Even people who hate Amazon are still addicted to it. In fairness, I don’t buy books there anymore, but living on this chunk of rock in the middle of the North Atlantic means that sometimes Amazon is the only way I can get certain things. Like buyer’s remorse. So I still order a few things from there now and then, but only as a last resort. I do say a little prayer though, every time, that Jeff Bezos gets a trillionaire’s worth of genital warts until he pays his taxes.
Amazon has become so addictive that it’s now taking a significant share of Americans’ income. The company siphons off 2.1 percent of all household spending—or some $1,320 for a U.S. family that earns $63,000 a year. The main reason consumers open their wallets for Amazon is that it saves shoppers the time, hassle, and expense of driving or taking public transport to a store to purchase mundane items such as diapers or batteries. A case in point: when Charlotte Mayerson, a retired book editor living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, needed new batteries for her old landline phone, she hopped a bus to the nearest Best Buy for a replacement. The helpful clerk said: “Best Buy does not carry that battery, but I’d be happy to help you out.” He walked to his computer screen and ordered the woman her replacement batteries—on Amazon.
Even some shoppers who despise Amazon can’t live without it. Nona Willis Aronowitz, in an op-ed for the New York Times, said that on principle she hated Amazon because of the reports she’d read about the way it treated its warehouse workers. Yet, after her 85-year-old father, who’d been a labor activist at one point in his career, had suffered a debilitating stroke, Aronowitz came to depend on Amazon for making sure her house-ridden dad had everything he needed—from physical therapy balls to cheap tubs of protein powder. Aronowitz saw using Amazon as a “deal with the devil,” yet wrote of her father: “He can’t shop on his own, and his caretaker can’t spend her life going to specialty pharmacies and medical supply stores. So Amazon Prime has been his lifeline.”