reifman writes: Recently, Amazon PR told the Associated Press (AP) that it had 'given the city [of Seattle] tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing' for a story syndicated by more than 300 news sites including The New York Times, The Washington Post and many others around the world. It turns out their claim isn't quite accurate. The fees weren't donated nor were they in "the tens of millions." Furthermore, there have been recent protests outside the company's headquarters for its harms to affordable housing and a friend of mine working in the space told me, 'No one in the affordable housing world sees [Amazon] as anything other than a driver of increased costs.' The company also made claims that it 'paid for a new street car' and donated to 100 charities — statements somewhat overstated for effect. For example, it did buy one of four street cars but only paid for 1/10th of the four car system. It's actually rare that Amazon's PR team responds to reporters at all. The only time I've heard from them was for a Slashdot post on unlaunching their Civic Apps contest, they lied to me. Reporter Paul Constant once wrote he, '...suspect[s] that the Amazon PR phone line is connected to an answering machine in an abandoned warehouse in Belize.'
reifman writes: Amazon's outsourced, semi-automated customer service makes it easy for unscrupulous buyers to prey on its marketplace sellers. Buyers just need to 1) request a return and then 2) file a claim alleging that the item was different than described. While Amazon says it retains emails between buyer and sellers 'to help arbitrate disputes and preserve trust and safety', it ignores the content of most email exchanges as it sends automated emails to sellers instructing them to issue refunds and threatening to withdraw the funds from their account. File this under 'our investigation team does not work according to case numbers.'
reifman writes: "Last week, The Seattle Times ran a four part series on Amazon hitting the company hard for a weak record of philanthropic contributions. One thing they missed is that CEO Jeff Bezos rarely votes, he's skipped 18 of the past 21 elections. Bezos gave $100,000 in 2010 to help defeat a progressive income tax reform initiative and Amazon spends about $60,000 annually lobbying for state interests."