Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Mar 7 2016 22:56:10

Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

By: Ina Steiner

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First there were stories about Amazon requiring workers to stand in long lines to go through a search and metal-detector scan when leaving for the day to check for stolen goods. 

Now comes a story from Bloomberg about a scare tactic Amazon uses to discourage workers from stealing from its warehouses.

It's enough to give sellers pause at the thought of trusting their inventory to fulfillment houses such as Amazon FBA - but theft is a fact of life in the retail industry.

As we explain in Tuesday's Newsflash, Amazon has reportedly installed flatscreen TVs where workers can see them on their way to clock in each day. The TVs display stories about workers who were caught stealing, including details of what they allegedly stole and how they got caught. It's meant as a deterrent for those who might be tempted to try it themselves.

According to the Bloomberg story, some of the ways workers have allegedly tried to steal items from the Amazon warehouses include changing an outbound package's address and "stuffing merchandise in their socks." (The article didn't say exactly how Amazon detected the sock stuffer.)

Have you ever had inventory go missing from a fulfillment warehouse that you suspected was caused by employee theft? Are you satisfied with how Amazon handles lost inventory?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 8 00:49:21 2016

Everywhere you look , you see theft. Its the world were in . Take polygraph test every 6 months. You pay me proper , I wont steal. You dont pay me proper , I wont work for you.

The world is full of theft. Its todays loses. Has been for hundreds of years.

The videos , are merely verifying , there is a problem.
Give every employee , at random , a polygraph. Make them sign a waiver. Theft can be stopped.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 8 08:11:04 2016

Employees steal from the employers everyday. Nothing new here.

They steal, they get caught, they get fired, they whine about getting fired.

Shows how dishonest the world in general is. They only businesses that are protected against thief are the one man operated ones and then you have to keep a careful eye on the cats that steal the pens all the time.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Tue Mar 8 09:29:47 2016

Our local criminal courts instituted a ''shoplifting school'' as an alternative to stigmatizing teenagers and students with criminal convictions on their records for stealing from retailers. Oddly enough, theft is not primarily motivated by need or greed; it's often motivated by retaliation for emotional abuse and mistreatment of customers by the retailer. It's meant to harm the retailer and when the theft rate is high enough it has succeeded in closing some retail stores. My cure is to simply not shop in stores like that but then too, I'm not a teenager. And there too may be a lesson for Amazon about how it treats its employees.

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 8 10:06:00 2016

Scare tactic? Hardly. Reminding workers that the stuff in the W/H isn't theirs, and that they'll be fired if they think otherwise, is just common sense Loss Prevention. Maybe that guy who said it had 'a whiff of prison' knows what the inside of the slammer smells like!

Any employees of The River who want to steal on the job should go work for the government!

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 8 10:10:37 2016

@Gizmo

Exactly what is 'proper' pay? Isn't a couple of bucks over 'minimum wage' plus health insurance and/or other bennies, adequate for someone who just runs parcels past a scanner for an 8 hour shift? Or works the aisles with a cart and a preprinted 'pick sheet?'

If a person is a crook, he'll ALWAYS have the mentality that his employer is 'abusing' or 'mistreating' him. You can't pay these people 'enough' in their twisted minds.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Mar 8 11:47:18 2016

@FeelingFroggy - Theft by cats is one reason I won't have a cat in my house (I'm also allergic to them).

I would never trust any fulfillment service, not only because of theft but I'd always be worried that they didn't ship the correct item or didn't pack the item as carefully as they should. I understand that FBA works for a lot of people, but I'm too paranoid and would spend too many sleepless nights wondering what was happening to my merchandise.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Mar 8 12:16:33 2016

I just don't understand why people would go to the bother of starting "their own" business, only to open the flood gates to 3rd party SHYSTERS.
There is absolutely NO NEED for it.
If it's a case of your being to lazy to oversee all facets of the business, then DON'T OPEN A BUSINESS.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Tue Mar 8 16:11:16 2016

Again, most thieves aren't stealing to acquire merchandise or to justify their pay scale; they're motivated by some deeper emotional need like sabotage, revenge, or retaliation. Of course it's not rational - it's emotional.  

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 00:35:55 2016

I too don't understand why people start their own business only to turn it over to others and pay them to do the scut work. I've bought plenty of things from Amazon and only once from FBA which turned out okay, but directly from Amazon, I have had some weird deliveries. The most bizarre was when I bought a ruler to use in quilting and cutting with a rotary cutter. So my package arrives and instead of one ruler I got three all sealed in plastic wrap, but each individually labeled for resale. So I write to Amazon so I could get a return slip, explained that they had given me two extra items. I send the stuff back and they credit me for the ruler I bought! I gave up at that point. I have finally learned when trying to be honest with a company if a company refuses to understand where they goofed, after a point I give up as the next step would be banging my head against a wall. If Amazon with their own products are messing up, what are they doing with a 3P sellers products? If those rulers had been owned by a 3P seller, and they showed up at a home of a dishonest buyer they would have been out product, if the buyer was honest and sent them back and then was refunded for the item they kept and had actually bought then the FBA seller is also out money. Multiply this by how many possible this scenario could repeat itself. I prefer to be in charge of my own product inventory.

