Adam Littler, 23, told of the ‘unbelievable’ pressure of working for the retailer
Amazon staff have previously claimed they are tracked around huge warehouses via GPS – but the firm denies this
Previous workers have told how even their toilet breaks were timed
Employment experts have given warnings over workers’ conditions
Internet giant Amazon works its warehouse staff ‘to the bone’ in long and relentless shifts, a former employee claimed yesterday.
Graduate Adam Littler, 23, said he walked up to 11 miles as he worked 10-and-a-half hour night shifts inside the online retailer’s giant distribution centre in Swansea.
He was expected to collect a customer order every 33 seconds and told BBC1’s Panorama he was subjected to ‘unbelievable’ pressure to meet efficiency targets.
Cardboard city: This Amazon distribution centre in Swansea covers 800,000 square feet. The complex is approaching its busiest time of the year
Risks: Experts have warned that conditions inside the warehouses could increases rates of mental and physical illness among workers
Amazon staff have previously revealed how they have been tracked by GPS tags inside the company’s eight UK warehouses and even had toilet breaks timed – claims the firm has denied.
One employee at the warehouse – otherwise known as a ‘fulfilment centre’ – in Rugeley, Staffordshire, likened conditions to a ‘slave camp’.
The American company, which employed 15,000 in its UK warehouses in the run-up to last Christmas, is currently approaching its busiest period of the year.
Amazon has denied exploiting staff and said its productivity targets were set according to performance levels achieved by its work force.
But experts, including Professor Michael Marmot, of University College London, have questioned if conditions inside the firm’s giant warehouses could increase workers’ risk of mental or physical illness.
Targets: Adam Littler, a 23-year-old graduate, told BBC1’s Panorama how he worked 10-and-a-half hour night shifts and was given an order every 33 seconds
Mr Littler wore a pedometer after he was given a job as a ‘picker’, pushing trolleys around and collecting customers’ orders from the shelves, at Amazon’s 800,000sq ft distribution centre in Swansea.
Pickers are given handheld scanners which calculate the most efficient route to collect items, and tell them if they are hitting their targets.
The documentary, due to be screened tonight, shows him racing to beat the scanner’s digital countdown to collect each item.
‘You all literally work to the bone and there doesn’t seem to be any reward or any let-up,’ he said.
‘I’ve never done a job like this before. The pressure’s unbelievable.’ Mr Littler was recruited via an agency for seven weeks’ work. He spent four weeks on the day shift, earning £6.50 an hour, before moving to night shifts on £8.25 an hour.
He claimed he worked four nights a week for 10-and-a-half hours, including a paid half-hour break and two 15-minute unpaid breaks.
Employment barrister Giles Bedloe said night shifts involving heavy physical work should be limited to eight hours in any 24-hour period.
Mr Littler’s scanner set him a target of collecting 110 items per hour, but he said he rarely hit the target. After working one night shift, he said: ‘I managed to walk or hobble nearly 11 miles. I’m absolutely shattered.’
Former workers have claimed the firm imposed a ‘three strikes and release’ discipline system to sack workers who did not meet targets.
Amazon has also come under pressure for its use of controversial ‘zero-hours’ contracts and for its tax avoidance practices.
Figures supplied to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee showed its UK sales were £7.1billion between 2009 to 2011. But its UK company, Amazon.co.uk Ltd, paid only £2.3million in corporation tax as the majority of its sales were handled through its European subsidiary in low-tax Luxembourg.
‘Unbelievable’ pressure: Mr Littler was employed via an agency, and was paid £6.50 an hour to work during the day and £8.25 an hour to work at night
‘Fulfilment centre': Mr Little worked at this huge complex in Swansea, inside which staff are tracked by GPS devices
Although tax avoidance is legal, Amazon’s rivals have complained it has an unfair advantage as it can offer cheaper prices.
Amazon said an independent expert had advised them that its pickers experienced similar conditions to workers in other industries and did not face an increased risk of mental or physical illness, and that its safety and illness records were better than industry competitors.
Recruits are warned the job is physically demanding, it said, and all shift patterns meet legal requirements.
