With over 1.9 million workers worldwide, Amazon is one of the biggest and most recognizable companies in the world. However, there are thousands of disgruntled and overworked Amazon employees who have more than enough stories to tell about their time working for Amazon. We take a look at some of the horror stories given by warehouse workers.
Many people take on jobs with the expectation of getting paid for the work they do. However, some Amazon employees have reported that, less than 24 hours before they were due to start their new roles, Amazon has canceled their shifts.
This employee posted an email that he received from Amazon. It stated that his shift had been canceled and they would contact him when they have new start dates available. There’s no information given about when they can expect a phone call. So much for a first day!
Crowded Break Times
The COVID pandemic is making companies and employees reevaluate their entire work routine. Employees now have to stand six feet apart from each other and extra precautions are taken to make sure everyone is kept safe during the pandemic.
However, this text from an Amazon employee shows how rules are — or aren’t — being followed in their warehouse. They claim that instead of staggering break times, all employees go on break at one time. This then overcrowds the break room, forcing people to stand close together.
It’s an employer’s job to make sure that their employee’s needs are met. It’s especially important to take note and action regarding any disabilities or impairments an employee may have to ensure that the workplace is a safe environment for them.
However, this Amazon employee states that she was asked by her manager “sure you can’t see,” implying that she was faking her impairment. Not only that, but she was almost put into departments and roles that were unsuitable due to her visual impairment. Unbelievable!
Big Brother Is Watching
Speaking to The Guardian, this Amazon employee said that all warehouse employees were tracked by computers throughout their shift rather than a manager. This means that it’s very rare to encounter a human manager while you’re on shift as you’re being supervised by a machine.
Even worse, this Amazon employee stated that this machine keeps track of when you’re working and when you’re not. If you’re not working as fast as they would like, the computer will most likely write you up. Too many write-ups and you’re out.
Rates are a very important factor to Amazon, and employees will be all too familiar with them. In fact, many of the horror stories that employees tell about their workplace often feature rates. Rates are assigned at the beginning of your shift, and the aim is to keep to the rate or risk getting the sack.
Raymond Velez, a former Amazon employee, stated that once his rate was said to be 700 items per hour. Meaning that he had to pack and appropriately label 700 items per hour during his shift.
Clean Ups Required
Several things can happen that can mess up someone’s rate and productivity during their shift. When speaking to the press, Rina Cummings mentioned a number of things that can happen to slow people down. The most common was spilled liquids.
This can be anything from an overly inky pen to some paint. However, Cummings says that sometimes that liquids in envelopes will burst on the conveyor belt and the whole process will need to be stopped so it can be cleaned. These result in write-ups.
A Boring Day
This horror story from a former Amazon warehouse worker contains a lot of complaints about their time at the company. They state that the building is quite large, so it often takes a long time to walk to certain places. This can be tough with such a limited break time.
They also mention that their day is quite boring due to the lack of music. At work, you’ll probably not even notice the music playing in the background — whereas Amazon employees do, and it makes their shifts drag on even longer.
First Aid Fail
Workplaces need to be as safe as possible so that their workers are put out of harm’s way. However, that isn’t to say that accidents don’t occur sometimes. Still, there should be appropriate help put in place to assist any workers who need first aid.
This person details that they had sprained their ankle during work. Amazon responded that they would be allowed to rest for 15 minutes every hour. However, if they went to an external doctor, they wouldn’t be allowed back until it was healed!
No Real Change
Despite safety concerns being at the forefront of almost every Amazon workers’ mind, employees still feel as though they are not being listened to. Workplaces often have to go to annual, or even monthly, safety reviews to make sure that the company is keeping its workers safe.
However, this Amazon employee felt as though the company and the managers were disregarding what was found in the safety reports. Instead, Amazon apparently said it was not accurate and that no real change had been made.
This Amazon warehouse worker was responding to an article, which had stated that workers get 15-minute breaks when, in reality, it’s more like 10 minutes. These breaks also need to be taken in designated break areas so they are not distracting other workers or taking up space on the floor.
Given that other warehouse employees have said that it takes a long time to get around the building, by the time most workers get to their designated break areas, their break is over.
This Amazon employee disclosed that during busy periods in the year, Amazon would outsource to external companies to find staff. Despite these staff doing the same work as those directly hired by Amazon, their employment status within the company was precarious.
This means that at any moment, the staff brought in by external companies could have been let go. This could have been for any reason, especially if the company no longer needed so many staff members. One member was let go in the middle of her shift!
