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How Amazon destroys millions of new items it can’t sell

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Jan 12, 2014
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How Amazon destroys millions of new items it can’t sell

Reporters posing as Amazon workers discovered an area called the ‘destruction zone’ where they covertly filmed staff loading pristine toys, unused kitchen equipment and flat-screen TVs into skips to be transported to dumps

In one case, a businessman who featured in the programme said Amazon charged his company £17 an item to return goods but just 13p to destroy them. Suppliers say that when their products do not sell they are left with no choice but to pay Amazon to destroy them because they cannot afford to have them returned or continue to be stored.


https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... -sell.html
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Jan 9, 2011
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Amazon of course could give the stuff away instead of landfilling it. I'm sure schools and retirement homes could make good use of a lot of it. But of course, Amazon isn't in the charity business. Anyone read Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath? Farmers couldn't sell their produce for a profit, so they piled it up and let it rot, and poured poison over it so that hungry Okies wouldn't come and take it.
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Jan 27, 2006
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This is precisely why I don't understand how so many people have so much 'love' and 'trust' in Amazon. They are a business and nothing more.
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Years ago I spoke to a couple of people (at separate times) that knew of places where to get the stuff that Walmart threw away. If you returned something and the package was opened they would through it away. It was in more northern locations like Barrie and Parry Sound.
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Jun 30, 2006
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Not sure why they wouldn't sell as open box item. Doesn't really make sense.
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Aug 2, 2001
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I think a lot of people are confused when reading this - the issue is that Amazon, as a marketplace, offers storage of goods to people. When these goods do not sell they ask the owner of the goods what to do - ship it back or destroy it (well or pay increasingly more for storage but that doesn't make sense for most). Naturally the cost to ship it back is higher - it's more work to coordinate and ship something to a specific person than destroy it.

This is not Amazon's fault in the slightest, they do not own these items and cannot dictate how they are sold/disposed of.
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Feb 4, 2010
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TrevorK wrote: I think a lot of people are confused when reading this - the issue is that Amazon, as a marketplace, offers storage of goods to people. When these goods do not sell they ask the owner of the goods what to do - ship it back or destroy it (well or pay increasingly more for storage but that doesn't make sense for most). Naturally the cost to ship it back is higher - it's more work to coordinate and ship something to a specific person than destroy it.

This is not Amazon's fault in the slightest, they do not own these items and cannot dictate how they are sold/disposed of.
I get it but it doesn't make it any less disgusting and maddening that we has a society operate in this manner. It's no better than grocery stores charging high prices for subpar produce and when it doesn't sell, they toss it despite the many who go hungry or are homeless. It infuriates me when profits dictate how we operate as human beings...no empathy or compassion for those who have very little, companies rather redirect merchandise to overflowing landfills.

I also totally disagree that it's not "Amazon's fault in the slightest"....they helped create this situation! Not sure how you can even say that.
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hierophant wrote: I get it but it doesn't make it any less disgusting and maddening that we has a society operate in this manner. It's no better than grocery stores charging high prices for subpar produce and when it doesn't sell, they toss it despite the many who go hungry or are homeless. It infuriates me when profits dictate how we operate as human beings...no empathy or compassion for those who have very little, companies rather redirect merchandise to overflowing landfills.

I also totally disagree that it's not "Amazon's fault in the slightest"....they helped create this situation! Not sure how you can even say that.
In your example it's the grocery store that owns the produce, so of course they play a part in throwing it out. It's their decision.

Amazon does not own the product - there is an owner for the product who, as it turns out, has decided to ship an excess quantity to Amazon. The owner of the product has to deal with this. Amazon merely provides the options, and naturally charges more for an option that costs them more money.


Does it suck that we waste all these items? Absolutely. Walk into a Costco and get a feel for waste on a large scale from those "borrowers" that do not want to buy an item but merely borrow it for a bit.

But let's place the blame where it belongs. In this case it's not Amazon. It's those sellers who own the items and commission Amazon to sell on their behalf while they still retain all ownership / control of the item and merely store it at Amazon until it is sold.
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carmaster wrote: Not sure why they wouldn't sell as open box item. Doesn't really make sense.
This is Amazon FBA, where Amazon charges the sellers for storage space of their items in their warehouse.
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Didn't read article fully. Not sure if it's going to the dump or is it going to those 'auction' sales. I would think they would rather it go there and make money rather than lose money and pay to get it disposed of. Even if it's garbage. Someone else will pay the disposal fees if they win the bid. No lose situation (just lower profits than selling it outright).

Edit: However this is Europe, so laws or process might be different there...
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Hi there,

You think Amazon is the only company that does it? Every retailer does it. Sometimes, it's cheaper to actually destroy it then returning it to the vendor/supplier. Some goods they don't want to mark it down or give it away, as it make the brand cheap or worthless to buy. Ask anyone who works in retail.

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The actual owners/sellers of the product chose to have their products destroyed because it was cheaper than storing it or having it shipped back to them. Amazon has a LOT of issues, but this one is solely on the people who actually chose to destroy them (like the supplier who blames Amazon and claims they have "no choice", of course they have a choice, it's just expensive to do so. But they pass the blame to Amazon? Is Amazon supposed to subsidize them?)
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TrevorK wrote: This is not Amazon's fault in the slightest, they do not own these items and cannot dictate how they are sold/disposed of.
Come on... not Amazon's fault in the slightest? Stop drinking the Amazon Koolaid.

Sure Amazon can't dictate how they are sold/disposed of but they can give the vendor options.... After all, Amazon created the environment for this to happen. They could have easily said instead of disposing of the product by dumping it, they could have just as easily said that they will donate it to the local 'name a good charity' thrift store OR they could have set up a process where the product can be sold cheaply on the Amazon site with the proceeds going to charity.
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craftsman wrote: Come on... not Amazon's fault in the slightest? Stop drinking the Amazon Koolaid.

