Oobah Butler has thought of everything: an eye-catching design, a bold font and a punchy name, Release. The British journalist thus managed to insert on the Amazon platform a drink made from the pee of the drivers, who are forced to put it into bottles so as not to be penalized by the company. A provocation from Butler, but also an act of denunciation. Release reached first place on the bestseller list in the “Bitter Lemon” category. In reality the “drink” was created by Butler for his new documentary, The Great Amazon Heist, which aired on Thursday 19 October on Channel 4, a public television channel in the United Kingdom.
Butler is a journalist and presenter best known for turning his London garden shed into the most popular restaurant on Tripadvisor. In the documentary, the journalist speaks to employees who complain of foot and back pain, potentially dangerous working conditions and almost constant surveillance by the company. He then interviews the delivery drivers who take care of deliveries on behalf of Amazon. The drivers say that since the company penalizes them for deliveries that are too slow, they are forced to urinate in the bottles because they don’t have time to find a place to stop. The Amazon spokesperson James Drummond denied what Butler said and stressed that the company’s drivers are reminded to take regular breaks on the Amazon Delivery app.
Very few controls
Butler found it extremely easy to list Release on Amazon, where he encountered very few checks to ensure his product was safe and legal. “Putting the drink on sale was surprisingly easy – he told Wired UK –. I thought the food and drink license would prevent me from listing it, so I started with the Refillable Pump Dispensers category. Then the algorithm moved into drinks”.
The main theme that emerges from the documentary is how easy it is to deceive one of the world’s largest companies. Even though Amazon claims to be “customer-centric, the world’s best employer, and the world’s safest workplace,” the image that emerges from The Great Amazon Heist is of a company that feels all of this it just doesn’t seem to matter.