A spokesman said: ‘The safety of our associates is our number one priority and we adhere to all regulations and employment law. Independent legal and health and safety experts review our processes as a further method of ensuring compliance.’
Are you considering an entry level career in retail? Find out what you’re getting into before you apply!
In today’s economy, if you don’t have a skill of some sort, you can’t really afford to be too picky. But do you really want to be stuck in a job you absolutely can’t stand? There are always perks and drawbacks to any job. Here you can learn about what to expect when working in your average retail environment! Not all of these points will apply to every retail job. Retailers can be quite different from each other. For example, if you prefer a calm, casual work environment, you would probably be better off working at a small store that is owned by a smaller company instead of a large corporation with stores all over the country. If you prefer a fast paced, busy and possibly more competitive work environment, you would do well as an employee of a large corporate retailer.
One of the best benefits of working in retail is of course, the discount! This can range from 10% to 50% but in my experience usually falls around 20%-40%. That can really add up! Considering you probably won’t be making very much money this can really help out depending on what your employer has for products.
A discount isn’t the only way a retail employee can save some money. When you work in retail you will usually be the one marking down merchandise on a regular basis. Therefore you will be the first to see the best clearance prices and you will know where to find them. Most retailers usually have plenty of fliers around with coupons as well. Or they may just apply the current coupon to every employee’s sale.
This is the perfect job for the style conscious person. This job allows you to keep up with all the latest trends without having to check the magazines.
If you need a job with flexible scheduling this is a great way to go! If you work for one of the larger retail stores you will have many co-workers who are usually more than willing to take your shifts or switch shifts with you so you don’t have to plan around your job. As long as you give enough notice, most retail employers will have no problem giving you certain days off as long as the day you are requesting is not a busy holiday or you can find someone to cover for you. Shifts are often only 3-6 hours long so you may find that even on days you work you will still have almost the whole day to do whatever you please. This is very convenient for anyone who is attending college and looking for a part- time job. Just let them know when you have class and they will only give you shifts that do not conflict with that schedule.
There are plenty of jobs available! If you have been looking online for a job you have no doubt come across quite a few empty retail positions, although there are certainly not as many as there used to be. Many companies have eliminated several full time positions in favor of a part time position that will cost them less per hour as well as requiring fewer benefits. If this is what you are looking for you are in luck! There are also many full time positions but they will definitely be harder to find.
You don’t need any special skills to work in retail. This does not mean retail workers lack intelligence or ambition in spite of how they are treated from time to time. It simply means it is a great job for teens or young adults attending college who need time to learn skills they can take into other careers. It is also a nice position for older people who have retired but still need a source of income. Or as a second job for anyone who does have skills but may not be making what they need in their career field. No college is required.
If you like talking to people and consider yourself a friendly person, you will find success in a retail career. You will meet all kinds of people and quite often you will meet a customer who just wants to talk to someone while they shop. Patience is required. You will encounter those who are unhappy with their shopping experience but if you can smile and treat them well they may say something to your supervisor resulting in recognition or a promotion for you!
If you enjoy looking your best there are many retail positions that will require you to dress up. This doesn’t always mean dresses and suits but a nice pair of dress pants and a professional looking top will do the trick. You almost never have to get dirty (unless you’re talking about dust) so you can show up wearing your best clothing every day and you won’t be out of place!
You are getting great customer service experience! Customer service in some form is a part of almost every job out there. If you find yourself working as a salesperson making commission this is even better! The ability to sell products is a great skill to have for many professions.
The most common complaint about retail jobs is the lack of hours available. With retailers trying to cut costs, you will probably only get 12-20 hours a week. If you are lucky you may find part time positions for 20-30 hours a week but this is less common at least in my experience. There is something you can do about this however. Always talk to your employer and let them know you are more than willing to pick up extra hours and ask them to give you a call whenever someone calls off no matter how short the notice may be. Also talk to your co-workers and let them know if they have any shifts they can’t work that they can come to you for guaranteed coverage. If you do this and if you consistently accept extra hours when they are offered you may find yourself scheduled for more hours anyway!
I’m going to be honest with you. Unless you are working full time, you probably will not be making much above minimum wage. Even if you have experience you may only get $8 to $9 dollars an hour as a sales associate/ cashier.
