What price cheap goods? (Amazon content)

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  • What price cheap goods? (Amazon content)
  • Premier Icon bratty
    Subscriber

    I am just watching a report on Amazon.de who recently got rumbled for employing very dodgy (poss Nazi) security personnel who harrassed their staff… who turn out to mainly be sub contracted at shocking rates, often recruited from Rumania and Spain etc, shipped in to live in very basic conditions and basically exploited.

    Is this the way we are all going? I’m all right, I’ll buy what I want as cheap as possible and sod the rest of them. I’ll buy bikes from China because they are cheap and who cares about the conditions, I’ll happily ignore the state of the economy and how it affects those near to me by going for the cheapest. I’ll then wonder why unemployment goes up and crime etc, and grumble, but hey at least I got a DVD for 10% less….

    OK this may be simplistic and perhaps if you have no job and are from Greece, you jump at the chance, perhaps the Taiwan bike industry really is full of competant, happy workers, but at the end of the day, are we all being short sighted?

    (I don’t think I will buy from Amazon again by the way).

    samuri
    Member

    This is how every industry in the world works.

    Amazon,
    supermarkets
    America
    The national health service
    The porn industry
    the sex industry
    The sulphur industry
    etc etc

    Find people who need money and exploit them.

    Premier Icon vinnyeh
    Subscriber

    Similar/same has been going on here for decades, (centuries if you want to be pedantic) especially during peak periods.

    Those folk that come and empty the bins in your office when you’re working late, do the seasonal fruit picks, wash the pots in restaurants, hell even the people that clean up spillages in Sainsbury are mainly agency workers -though they used to be direct employees- because they’re cheaper to employ than giving them a ‘proper’ employment package.

    You want to get on a high horse about your shopping habits and you’ll have to cross a lot more retailers off the list than Amazon.

    Personally, I blame whats her name.

    nealglover
    Member

    Personally, I blame whats her name.

    Barbara Windsor !

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    House of Commons cleaners..

    The list of those out sourced and exploited is almost endless…..

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Barbara Windsor !

    I was thinking more June Whitfield…

    Premier Icon bratty
    Subscriber

    Aye, there is a lot of unfair agency work, but no-one in Government seems to question it. It is a dog eat dog world, but does it have to be?

    TooTall
    Member

    This is how every industry in the world works.

    Not every part of every industry works this way.

    CountZero
    Member

    Welcome to the modern world. I do like the implied Nazi connection, of course all European thugs with shaved heads and leather jackets are ultra right-wing…

    mt
    Member

    Not all industry is that way but what you moan about is the case of much of it. Many of us are really at fault because we want the cheapest, easiest, of everything we can with no thought to the consequences in anyway. As a society we’ve been sold this idea we can have what we want and forget everyone else, it’s second nature now. Trying to be choosy about who you purchase from is not easy but making an effort is important even if it makes no difference overall, it’s important that you do it anyway. Shop local whenever possible and think were your goods are coming from, pay a little more if you can and don’t have some stuff if it’s not what you agree with. Nothing wrong with that and it works in for us.

    Premier Icon notmyrealname
    Subscriber

    Sadly it’s just part of the modern world. Companies trying to compete by making things cheaper and cheaper is nothing but a race to the bottom.

    grum
    Member

    mt +1

    I’m as guilty as anyone though.

    mt
    Member

    Grum we all are and anyone who says they are not is thinking about what they are doing. One of the things that really gets me is that we are so excepting about it. Some times I think it’s because we are now so selfish and lazy (of thought also) that we are now trapped in a spiral that those that sell to us have promoted and are fully exploiting. Individually we need to take control of our own purchase power and apply a little thought. It will take effort initially but once you get into it it’s as easy as going to the supermarket but many times more rewarding. A bit of skill in the cooking are does no harm but that’s really rewarding in its self. As for bike stuff it’s hard but I’m proud of my hope, middleburn and Royce BB. Not cheap but stuff last lasts so becomes cheaper in the end. I could go on for hours about this sort of stuff but I don’t wan to stop someone coming along and telling me I’m wrong. They will be in the room of self justification due the there and societies failings, lazy thought I call it.

    phil.w
    Member

    who turn out to mainly be sub contracted at shocking rates, often recruited from Rumania and Spain etc, shipped in to live in very basic conditions and basically exploited.

