The customer isn’t always right…

… in fact, the customer – and I say this as a customer and consumer, who hasn’t worked in anything even vaguely ‘customer facing’ for years – can often go fuck himself right off a pier.

[UPDATE: OOPS. Someone (Cheers, John!) has kindly pointed out that the article quoted below is a year old. So, while I seriously doubt Amazon have changed their working practices that much (digging back, the issue of – entirely legal – employment practices at their packing centres has been raised a couple of times in the last decade), the first bit of this should be taken with a degree of salt – Mr Attention-to-Detail rides again. The rest… well, I think that still stands, which is why I haven’t pulled the whole piece. Please continue…]

Take this article on working practices at Amazon. For those who want the short version, here’s a simple visual summary:

I’ll leave you to surf the details for yourself, but the most interesting thing is that Amazon don’t deny anything, but instead offer a statement in their defence, which opens as follows:

“Every single member of the Amazon.co.uk workforce, be that a temporary picker in Marston Gate, a permanent packer in Gourock, a customer service representative in Cork or a product manager in our Slough head office, is currently working flat out to ensure that our millions of customers receive the products that they have ordered on time this Christmas. Our number one focus is our customers and everyone at Amazon works hard on their behalf.”

Well, holy fuck, if it’s for the benefit of the customer then that’s all right then, isn’t it? Long shifts, constant monitoring, having to ask for permission to not piss your pants, being penalised for being sick in winter… none of these practices employed against – and I mean against – your workforce matter a shit providing Jimmy Q Fuckwit gets his copy of The Lost Symbol at a rate cheaper than Waterstones, or that little Camelia Queequeg receives her DS pony grooming game on Christmas morn, and not within 28 days after that date. I mean, grud alone knows there isn’t anything more important than the customer.

Fuck the customer. Fuck the customer as hard and as fast as those other nebulous reasons for treating other, usually working, people like shit, the market and national security. If the customer is going to cry a river because they ordered something online and it takes slightly longer to get there than expected, then the customer is a whiny, self-involved, self-pitying little dickwad. (And yes, if the present is for a member of your family, then that’s just a slightly expanded radius of selfishness, and you are still a dickwad.)

Get over it and wait, or go to a shop and pay the full price to get it now. Why should a warehouse of lowly paid staff be sweating blood to get you your underpriced goods at ridiculous turnaround times? What makes you, Mr Customer, so fucking special that you need a slave army to work themselves into the ground so that you get Modern Violation 4 within five days rather than eight?

Aside from anything else, the fact that such priority can be placed on something as blissfully, vacantly fucking trivial as the arrival of Christmas presents shows exactly how empty the talk of Britain being in some deep economic and social crisis is. When we can’t afford to order loads of random shit over the internet, or when those Amazon workers follow the tracking system back to Daddy Visacard’s gated development and raze it to the fucking ground, then we’ll talk about a bloody crisis.

It’s a little early for resolutions, but here’s a wish for 2010: higher, sustainable prices for consumer goods. Yes, HIGHER. High enough that creative people get royalty rates, workers in factories in the far east can feed themselves, and that delivery people in warehouses everywhere can be allowed to go to the toilet without begging permission from the man with the drum.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

Mark

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December 15, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized.

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