There is a large amount of competition for each job opening. As I said before, this position does not require any real skills. Therefore, many people qualify for the job. You will have to have an outstanding interview in some cases to land the job. Always make sure to maintain eye contact and smile! Retailers are looking for friendly, enthusiastic sales oriented employee’s.
Your schedule will probably be all over the place. Most retailers I am familiar with will open around 8 or 9 and close around 9 or 10. They will also require people to help put away products that come in on trucks every week. This may mean that you will be asked to come to work at the crack of dawn or you may have to work some very late nights depending on when they receive their shipments. This is a good question to ask at the interview. You will almost never have a set schedule in an entry level retail job. You may work a closing shift one night and have to get up for the early shift the next day! While this can be a pain, hours are hours and the more you show you are willing to work any schedule the more your managers will use you.
Working in retail may make you buy things you really don’t need. You may laugh, but I have seen this become a real problem for some people. When you find yourself marking down a beautiful purse or an expensive shirt you may think to yourself what a great deal you are holding in your hands. You may start to think well… it used to be $60 and now it’s only $10 I can afford that. You start to think about how great you would look with that product and how people will think you must be doing well to afford such nice things. Where it really starts to get you is when you don’t know when to say no to a good deal. There will always be great deals somewhere in the store. But if you buy every single one you won’t be saving money anymore! What do you really need with 20 purses or 50 pairs of shoes?
The biggest drawback to working in a retail job is how you are treated by many customers. Many people seem to be of the opinion that because you are in a customer service position, that means they can treat you however they please. You can be the sweetest, friendliest, most helpful person working there and some people will just walk all over you. The problem is, many customers know that if they throw a fit, they can usually get whatever they want. They also seem to think that if you are only a cashier you must be lazy or unintelligent. So they will question everything. They will argue with you that $X is NOT 30% off of $X even when it clearly is. This is when you get out your handy calculator and calmly and sweetly show them they are being a complete fool. They will insist that although they don’t have any coupons with them, you must give them any current coupons regardless of whether or not you are allowed to do so. They will try to tell you the item in question was on a clearance rack even though it is clearly supposed to be on a full price rack right next to it. Some customers will merely be annoyed and decide not to buy the items while others will scream at you and ask for your manager. Some might even throw the items at you. If you are unable to handle conflicts with others this is not the job for you.
This drawback is very similar to the last one. You may not be treated the best by your managers. Being a retail manager can be stressful and they will sometimes take it out on you. Remember the scenario I described where a customer is irate and asks for your manager? Well don’t expect your manager to take your side. They will inevitably come up and give the customer exactly what they wanted all while apologizing to them and telling them anything they want to hear. They can be power hungry and will not always treat you with respect because you are the lowly cashier. This can be the case in many types of jobs however. It really depends on the individual store and you might get lucky and have a great relationship with all your supervisors.
You will most likely be required to try to sell a card of some sort. Whether this is a credit card or simply a club card, not everyone will want to sign up or even let you finish your sentence. Customers are often in a hurry and don’t want to listen to a sales pitch about some card when they have a wallet full of cards for every store. You will have to deal with rejection on a regular basis but you can’t stop trying. In many stores there is a goal for the number of card accounts an employee must get in a month. If you do not meet this goal you may be written up or terminated.
You will likely have to stand for hours at a time doing very repetitive work. This may be a plus for some who just want a simple job that doesn’t require much thinking or challenge but many complain of this. Often you will not be able to wear sneakers or casual shoes so you may have quite a bit of discomfort if you aren’t used to dress shoes.
Sometimes you will have to clean up after inconsiderate customers. This can wear on the nerves of some. Seeing people throwing clothing where it doesn’t belong or tossing garbage on a display you just cleaned can be quite frustrating and you absolutely can not say a thing about it. Those who work in shoe stores can tell you stories about customers leaving shoe boxes and tops strewn across the aisles with all the stuffing spread out on the floor as well. If this makes you so angry you have to say something, you may want to look elsewhere for a career.
If you acquire a job where you are working on commission you will have to compete with your co-workers for each sale. This can lead to conflicts over who should get the sale in question and you may find your co-workers resenting you if you happen to be getting the majority of sales.