    While you can blame Amazon for not being concerned about sub-contractors behaviour, who is actually paying the ‘shocking rates’ and doing the ‘shipping in’… the sub-contractor. I’d like to know how much they are pocketing per employee hour worked.

    And as an aside, Amazon’s prices are so low as they run loss leaders on most things and, compared to standard retail models, barely scrape a profit on the rest.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    And as an aside, Amazon’s prices are so low as they run loss leaders on most things and, compared to standard retail models, barely scrape a profit on the rest.

    and do their absolute damndest to avoid paying their taxes

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    And as an aside, Amazon’s prices are so low as they run loss leaders on most things and, compared to standard retail models, barely scrape a profit on the rest.

    and do their absolute damndest to avoid paying their taxes

    julianwilson
    Member

    And as an aside, Amazon’s prices are so low as they run loss leaders on most things and, compared to standard retail models, barely scrape a profit on the rest.

    …and until that tax bubble bursts soon, the stuff they post from the channel islands (CD’s and toys in my personal experience), and the different approach they have to paying corporation tax in countries you don’t really make all that many of your sales in) that you can take when you run a company and make sales all over the world. 😕 In fact there are seven ‘different’ amazons I can name off the top of my head. (.com, .jp etc) I expect it’s much easier to manage your overheads with the tax flexibility this can bring.

    [edit] it is well known that if you buy from any of the european amazons (as opposed to the retailers that operate within amazon, you know what I mean) then your stuff comes usually from the closest amazon-run warehouse that has the stock, ie you can buy something for £30 from uk amazon and exactly the same product for 30 euros from german amazon and it may well come in the same box from the same place and arrive just as quickly. This can be great for bargain hunting (often differences in price of 30% or so between the euro amazons) but makes makes Amazon’s profit/tax shifting all the more obvious.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    Its pretty near impossible to be fully informed about a companies ethics when making a purchase. This is why we have elected representatives to set laws to set the ethical standards we expect. Unfortunately the system has become (or maybe always was) warped and means they represent the richest concerns.

    atlaz
    Member

    And as an aside, Amazon’s prices are so low as they run loss leaders on most things and, compared to standard retail models, barely scrape a profit on the rest.

    If they’re anything like Walmart, the people who run a loss are probably the people who sell to Amazon. Their goal is not to have stock they can’t sell so when they’re not shifting or just have too much, they get the manufacturer/publisher/whatever to rebate or drop their prices.

    That said, it’s common practice. I remember reading that Walmart were telling a food company to sell them TWO GALLON jars of pickles for about 50c which was something like 5c below cost price. This was only for thanksgiving but the deal was, sell at this price so we can sell for 99c or we’ll find a new company to work with. Seems to have worked.

    Anyway, back to the OP, lots and lots of companies employ the cheapest possible subcontractor or employees. It’s why you should always try to be polite to the people in the restaurant or not leave too much filth at work or in your hotel rooms; those cleaners have a shitty job for the most part and don’t get paid that much either.

    bokonon
    Member

    Not every part of every industry works this way yet.

    FTFY

    IHN
    Member

    and do their absolute damndest to avoid paying their taxes[b]reduce their tax liability, as would any business [/b]

    But let’s not get into that again.

    phil.w
    Member

    If they’re anything like Walmart, the people who run a loss are probably the people who sell to Amazon.

    It’s more the bankrolled by private equity that I was getting at.

    Another loss leader – New Statesman

    ocrider
    Member

    IHN – Member

    and do their absolute damndest to avoid paying their taxesreduce their tax liability, as would any business

    But let’s not get into that again.

    Regardless of the turn of phrase, it is morally corrupt. I’ll leave it at that 😉

    IHN
    Member

    it is morally corrupt

    Do you/would you have an ISA?