Dude, Where’s My Car?
A lot of us who work are familiar with the struggles of finding a parking spot close to work. While some of us may have company parking lots, others do not have that luxury. Despite being a massive company, and also employing thousands of people, there are little to no spaces in the parking lot.
This Amazon employee admits that the parking situation at warehouses is “horrendous,” with employees having to park so far away that they are often late for their shift — despite getting there 30 minutes early!
Parking Lot Thieves
Even if you do manage to find a parking space within Amazon’s parking lot, this doesn’t mean your vehicle is safe. Throughout the busiest season, many Amazon warehouse workers found that their cars had been broken into during their shift.
This happened so often that security would include break-ins during their daily meetings. However, despite daily break-ins, employees saw no change in how security protected their vehicles during their shifts. Might as well park it far away!
No Big Bonus
At the end of the year, we look forward to our bonuses that we’ve been working towards throughout the year. It can often be a lifeline for many of us who still have bills to pay off before the new year, or even get us through the holidays.
However, Amazon employees don’t get that luxury. Instead, they were told that although they outperformed their rates and aims, other warehouses in the network didn’t. Therefore, they would not be getting any bonuses at all. It made employees feel lied to by their own employer.
Keeping Up Rates
As previously stated, rates are highly important to Amazon. They determine how many packages and items need to be picked out and sealed by warehouse workers per hour. However, employees say that the pressure of rates brought down their work performance.
This employee stated just how important rates were and what things can impact rates. Even simple tasks, like getting new bags or cutting your finger on a box cutter, can slow you down and ultimately hurt your results.
Overtime is something we normally volunteer for so we can earn a bit more money when we need it. However, these employees state that during the peak season at Amazon, usually between October and the end of December, overtime is mandatory.
If you worked five or six days a week, you had to come in an hour early for four of those days. They even said that holiday requests during this time were not honored so if you’re an Amazon employee, don’t even think about a vacation during this time.
Being Overly Assertive
Many people will struggle with nightmare bosses during their working lives. Whether it’s a manager who takes their work a little too seriously or one who picks apart everything you do to critique it, we’ve all come across people like this. However, this may be more prevalent at Amazon.
The reason why is because many employees see it as the culture there. This employee discussed that during his time at Amazon, his manager told him that the only way they were going to succeed was by putting themselves first.
No Work-Life Balance
Some of us may consider ourselves workaholics. Often, we’ll take our work home with us and before we know it, it’s time for bed. While Amazon warehouse workers may not be able to do quite the same thing, it does often force employees to choose between work and play.
A former employee stated that the company views a work-life balance as weak, as employees should be dedicating their time to their work to put the customer first. This often causes most people to leave the company after only 18 months.
Always a Liability
We want to be seen and known as assets to the companies we work for. Many of us bring a lot of vital and unique skills to our workplaces that help to enhance business. However, many Amazon warehouse employees feel as though they are liabilities to the company rather than assets.
This is mostly due to the pressure put on staff to overperform in their daily tasks to ensure that parcels are being packaged and sent almost as quickly as they were ordered. If you do not overperform, you are a liability and should be fired.
Treated as a Robot
Large companies, especially corporations like Amazon, want to be seen as the very best. Otherwise, they will start to lose their dedicated customer or fan base to another company. However, this often makes employees feel like robots.
This Amazon employee stated that they felt that most of the time, the warehouse staff were treated like robots, with the expectation to do things that were often impossible. This is because of the high rates that are set at the beginning of the day and other job requirements.
We all hope to work somewhere where there’s a great relationship between other employees and managers. For some of us, the highlight of our workday can be working alongside our closest friends. However, this isn’t normally the case when working at an Amazon warehouse.
Instead, this employee says that the experience of working at Amazon is only good if you manage to fall into a good team with a good manager, which they describe as incredibly rare. This is because most people are miserable and are only there for the paycheck.
Not Supporting Sick Employees
It’s never ideal when we have to take time off work for an injury. This can leave us without a paycheck for any number of months depending on the type of injury we have. However, we’re usually hopeful that our work will be as supportive and understanding as possible.
In an interview, this employee admitted that they had been put out of work twice in the last year due to knee pain. The second time was caused by their manager at Amazon ignoring medical restrictions for their latest surgery.
No Social Distancing
Most of us have been lucky and can continue working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many key services are still operating. Workers have to wear masks and need to be at least six feet apart from each other to diminish any risk they have of catching COVID.
