is supported by the Buy Safe America Coalition, which represents a very diverse group of consumer protection advocates, retailers and manufacturers which include the health, beauty, apparel, footwear, toy, jewelry, automotive and other important sectors.

In the meantime, consumers ought to do the following, or ask themselves these questions, when they shop online to assure they aren’t buying illicit goods:

· Know the Seller

· Examine the Packaging

· Is the Price too Good to be True?

· Does the Item Description Seem Off?

· Study the Consumer Reviews and Look Closely at the Imagery

Protecting consumers is what we all strive for and if consumers feel they have purchased a stolen or counterfeit good they should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.

But it shouldn’t be on consumers to have to go above and beyond in order to know what they buy is safe for their families. Shame on Amazon for opposing common-sense legislation to protect consumers and ensure they can hold sellers accountable when they are sold counterfeit and unsafe products.

That’s why I boycotted another Prime Day. I remain hopeful that next year Amazon will treat its workers and its customers with the dignity they deserve, but I know I’ll have to fight like hell to make that happen.