    Grr, I’m getting sucked in…

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Haven’t used them for more than six months now. It’s been very easy.

    Just saying “they’re all as bad as each other” is pathetic and I suspect you know it’s not true anyway.

    ocrider
    Member

    Hehehe, all part of my evil plan. 😆

    FWIW, no ISAs here, but the mrs works for a multinational that unsurprisingly operates a double Irish Dutch fiddle for all of it’s European entities.
    We’re all part of the machine!

    phil.w
    Member

    it is morally corrupt. I’ll leave it at that

    Is it any more morally corrupt than most of us being paid to work while reading this? 🙂

    ocrider
    Member

    Sssshhhhh, they’re watching [\foilhat]

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    Do you/would you have an ISA?

    An ISA is totally incomparable, its a very small amount to encourage mass participation in saving. It has well defined limits and is absolutely open for scrutiny both as an end product and as a concept. Tax avoidance is hiding in the shadows working the cracks in the system for maximum gain, it uses the specifics of law to abuse the moral principles.

    It is frankly a quite ridiculous comparison to try and draw.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    The irony is that we all end up paying for it in the long run anyway.

    These companies refuse to pay their staff a wage that you can actually live on, as they know that the government will top it up with tax credits, housing benefit etc. It then becomes a double whammy for us muggins taxpayers, as the very same companies then pull every dodgy trick in the book to avoid paying any tax on their enormous profits.

    We are effectively subsidising these companies. And people need to take that into account when looking at the bottom line low price on what they’re purchasing. Its not the price we, as a society, end up paying.

    And then we have the irony of a government trying to reduce the benefits bill by hammering ‘scroungers’, when most of the benefits bill is providing this very subsidy to companies to pay low wages. But lets not address the cause of the problem eh? Lets just demonise the victims instead. Its fun!

    phil.w
    Member

    We are effectively subsidising these companies. And people need to take that into account when looking at the bottom line low price on what they’re purchasing. Its not the price we, as a society, end up paying.

    And if these companies put their prices up we’d be in the same situation, it wouldn’t change the desire for profits, they’ll always find ways to limit tax. The only thing that’ll change is the individual will have less spending power.

    Doesn’t make it right, it’s the way it is. But that’s capitalism. (and no I’m not a fan of it)

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    It’s a CoGs issue really; there is generally demand at a price point that can only really be met by bending peoples ethics / resetting the odd “Moral compass” or two / breaking a few laws…

    The real question isn’t “What Price Cheap Goods?”
    but more “What is the Monitary Value of your Ethics?”

    It’s a very personal question, some peoples ethical codes are stricter than others. The answer is of course the price differential between what you pay to most organisations for their goods or services, and what it would cost for them to live up to all of your ethical expectations.

    It’s not that people can’t buy ethically, it’s that doing so costs more, often more than everyone can afford.

    So what’s the answer then?

    Everyone scale back their expectations, buy less, do less, but those things we do spend on at least carry the “ethical credability” we apparently want? all well and good for us podgey middle class MTBist, but what about those further down the heap?
    Can you lower their expectations much below Value fish fingers and 99p Horse burgers, increasing prices for businesses to adopt more ethical conduct is unlikely to help the poorest in our society…

    “Top down Change” then is it?

    Totally ethical consumption is really only within the financial grasp of the richest in society, who are probably the least “Prone” to ethics…

    So do we legislate our way to a more ethical consumer culture? Again I’d expect those with established wealth would be the greatest blockers of such measures…

    Or is it just balancing Ethics against income at an individual level?

    So OP seeing as this case has riled you, will you now go and buy your DVDs and Books from a bricks and mortar shop for twice the price, where you can directly observe the staff and make a more informed judgement on how their pay and conditions live up to your ethical standards?

    Perhaps you’ll just scour the web that bit harder for a different “cut price ethical online media retailer”, or just avoid purchasing anything dispatched from Amazon.de?