However, many employees who have expressed their concern with Amazon’s lack of action to ensure employees are following these new precautions are told that they can just stay home. This isn’t an option as many people still need to be paid, and so, they put themselves at risk.
Not Enough PPE
Many Amazon employees have criticized the company’s failure to properly protect its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees should regularly sanitize and wash down their workstation, especially if people have been using it before them.
However, people have now stated that there aren’t enough PPE or cleaning supplies in the warehouses to ensure employees are safe. After this person went to their manager to discuss their concerns, they were told that “it’s better than nothing.” Disgraceful!
Sitting on the Floor
People are starting to have to get creative when it comes to finding places to sit during their breaktimes. As there are only one or two designated break areas, when all the warehouse employees go on break, there’s barely anywhere to sit.
As people are standing all day while working, the most they want to do is sit down for their 10-minute break. However, there are not enough chairs for people to sit down and stay socially distanced. Employees have resorted to sitting on milk crates in hallways.
Sometimes we may feel that our to-do lists are never-ending, but that really is the reality for Amazon warehouse workers. This worker discloses that their scan gun is multifunctional — becoming their own personal manager to track their workday.
This gun would report how long it would take for someone to complete an order, how much time they spent in the bathroom, how many times they stopped to talk to their boss, and more. Everything was captured using the scan gun and there’s no escaping it.
If you’re working on your feet, you sometimes don’t realize how many steps you’ve done, or how far you’ve walked in miles. People who have worked at Amazon expressed how exhausted they felt after walking about during their shift.
They said that it took about two weeks for their body to adapt to walking the equivalent of 15 miles per shift, and doing hundreds of squats a day. After that, it was the emotional and mental toll of having their every step tracked and traced by a robot.
Not Drinking Water
As previously mentioned, it’s impossible to escape the robots who put targets and rates on shift workers. With online shopping becoming even more popular during the pandemic, targets and rates have increased exponentially. In turn, this means that workers have to work even harder to meet them.
However, these issues often come at a detrimental cost. In favor of keeping their rate high so that they aren’t written up, some employees have admitted to not drinking water, as they do not have the time spare to factor in toilet breaks.
Amazon warehouses are huge. Often, they can stretch for miles without people even noticing. However, there does bring a key issue of bathroom placements. Some workers will have to walk further than others to go to the bathroom, meaning that the more time they spend away, the lower their rate is.
To combat this, some employees have decided that if Amazon won’t give them the time to walk to the bathroom, or won’t build bathrooms closer, they’ll make their own. Employees admitted to using plastic bottles during their shift as a makeshift toilet.
Sanctioning Workers With Cancer
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating for someone, and their entire family circle. It can throw people’s lives into disarray as they try to balance out resting and working enough to be able to afford treatment. However, this employee’s experience with Amazon speaks volumes.
After telling her employer about her breast cancer diagnosis, the employee was put on a Performance Improvement Plan. Within Amazon, this often means that an employee’s work performance is being closely monitored, and usually ends in a person being fired.
Amazon on the Brain
When going on vacation, it can take a few days to fully shut off and start to enjoy your well-deserved time off from work. However, people who work at Amazon often worry about what they’re missing out on while they’re away.
An ex-employee was so worried about being seen as disloyal to Amazon, she would work ridiculously long hours. Not only that but she also dedicated time during her vacation to working in a Starbucks every day to get work done!
High Employee Turnover
Here is yet another complaint from a worker about having no work-life balance while working at Amazon. However, through this submission, it has become even more evident that Amazon sees their employees as robots who must be committed to working at all hours of the day — even at two in the morning!
If you like to have a few workplace friends, you can forget about that too. This employee says that there’s a very bad workplace culture in which people talk about you behind your back. That reminds us of high school days — no thanks!
Making sure that appliances and touch surfaces are clean has become all too important throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Touch surfaces should be wiped once one person touches it so that it’s properly sanitized for the next person.
However, this employee stated that cleaning their scanners regularly will cause them to fall behind on their tasks and productivity. Not only that, but they mentioned how they have never seen the turnstiles at the warehouse door ever being cleaned, despite over 900 using them a day!
Just a Number
The evolution of technology is so exciting. Every day, scientists and computer geniuses are discovering ways to make our everyday lives that much easier. However, when it comes to working in a warehouse, this isn’t necessarily always a good thing.