I have no problem with someone being reminded that they could go to jail for theft. What should they be reminded of on a an anti-theft broadcast? People have gotten too namby-pamby if they think it is poor judgement to remind people that jail is where thieves go. If jail isn't where they would be sent, where would they go, Disneyland? I get so tired of so many that think people aren't responsible for their actions and if a company somehow is being mean to them then stealing is the proper reaction, they need to rethink real life.

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 01:24:21 2016

Whew! I just read this thread in its entirety. Seems like a lot of people making assumptions about others, as a collective, without taking into consideration all the factors that impact those lives on an individual basis.

I'm with Shop and Ship. I am not condoning theft. But, the flat-screen TVs are over the top. Surely, Amazon has security cameras, and the employees know it. The only thing those TVs display is disrespect for Amazon employees.

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by: Deltamaster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 03:16:29 2016

You people really do not get it.  Amazon has been doing this in one form or another at least since 2010 when I first worked at one of their warehouses... and likely earlier.

It is not embarrassing or harassing or demeaning in any way.  The information posted is merely factual and is only one facet of a much larger loss prevention program which does include security cameras as well as many other things for which I am unable (under contract) to disclose.  

Most employees find the information interesting or even somewhat comical as they joke about how some dimwit really thought they could get away with shoving a camera lens in their underwear.

All the fervor about this practice is merely media hype apparently intended to paint a poor impression of Amazon employee relations.  Trust me, Amazon does a much better job at treating their associates well than do most retailers.

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by: MADandCracked This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 03:51:28 2016

Deltamaster is absolutely correct! We tend to laugh at those ignorant enough to even risk their jobs over a candy bar or SD card. Also, it's not like the screen is right in your face. It's mounted on the wall as you're walking through security and most of the workers don't even pay attention to it. As far as pay is concerned, (at my location) a new employee makes $4 an hour more than minimum wage. Add on paid time off, vacation pay, unpaid time off, excellent insurance at very little cost to the employee and stocks every year after you've been there for two years and you'll find that you make a pretty decent wage especially to those that don't even have a high school diploma.

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by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 09:12:52 2016

"The only thing those TVs display is disrespect for Amazon employees."

I'm sorry but the employee that is stealing is the one that is "disrespectful".  All mental and emotional issues aside many people steal because they feel some sense of "entitlement".  The welfare system is filled with them....

I owned a brick and mortar for 20+ years.  The employees were paid well, treated well, had health insurance, vacation and sick time.....bonuses at Christmas and annual raises.  In those 20 years the single, largest problem I had was employee theft.  The mentality of "she won't miss it, she owns this company and has a lot of money".  It was the biggest reason I sold and moved on to online....the only one touching my "stuff" is ME.

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

by: topdog This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 09:13:54 2016

Moonwishes, it's not about getting a 3rd party to do "the scut work". It's about the dramatically increased visibility items get when sold through FBA. I've sent them items which we've had listed (and unsold) for over a year, just to see them sell within a short time with FBA (and at the same price). The lack of "scut work" isn't the issue - though I will say that it's helpful, as today I can do the same amount of business by myself, whereas before I had to have several employees to help with the load. But at the end of the day, it's all about the visibility. Amazon stacks the deck so heavily in favor of FBA that seller-fulfilled can't compete very well.  

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by: topdog This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 09:17:09 2016

We've seen a staggering amount of goods "lost" at Amazon warehouses. Whether these were actually lost or stolen, I can't say (a bit of both, I imagine). Still, it is over 1%, which is a VERY significant problem. When you add in all the "warehouse damaged" items which we are reimbursed for, I truly don't know how they stay in business. We average nearly 10% of our FBA revenue from either lost or warehouse damaged reimbursements. Crazy.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Mar 9 10:38:02 2016

Too bad they don't play those flatscreen tv stories in the C-level management lounge and on Wall Street. I mean there is theft and then there is THEFT.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Wed Mar 9 12:26:52 2016

So if theft is not about pay or need then why do employees steal? You're back at what our study of criminal prosecutions revealed: to satisfy emotional needs that may be totally unrelated to the workplace a/k/a ''acting out''. Why would anyone stuff a camera lens into their underwear? Does their iPhone have a lens attachment for those intriguing close-ups? Nah! It's a step toward negative attention. Stealing from an employer may be viewed as ''the working man's prerogative'' but it's really nothing more than resentment or ill-will toward the employer. Why don't they just find another job that they do like? Who knows - maybe they did? Reality is that all employees are not happy campers as might just as well be said of retail customers and the general population. The world is full of malcontents, ie, misery loves company.  

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 9 15:32:25 2016

Im sorry , most thieves are motivated by greed. The extra, where their spend happy needs, exceed their income. Amazon may be easy pickins for some of these .The take all you can get attitude , plaguing our country.

I dont work for min. or $2 over. I reach higher , & can make as much as $36 hr. I still run short from time to time. Does not make me want to steal. Stealing is a choice of needs , from greedy losers.

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by: Dhp3 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 10 14:06:18 2016

Audio-video surveillance to minimize shrinkage is not new. Having such in the workplace is not a scare tactic but an accepted practice these days.  

Perminate Link for Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers   Sock-Stuffing Amazon Warehouse Workers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Mar 10 15:20:18 2016

@Shop and Ship - Then what is your rationale for looting during riots? Isn't looting basically shoplifting by more people at one time?

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