Amazon to Hire 100,000 to Keep up With Online Shopping Surge

Amazon will hire another 100,000 people to keep up with a surge of online orders. On September 14, the company said that the new hires will help pack, ship or sort orders, working in part-time and full-time roles. Amazon said the jobs are not related to its typical holiday hiring.

The Seattle company reported record profit and revenue between April and June as more people turned to it during the pandemic to buy groceries and supplies. The company already had to hire 175,000 people earlier this year to keep up with the rush of orders, and last week said it had 33,000 corporate and tech jobs it needed to fill.

This time around, Amazon said it needs the people at the 100 new warehouses, package sorting centres and other facilities it’s opening this month. Alicia Boler Davis, who oversees Amazon’s warehouses, said the company is offering $1,000 (U.S.) sign-on bonuses in some cities where it may be harder for it to find workers, such as Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, Kentucky. Starting pay at Amazon is $15 an hour.

Things are about to get a lot busier at Amazon’s warehouses. In addition to the holiday shopping rush, Amazon plans to hold its one of its busiest shopping days, Prime Day, in the fall this year after postponing it from July.

Amazon will be monitoring whether it needs to hire more workers for the holidays, but doesn’t have anything to announce yet, Boler Davis said. Last year, it hired 200,000 ahead of the holidays.

One company is already preparing for the spike in orders: UPS. During the week of September 7, the company said that it plans to bring in 100,000 people to help it deliver packages during the holiday season.

Source: Toronto Star

Amazon Raised Prices on Essentials by as Much as 1,000% Amid Pandemic: Watchdog Says Inc. charged inflated prices for hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and other essentials months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a consumer watchdog said in a report accusing the world’s largest online retailer of price gouging. The report, released on September 10 by Public Citizen, examines roughly two dozen products on Amazon’s site. Relying on its own observations and data from price-tracking sites, the nonprofit public interest group documented price increases of as much as 1,000% when compared with pre-pandemic levels or prices at other large retailers.

The report challenges Amazon’s public position that it’s an innocent bystander of price gouging perpetrated by a select few “bad actors” selling products on its popular webstore. It accuses Amazon of price gouging, as well, on products the online retailer sells directly.

The U.S. company denied it engages in such practices. “There is no place for price gouging on Amazon and that includes products offered directly by Amazon,” a spokesman for the company said. “Our systems are designed to offer customers the best available online price and if we see an error, we work quickly to fix it.”

One of the roughly two dozen items tracked in the report, a 7.5-ounce bottle of Dial-brand hand soap, was available earlier this week for US$6.41 from Amazon directly and for about the same price from a third-party merchant. Target Corp. listed the product for US$1.49 while CVS Health Corp. charged US$2.29, though neither made it available for home delivery. Walmart Inc. only sells the hand soap in stores and didn’t publish a price online (A seller on Walmart’s third-party marketplace posted a higher price, US$7.98, than Amazon).

The pandemic coincided with waves of complaints about inflated prices, as well as spotty availability, of such in-demand goods as cleaning supplies and baking ingredients. Germany’s cartel regulator also has questioned Amazon about prices during the outbreak. As part of a campaign against inflated prices by resellers, 3M Co. sued, and later settled with, an Amazon merchant.

Alex Harman, Public Citizen’s competition policy advocate and the report’s author, calls it “crazy” that Amazon is still grappling with inflated prices months later. He suspects the higher prices he identified on Amazon partly stem from hikes by new suppliers the company found during the scramble after the pandemic began. But that doesn’t mean those prices should find their way to consumers, he said. “Increased demand and lack of supply are literally why there are price-gouging laws,” Harman said.

Many U.S. states have laws governing acceptable price increases on essential goods such as food and fuel during emergencies, but they are difficult to enforce. States also define “price gouging” in different ways, with some setting a specific threshold of 10% above usual prices and others using vague descriptions such as “unconscionable levels,” which makes it difficult to apply to online marketplaces that match buyers and sellers in different states.

The report calls for a national prohibition on price gouging and recommends that Amazon publish list prices and a pricing history for specific items. Amazon’s public policy director Brian Huseman in May called on Congress to establish a national price-gouging law for federal emergencies, saying the company had suspended 4,000 seller accounts for violating its price policies and cooperated with regulators in Tennessee, Alaska and Washington to fight price gouging on its site.

Source: Financial Post