Automizing workplaces is a very real concern for a lot of employees. For starters, if their work is to become fully automated, more than likely they’ll lose their jobs. Some Amazon workers already reported that they had created fully automated managers to keep workers in check.
Balance Came Last
It can be hard to have a functional work-life balance, especially when starting a new job. You want to make sure that you work hard enough so you’re recognized when it comes to possible promotions or bonuses. However, this can come at a cost.
For those working in Amazon, this employee said that in their office in the warehouse, the joke was that work came first, life came second, and trying to find the balance was last. This often leads to people quitting once they realize it isn’t possible.
Working Double Time
Traditional roles often have people working eight hours a day, meaning that on average, people are working about 40 hours a week. At Amazon, you could easily be working double this. This employee admits to working around 80 hours a week while at Amazon.
Working 80 hours a week is equal to working 16 hours a day over five days. However, this person also admitted that their colleagues often worked up to 100 hours a week and were always threatened with Performance Improvement Plans. They were probably exhausted!
Holding Back Tears
We try to not let our jobs get the best of us, but sometimes when there’s so much happening, it can be extremely overwhelming. The only way to deal with this pressure is to cry it out. However, most people like to do that in the safety of their own homes, not at the workplace.
This former Amazon employee stated that when they worked in the warehouse, they saw almost every single person they worked with cry. Most likely, this was caused by the excessive pressure they’re all under!
In most other workplaces, it can be pretty difficult to outright fire someone. Multiple laws are specifically written to keep employees safe from wrongful terminations.
However, multiple employees stated that they never felt fully comfortable at work due to how easy it was to be singled out and fired. If you have a low rate score, you could be let go. If you’re late to work even once, you could potentially be fired. Remember to read your contract before you start working!
Sleepless in the Warehouse
We’ve all had those nights where we toss and turn all night long, meaning we get little to no sleep at all. This can be even worse when one of these nights falls on a work night. Usually, this will put you in a bad mood, and require lots of cups of coffee to keep you alert.
For Amazon workers, they’re used to it. The long shifts can take a toll on people and out of fear of being fired for accidentally sleeping in, some people just will load up on caffeine.
Camping Outside the Warehouse
While this person never worked at Amazon, their brother did and the experiences he shared still resonate with him to this day. This worker felt that the combination of long hours and unrealistic expectations from managers caused him to quit after two years.
He also stated that the culture at Amazon was so bad, managers would sleep in their car in the Amazon parking lot on a Sunday night. Why? So that they could be the first one in the office on Monday to review the reports.
Stepping Over Tape
To help people understand how to social distance, Amazon decided to place tape on the ground around the time clocks so that people would know what or six feet looks like. However, in a completely hypocritical move, they took away some of the time clocks.
Not only that, but they also hired more people due to the increase in online shopping. With a lack of time clocks to clock people in, and with even more employees than ever, their social distancing tactics did not really work.
It’s often not a good sign if a workplace has low employee retention. There’s something obviously a bit more sinister happening behind-the-scenes. Amazon is known in particular for its low level of employee retention, and there doesn’t seem to be any desire to change that any time soon.
Instead of hiring people directly, Amazon now directs external agencies to hire people on their behalf. This means that these staff members don’t have the same pay or benefits they normally would be entitled to if they were directly employed by Amazon.
Time Off Task
The idea behind Time Off Task is fairly straightforward. Amazon only allows each employee 18 minutes of “Time Off Task.” This can vary per warehouse but ultimately this means that during a 12-hour shift, most Amazon employees only get 18 minutes to go to the bathroom or drink water.
If you walk slowly around the warehouse when you’re getting water or going to the bathroom, this can take up your time. This means that you’ll likely fall behind on your rate number. Thus, you’ll fall behind on your daily quota.
It’s never a nice feeling to know that at your job, you are entirely dispensable. However, that’s exactly how this former Amazon felt during their time there. They also mention that HR is bad, and it wouldn’t be worth your time contacting them.
Alongside the issue that you’re doing all of that work for just $15 an hour, you don’t really get to interact with anyone else. So, if you do work at an Amazon warehouse, you’ll most likely be on your own while you pack all of your orders.
Bezos’ Parting Words
If you work at an internationally known company, it’s not very often that you’ll get to meet the CEO of the company. However, that’s the situation this employee found themselves in when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came to visit one of the warehouses.
When asked by his employee about how Amazon was tackling the work-life balance issue that many stories above have included, Bezos made a snide remark saying that if the employee didn’t want to put everything into work, maybe it wasn’t the right place for them.