Most stores have a very unsatisfying way of dealing with stealing by customers. Even if you are positive a customer has taken something you may not be able to do a thing about it. Some stores require a manager to see the theft taking place before anything can be said. So as a cashier even if you saw it happen you are powerless.
As I stated earlier, many retailers are trying to do more with less. This means you will probably not have as many employees working at one time as you would like. You may often be the only one in your department regardless of how much work there is to be done. You will be required to watch the register as well as any other tasks such as putting away products and marking down items. Sometimes you may be stuck on the register for hours at a time.
1. I worked at one for about a year and a half, but mine closed at 3am due to county regulations.
Since the store closes at 3, drunk couples have the intense desire to purchase sex toys right when the bars close, and on certain nights the store gets popular during the last hour. We also had booths and a theater, which were both very popular for the more promiscuous patrons; usually closeted middle aged men.
For some reason, this was the most popular night I had ever had. Attempting to close up the store, clean it, and do an inventory was an absolute nightmare with everyone inside. Usually we would have 1-2 people… this time I was working alone with at least 30 people in the store; I blame a chemical spill in the water supply.
My supervisor walked in to do the final check and could not believe the amount of customers, and he ended up running the register while I fervently attempted to catch up. We were usually out by 3:15, and we were barely finishing up the inventory at 3:45.
The patrons were gone, and it was time to leave, at about 4am, when one more drunken idiot came in the store. This man was in his late 60s, hispanic, and very frail looking. He had a mustache and reminded me of a Mexican Waluigi!
While counting the money in the register, I hear my supervisor say:
“We’re closed. Sorry”
5 seconds later:
“Estamos cerrados.” (We are closed in Spanish)
5 seconds later:
“What… the fuck”
Diego Waluigi had dropped his pants and revealed the biggest penis I have ever seen on a human. This thing was stolen from a horse. It was a third leg. It probably committed a war crime at some point by simply existing. If it was not fully erect, it probably would have dropped close to his kneecaps. He was staring at my supervisor, dead in the eye, and stroking his penis slowly, caressing it like a sorceress would an unruly dragon. I will never forget his mustache, and his twitching eye. The entire situation was so fucking alien I cannot forget any details.
My supervisor screamed for him to get out, and after a few more hate strokes, he waddled back out of the store, his pants still around his ankles. My supervisor and I looked at each-other, realizing we just saw Satan’s unicorn.
As we left the store and headed to our vehicles, I feared something that I never thought possible; being beaten to death by a giant penis.
3. On a regular night I’d have like maybe a dozen customers at most. Often times the hardest part of the job was staying awake.
One night this guy comes in and is browsing around. He’s wearing sweatpants, a jean jacket, a t-shirt and a trucker hat. He eventually wanders over to the magazines and proceeds to peruse every magazine on the rack. He’s there for about two or three hours. Finally he leaves and gives me a nod on the way out. I look out the window and see him in the parking lot facing traffic (the store was on a main stretch so there was still sporadic traffic even in the middle of the night).
This dude’s got his pants around his ankles, one hand on his hat to keep the wind from blowing it off, one hand feverishly jerking off to oncoming traffic and I assume all the new deposits to the spank bank he just made.
Here’s another one.
This dude bought a stack of magazines, rented a bunch of DVDs, lube, a blow up doll and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. I’m ringing his stuff through, get to the handcuffs and say “You know, once you blow her up she’s not going anywhere”, the guys face turned bright red. I felt bad. I don’t care what people do I was just joking around.
One time I smashed a robber in the face with a fairly meaty two sided dildo.
Got hit on by all sorts of people.
Got to run into people I knew who didn’t know I worked there a lot. “It’s a joke gift” “It’s for a bachelor party”, heard those a few times. Priceless.
Ultimately quit because I figured being in that environment and never seeing the sun was making me weird.
I was starting to feel like a Chuck Palahniuk character.
4. I worked the graveyard shift of a porn store, and overnights are usually the slow time. Evenings are usually when all the spicy stuff is going down, and all the worst things happen around 11 pm on a Friday, when the drunken pervert crowd mingles with the drunken bachelorette party crowd.
