Amazon Prime Isn’t Always The Answer
As a consumer and a mom, I need to show my son that the easiest way isn’t always the best
Four pages. That’s the length of the list of things my 12-year-old needs in his backpack for overnight camp this summer. From synthetic-blend underwear to wool socks to toe-protecting sandals, the packing list is very specific — and perfectly calibrated to trigger a city-dwelling parent’s every anxiety about sending her child off the grid in the wilds of Vermont. Lyme disease! Mosquito bites! Dank drawers on a long hike!
As I make a beeline for the computer to start panic-filling my Amazon Prime shopping cart, my son, the camper, hovers behind me. “Mom,” he says, looking with concern at the logo at the top of the page. He recently read a book called Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain, and I know what’s coming next: “In that book, the author works in an Amazon warehouse,” he explains patiently. “It’s pretty terrible. They wear trackers and if they don’t find the items that we ordered fast enough, they get fired. Can we shop somewhere else?”
He’s right, of course. But I quickly calculate the alternative to Amazon Prime one-day delivery: Take an afternoon off work in a busy week, pick him up from school, and make a run to an outdoor gear store in Manhattan, along with a slew of other geographically dispersed stores, to fill the whole checklist. We’d be frustrated with each other, likely not be able to find everything anyway, and I’d be stressed at work and playing catch-up the next day. Guiltily, I keep clicking.
I’m hardly alone in giving in to the seductive convenience of Amazon, which has its much-hyped annual “Prime Day.” With its Prime service, which offers free shipping, streaming video, and other perks, the e-commerce giant crossed the milestone of 100 million subscribers worldwide last year. More than half of all U.S. households will be Amazon Prime members by the end of this year, according to forecasts.
My very unscientific guess is that about a quarter of us have regrets about our Prime habit (certainly a large proportion questions Amazon’s ethics and values) — and even beyond the notorious working conditions for Amazon workers (blue-collar and white-collar alike), the list of reasons to stop…