Let me rephrase that...Why I'm trying to boycott Amazon.com. Because over the years, Amazon.com has turned into a predatory and ruthless company that appears to be intent on destroying American small businesses.
This info graphic shows it quite well.
When Amazon.com first got started, they seemed like the only company that really understood the web. I used them for books, I loved their recommendation system, and their product comments were better than anywhere else. When they took over music, I was still quite happy. I used to shop at Tower Records for CDs, but they were left in the dust by having a terrible website and poor online selection. And now everything is on Amazon.com. It's still the place I go to for product reviews.
A few years ago, they started taking over another space that most people don't know about: hosting websites. Pretty much every start-up now uses Amazon's server network because it's fast and relatively affordable. Ever heard of Dropbox? It's on Amazon.com's network. Ever played Words with Friends? It's hosted on Amazon.com's network.
Last year, the bad news started rolling in about Amazon. I read an article about Amazon.com's refusal to supply proper air conditioning to workers at their warehouses. The heat was so intense, that workers were passing out. Instead of paying for air conditioning at the warehouses, they had ambulances parked outside the warehouses for anyone that passed out. To make matters worse, Amazon.com staffed their warehouses with a third-party staffing company to avoid any type of union formation. People were promised that if they did a good job, they might get a permanent position with the company. Anyone that complained was asked not to return the next day.
Then I read an article about Amazon.com using their iPhone app to undercut all brick-and-mortar shops. Users were encouraged to use Amazon.com's iPhone app to check the price of a product before buying it at a brick-and-mortar store. If the user simply checked the price, they got a 5% price cut off of the Amazon.com price. I'm sure for most people, it was a deal too good to resist.
I'm sure there are plenty of people that would consider that wonderfully ruthless business. I'm sure aspiring CEOs are clamoring to share a beer with Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos. But to me that just seems underhanded. There's a difference between healthy marketplace competition and aggressively trying to run your neighbor out of business.
In the tech world, The CEO of Rackspace (the only real competition to Amazon.com's web hosting business) has cried out that people need to stop building their sites to be completely dependent on Amazon.com's hosting service to survive. Amazon.com uses their own set of protocols – completely bypassing established web standards. So once companies have built a product around Amazon's exclusive API, they're stuck using Amazon.com to host their site. No more competition.
And finally, I read an article describing how M-Edge, the company that made the hardware for the original Kindle, was strong-armed into signing unfavorable contracts when Amazon threatened to bury the listings of their other products so that no one could find them. Amazon then started creating competing products that infringed on M-Edge patents.
It's just too much. I can't use Amazon.com in good conscience anymore. Apparently, I'm not alone.
Boycotting Amazon.com is hard work. I had no idea how often I use them until I decided I couldn't use them anymore. I can use iTunes for music. I was thinking of getting a Kindle, but I may get a Nook instead (or stick with my iPad). I get books from Powell's, but their online experience is nowhere near as good as Amazon.com's (and it recently took them three weeks to get me a book).
I've now taken the attitude that anything for sale online is available somewhere in NYC. There are a surprising number of local stores when you take the time to look. Google's shopping site will tell you if a product is for sale near your location.
I've traded convenience and low-prices for good karma.
I still haven't figured out web hosting yet. This website is currently hosted on Amazon.com's servers for $0.13 a month. How can I walk away from that price! There's no one else even in the ballpark. The few places I've thought about moving my site to are also hosted on Amazon.com, so there's no point in switching. I'll probably go back to Rackspace, a company I've worked with in the past who have been excellent.
I hope that Amazon.com goes back to its roots of smart, online shopping without the predatory practices, but I'm not counting on it. When has a successfully ravenous company ever decided to become nicer?