Sure Amazon can't dictate how they are sold/disposed of but they can give the vendor options.... After all, Amazon created the environment for this to happen. They could have easily said instead of disposing of the product by dumping it, they could have just as easily said that they will donate it to the local 'name a good charity' thrift store OR they could have set up a process where the product can be sold cheaply on the Amazon site with the proceeds going to charity.
I was just going to say exactly this - why are the options, take it back or trash it - why not donate? and if the store says trash it, why can't Amazon take the trash and donate it? I guess there could be legal issues? but definitely giving options to donate should be Amazon's responsibility.
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Imagine if you are a worker that works in the destruction of the products. SO MANY FREE STUFF to take home and mark it "destroyed" in the paperwork.
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TrevorK wrote: In your example it's the grocery store that owns the produce, so of course they play a part in throwing it out. It's their decision.

Amazon does not own the product - there is an owner for the product who, as it turns out, has decided to ship an excess quantity to Amazon. The owner of the product has to deal with this. Amazon merely provides the options, and naturally charges more for an option that costs them more money.


Does it suck that we waste all these items? Absolutely. Walk into a Costco and get a feel for waste on a large scale from those "borrowers" that do not want to buy an item but merely borrow it for a bit.

But let's place the blame where it belongs. In this case it's not Amazon. It's those sellers who own the items and commission Amazon to sell on their behalf while they still retain all ownership / control of the item and merely store it at Amazon until it is sold.
Blame everyone. From the seller to Amazon to the customer. Blame the seller for ordering too much to meet demand. Blame Amazon for charging too much to return excess stock. Blame the customer for returning.
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Messerschmitt wrote: Imagine if you are a worker that works in the destruction of the products. SO MANY FREE STUFF to take home and mark it "destroyed" in the paperwork.
You would think lol

Amazon warehouses are like airports/prisons: you have security processes all over to make sure you don’t get away with anything.
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craftsman wrote: Come on... not Amazon's fault in the slightest? Stop drinking the Amazon Koolaid.

Sure Amazon can't dictate how they are sold/disposed of but they can give the vendor options.... After all, Amazon created the environment for this to happen. They could have easily said instead of disposing of the product by dumping it, they could have just as easily said that they will donate it to the local 'name a good charity' thrift store OR they could have set up a process where the product can be sold cheaply on the Amazon site with the proceeds going to charity.
It is not Amazon's product.
If the manufacturer (owner) wishes to be charitable, drop the price (to close to zero even).
Zheng is being hypocritical suggesting Amazon donate them. Why don't they (the owner) donate them?
Note the use of the word "advise". The final choice is theirs.

From the article:
In the programme, Zhongwang Zheng, the boss of a Chinese stationery company, told how Amazon in France had destroyed hundreds of his unsold goods and added that he had products in Amazon’s UK warehouses that would also be destroyed. Mr Zheng told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Amazon UK sells our products. The UK is our main storage centre but Amazon has destroyed our products there.

‘After around six months or a year, if the goods are not sold Amazon will start charging storage fees. But the charges are very high so Amazon either throws the goods away or ships them back to China.

But the cost of having products shipped back is too high for a factory like ours. Amazon will sometimes advise us to change the price, but sometimes they will advise us to destroy products. My personal view is that if products don’t sell, Amazon should donate them to charity rather than throw them away.’
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Majinvegeta wrote: I was just going to say exactly this - why are the options, take it back or trash it - why not donate? and if the store says trash it, why can't Amazon take the trash and donate it? I guess there could be legal issues? but definitely giving options to donate should be Amazon's responsibility.
Because donating costs more money since then it would have to be shipped and the owner doesn't want that. Especially if the product is something that can't really be donated and they will turn around and try to sell it undercutting the person who was originally trying to sell it.
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TrevorK wrote: In your example it's the grocery store that owns the produce, so of course they play a part in throwing it out. It's their decision.

Amazon does not own the product - there is an owner for the product who, as it turns out, has decided to ship an excess quantity to Amazon. The owner of the product has to deal with this. Amazon merely provides the options, and naturally charges more for an option that costs them more money.


Does it suck that we waste all these items? Absolutely. Walk into a Costco and get a feel for waste on a large scale from those "borrowers" that do not want to buy an item but merely borrow it for a bit.

But let's place the blame where it belongs. In this case it's not Amazon. It's those sellers who own the items and commission Amazon to sell on their behalf while they still retain all ownership / control of the item and merely store it at Amazon until it is sold.
I understood perfectly when you said this the first time but I think you may have not misunderstood my point. Yes, legally Amazon may not have own the products but they are still partly responsible for the positive and negative impacts created by their service. They have HUGE influence and power that can put a stop to this. For example, they can create business rules that stipulate they will not take on customers who are not social and environmentally responsible - they helped create this situation by allowing/enabling it. So for you to say that it's not "Amazon's fault in the slightest" - is not only inaccurate, it's irresponsible on your part. It's this type of mentality that has helped create the environmental and social conundrums were' in. "Oh it's technically not in my wheelhouse so I'm going to keep a blind eye and pretend nothing is going as long as I"m not affected". Would you say the same thing if you see a child being abused? It's the same thing except instead of the child, it's the environment.

The grocery store was an example of a similar nature - a better example for me to give is produce packaged in plastic. Grocery stores blame the supplier - well they have the buying power to say reduce your packaging by xxx date otherwise we're going with another supplier. It's been done.

The example of Costco is a good one - horrible return policy for the environment but most consumers don't care about that as long as they get their money back...and I get that when these companies are manufacturing crap products and then charging triple the price.

Anyways end of rant.

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