I guess the worst thing was the time a guy tripped and fell, cutting his head and face on a magazine rack, but still wanted to shop. He got blood on everything in the damn store before I could insist that he either go get medical attention or I was calling an ambulance.
5. My shift started at 2am and I got out at 10am. The store was located in a semi-shitty part of town. Anyway, one morning, it’s 8am I’m tired and just trying to make it to the end of my shift so I can get home and sleep. The door swings open, and in walks what was clearly, a transvestite.
She looked like she had applied her lipstick in the “Blackhole Sun” video. She was wearing an awful wig and a tube top just low enough for me to see that her chest hair was growing back. Not sure what to say, I let her speak first.
“Hey…working?” She said. I nodded on agreement. “Ever get horny while at work?” She continued. “I’m really horny…”. “That’s nice.” I replied. She leaned on the counter attempting to be sexy, “I could really suck a cock right now, if you want, it could be yours…”. So there I was dear reader thinking to myself “You know, I never thought I’d turn this down but NOPE!” “Yeah, no thank you.” I replied. “You sure?” She “purred” “I really want to suck a cock! Please!”
I glanced over at the security camera and saw a man walking near the store outside. I turned back to her and said “No thanks, again. But maybe that guy does!” I pointed with excitement. She didn’t go for it. She pleaded for several more minutes before finally giving up and left. Weird.
6. An older couple came through with a shopping full of KY Jelly and a pack of hot dogs. They seriously cleaned out our stock of KY, there had to of been 45, 50 tubes of it. They said they had their RV parked in the lot on their way north through Colorado.
They tossed in a pack of bubblegum, and then my shift at WalMart ended and I went home to study for a geography quiz the next day.
7. My ex worked at an adult video rental store. Often times I would come to the store and hang out with him, because 90% of the time the store was empty. This is not surprising, considering that porn is freely available on the internet, and they did not offer dvds/vhs for purchase, only for rental. Anyway, we mostly just hung out and played old ps2 games on a tiny tv to pass the time.
Occasionally, you would get weirdos in there. Ok, most of the time. Since it was rental porn. You know, it takes a special breed to rent porn. It’s more of a “need” to rent than a “want” to rent. See what I’m getting at here?
Anyway, one day this big fat trucker (had a lot of truckers as customers) comes in complaining he wants his money back. My ex approaches and asks him why he wants his money back. Meanwhile I’m averting my eyes as I’m not really interested in having conversations while in a porn rental store. 90% of customer interactions are 10 words or less. I’m just playing video games.
The thing about rentals is that you don’t really get a guarantee or with it, unless the thing is downright damaged from the get-go. So my ex is asking him “was there something wrong with it? Did it not play correctly?” This guy says it worked just fine. It just wasn’t up to his particular boner-inducing-standards. My ex asks him specifically what was wrong with the DVD.
Trucker says “the chicks didn’t have enough dicks.” I don’t know how one comes to this conclusion, or whether or not this particular porn indeed had enough dicks or not. But whatever amount of dick was on these chicks was not enough for this man. I can’t remember whether or not he got his money back.
8. One time a friend and I went to a local adult store. It was part of a local chain, always clean and not sketchy, as far as adult stores go.
I wanted to pick up a new bowl, and my friend wanted to look at glass dildos. because apparently for women glass dildos are the best thing out there. So I’ve been told.
Anyways, we peruse, I pick a bowl out and the worker gets it out of the case, tells me she’ll have it at the front. I grab my friend and we wait in line. In front of us is this older women, probably around 60 years old. She’ wearing a tan trench coat, looking like she has to meet Humphrey Bogart on a late night rendezvous to stop the Nazis.
She proceeds to the counter, and hands her items to the employee. The employee explains that you can’t return this item, so she has to test it before it leaves the store to make sure it’s working. The old lady replies “I know. Not my first rodeo”. And I’m like hey, good for you old lady. Get you some.
So the employee puts the batteries into this fairly large virbrator. Turns it on and I can hear it humming away on various settings, even though I’m standing 15 ft away. The employee goes to take the batteries out and box the fuck machine up, when the old lady says:
“Oh leave them in. I’ll use it on the way home.”