    Just what is the Monitary Value of your Ethics?

    IHN
    Member
    Premier Icon vinnyeh
    Subscriber

    So OP seeing as this case has riled you, will you now go and buy your DVDs and Books from a bricks and mortar shop for twice the price, where you can directly observe the staff and make a more informed judgement on how their pay and conditions live up to your ethical standards?

    You can’t really make a more informed decision, because all you’re seeing is the customer facing staff of a shop, not the supply chain. When I first came to this country I spent a couple of weeks in winter working in a huge warehouse (ice on the inside on night shift) on an industrial estate in London, picking cd’s and dvd’s for distribution to everything from tiny indie shops up to HMV’s flagship. Twelve hour night shifts, one half hour break in an overcrowded portakabin, minimum wage, deduction from wages for minibus transport from Earls Court to the site, no guarantee of hours or work. Understandably, never worked with any British people.

    My point is that the problems alluded to by the op are a result of the way retailers (and other companies) do business, and the majority of, if not all, retailers are complicit in this.
    You can’t rate a business as more or less morally mature by the staff you see behind the counter, or by the wages and conditions they provide to those staff- this is often just window dressing.

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Doesn’t make it right, it’s the way it is. But that’s capitalism.

    No… its a form of capitalism that we have allowed to develop. Other, less toxic, more humane alternatives are available if there’s a will for it.

    Its happened all over South America! Who, lest we forget were the first recipients/Guinea Pigs for this warped Chicago School/Milton Freidman/There Is No Alternative form of capitalism. And they have now thoroughly rejected it! Of course, if you read the (right-wing owned) press, they’d have us believe this amounts to Socialism/Communism. It doesn’t

    People need to wake up! Until we start demanding some changes in this system, our political leaders (they’re all as bad as each other) will carry on helping their rich friends out, to the determent of the majority

    IHN
    Member

    Its happened all over South America!

    Binners, yesterday:

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    IHN – Member
    Monetary

    Well spotted, thankyou sir…

    You can’t really make a more informed decision, because all you’re seeing is the customer facing staff of a shop, not the supply chain.

    I used the phrase “more informed” not “completely informed”, the point still stands, how certain do you really want to be that your Ethics are not compromised by your consumption?

    It’s one thing to get hot and bothered about how a business operates (or another section of a business in another country, which you may or may not have dealings with), but what real action / changes will the OP personally be undertaking, and whining on a web forum / blog / facebook doesn’t count.
    Are you actually going to change your behaviour as a consumer?

    Have you written to your MEP expressing your dissmay at the fact that Amazon are operating an arm of their business in a manner which would not be acceptable to UK consumers in another area of the EU. And that by taking advantage of European trade and border arrangements they derive profits from UK sales via this arm of the business essentially implicating their UK customers in their shabby overseas practises… Have you demanded the EU Act?

    Well? Have you?

    MrSalmon
    Member

    It’s not as simple as just being happy to pay a bit more because the correlation between price and the social/environmental/ethical impact is not always clear, sometimes the alternatives aren’t there, and people take advantage.

    For instance with clothes (and most stuff) I don’t buy much, but when I do I try to buy quality and choose stuff that I’ll have for years and I’m prepared to pay a premium, especially if it’s made in a first world country. So that means no £5 T-shirts from H&M or wherever. But then a lot of the alternatives are still made in the far east, they’re just a lot more expensive and have better copywriting to go with them. So while I’m prepared for the price to reflect some realistic cost of production (where cost isn’t just the cheapest bottom line but all the hand-wavy stuff as well) I’m not prepared to be gouged. A lot of the time companies make it hard to tell which is which.

    mt
    Member

    We can demand from our politicians, that’s good. We should be using our purchasing power as well. Stop buying from companies that are acting in a way that does not agree with your ethics. Do something, stop moaning. Action is positive then tell some why you are doing it. I do not shop in supermarkets, it makes no difference at all but I feel great about doing them out of my money and giving it to my local veg supplier and other shops.

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man
    Subscriber

    I blame this chap…

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