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Is Amazon’s COVID-19 Response Enough? Bezos Thinks So

In his latest letter to investors, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos outlined the measures the company has taken to combat price gouging and protect its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite Bezos’ claims, the company appears to be falling short of its promises in many ways.

Amazon, which has long been criticised for its treatment of employees, has found itself in more hot water for its safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just last week two Amazon employees were fired for publicly denouncing unsafe warehouse conditions.

According to the Washington Post, workers have been infected in at least 74 Amazon warehouses and deliver facilities in the US alone.

Bezos glossed over these issues in his letter to investors, stating “We’ve distributed face masks and implemented temperature checks at sites around the world… We regularly sanitize door handles, stairway handrails, lockers, elevator buttons, and touch screens, and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are standard across our network.” However, he did not provide any concrete numbers on how many face masks have been given to employees.

He also stated that new employees are provided with six hours of safety training and that 150 process changes have been made to improve the safety conditions. However, given the rate of infections among Amazon workers, it is unclear how effective these have been.

Amazon.com Inc. packages sit in front of a FedEx Corp. delivery truck in New York, U.S. Photographer: Christopher Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The investor letter also details the latest increase to the company’s minimum wage: “We increased our minimum wage through the end of April by $2 per hour in the U.S., $2 per hour in Canada, £2 per hour in the UK, and €2 per hour in many European countries.”

Price gouging is another area where the company has been criticised during the COVID-19 pandemic. On this front, Bezos was able to deliver some solid progress, stating that over half a million offers were removed from its sites for COVID-19-based price gouging, and that more than 6,000 selling accounts were suspended globally for violating fair-pricing policies.

“To accelerate our response to price gouging incidents, we created a special communication channel for state attorneys general to quickly and easily escalate consumer complaints to us,” Bezos said.

The story of an Adelaide shopper trying to return some $10,000 worth of toilet rolls and hand sanitisers after failing to flog his hoarded goods online has gone viral in Australia.

Despite this progress, there is still some way to go to curbing excessive pricing. A quick search on amazon.com.au comes up with plenty examples of price gouging on toilet paper, hand sanitiser and face masks.

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