And at that point I lost my shit. I couldn’t help it. The old lady glared at me and paid for her purchase and left. I was trying so hard to keep it together, and it really wasn’t humorous in any way, but jesus can’t you wait? Don’t you know how dangerous that is? I just couldn’t help it.
9. This was about twenty years ago. We had booths in the back, and a theater attached (basically, just movie seating with a widescreen TV. I would toss in videos from the front to play back there). Here’s the thing, the lunch crowd was always kinkier than the nighttime crowd.
There was the time the two midget prostitutes in the city got in a knife fight in my store. The three cops (two male and one female) who would come in, kick everyone out of the theater and watch a movie with just the three of them for an hour. The time I forgot I had to work, and went in tripping on acid on a day when we got raided. The time a bachelorette party came in, bought a bunch of stuff and then brought me back to their house to “demonstrate” the sex toys. So many good stories.
Since most people have posted funny ones, I’ll leave a gross one. The janitor was gone that day, so I had to deal with fixing broken machines back in the booth area. I knew what went on back there, but I never ventured in. Turns out my instinct was correct. I walked into a booth and discovered something that still makes me a little queasy today.
On the floor, lying next to a pair of panties that were too small for any adult, was a bone. Must have been a foot and a half long. I couldn’t identify what animal it was from. The tip was coated with meat, shit and a great deal of blood. The bone itself had tooth marks on it where it had been gnawed…and those were also coated with shit and blood.
I told myself I would never go back into that booth again.
10. I worked at a 24 hour porn store years ago. My first day, I was introduced to my co workers… a large bat, an enormous mag light, and a hammer. These were in case things got “unruly” during the graveyard shift(which was my shift).
So, on my second night, a ratty looking dude walked in. I’ll call him Ratso Rizzo, because that’s pretty much how he looked(except much, much taller than Dustin Hoffman). He stank of booze. He wandered around the aisles, periodically glancing at me with beady eyes. A group of girls(planning a bachelorette party, I’m guessing) came in. I assisted them, and they eventually left. I kinda forgot about the ratty dude. He walked out shortly after they left.
So now the shop is empty. I go out to have a cigarette. I’m standing out front, when the guy pops out of an alley. He’s breathing heavily. He says, “I saw you checking me out.”
I’m like “Dude, it’s my job to make sure you’re not stealing anything.”
“Wanna go down on me?”
“Fuck no, dude.”
“Can I go down on you?”
“Get the fuck outta here before I call the cops.”
He breathes heavily and looks to the right and left. I began to nope my way towards the door.
I speed walked backwards into the shop. And he left. About an hour later, I put up a sign and left to grab my late night lunch. As I’m heading to the gyros place I planned on eating at, I see a pack of cops. Ratso Rizzo is sitting, looking beat up, in handcuffs. Turns out, he’d started to walk down the street propositioning everyone he ran into for oral sex. Some dude didn’t take it too kindly, and duffed him out.
I gave a statement to the cops, and got named as a victim of his unwarranted advances. And then went back, reopened, and ate my gyro. I told my coworkers my story, and they one-upped me with stories of catching homeless guys buggering in the video booths.
I quickly began looking for another job… I’m pretty desensitized to seediness, but I don’t want my job description to involve chasing narsty perverts.
11. I used to work a 9pm-3am shift at an adult bookstore and while we predominantly sold sex toys, we also sold drug paraphernalia (“this can only be used for tobacco •wink wink”).
Most of my customers coming in for toys were really good people, the solitary men coming in for videos/glory holes were creepy but harmless. The worst were those who came in to buy pipes and whippets (gas for inhalation).
One night around 245 am (I was off in 15), two guys came in to buy a crack pipe and left. At 3, I was to be relieved by the next shift guy who hadn’t arrived yet. At 310, police sirens went off a little too close for comfort. Suddenly, both men burst into the store fighting and knocking shelves over.
Apparently, one guy dropped the crack pipe and blamed the other guy. Needless to say, the police follow in, grab the two men, question me as to what they bought, and leave. My replacement arrives, having been stuck behind the cop cars. That was my last night working there. It can be a fascinating job, but its very taxing.