A new beverage named “Release” with eye-catching packaging, a bold font, and a catchy name quickly gained attention, despite a surprising and unpleasant twist. Each bottle purportedly contained urine collected from discarded plastic bottles on the roadside, supposedly from Amazon delivery drivers.
Amazon, however, still listed the product for sale, and “Release” managed to achieve the top spot in the “Bitter Lemon” category as a bestseller. This unusual drink was created as part of a new documentary titled “The Great Amazon Heist,” which made its debut on Channel 4 in the UK.
The brain behind this unique venture is Oobah Butler, a well-known journalist, and presenter with a knack for orchestrating intriguing stunts. He is perhaps most famous for transforming his London garden shed into the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. In “The Great Amazon Heist,” Butler begins by covertly infiltrating an Amazon distribution center in Coventry, equipped with a hidden camera. During his undercover investigation, he engages with employees who express concerns about the grueling working conditions, including foot and back pain, constant surveillance, and the lack of proper cooling mechanisms in sweltering conditions.
Uncovering Challenges Faced by Amazon Delivery Drivers
Amazon spokesperson James Drummond responded to the allegations by emphasizing the company’s commitment to employee safety and well-being. He pointed out that Amazon provides protective clothing and footwear, along with dedicated health and safety teams on-site.
Butler’s investigation coincides with a significant hiring wave at the Coventry warehouse. During this period, workers were actively seeking union recognition, with the GMB union accusing Amazon of intentionally recruiting additional staff to influence the union vote. Amazon, on the other hand, denies these allegations.
As Butler continues his undercover work, he shifts his focus to the plight of Amazon delivery drivers. They reveal that they face penalties for slow deliveries, forcing them to resort to urinating in bottles due to the lack of time for proper bathroom breaks. The shocking revelations shed light on the challenges faced by the individuals who help power Amazon’s vast delivery network.
While reports of drivers urinating in bottles have surfaced in the past, a new revelation suggests that some of these drivers face penalties when returning to the warehouse with urine-filled bottles. Amazon, however, denies this, stating that their drivers receive reminders to take regular breaks through the Amazon Delivery app. To avoid potential penalties, some drivers resort to discarding these bottles along the roadside. This practice has caught the attention of a curious individual, John Butler, who has been scavenging the roadsides near Amazon warehouses spanning from Coventry to New York to Los Angeles. Surprisingly, often, his efforts lead to a rather unconventional find – liquid gold.
Documentary Exposes Amazon’s Vulnerabilities and Ethical Concerns
Butler’s journey takes an even more peculiar turn when he attempts to list this unique discovery, aptly named “Release,” for sale on Amazon. Astonishingly, the process is straightforward, with very few checks and balances in place to verify the safety and legality of the product. Butler shared his experience, stating, “Releasing the drink was surprisingly easy. I thought that the food and drinks licensing would stop me from listing it, so I started it out in this Refillable Pump Dispenser category. Then the algorithm moved it into drinks.”
At one point, an Amazon representative contacted him, offering to handle the packaging, shipping, and logistics through the Fulfillment by Amazon program. It’s important to note that no members of the public were actually sent driver urine; instead, Butler enlisted a group of friends to make the purchases. As the product appears for sale on the platform, Butler’s initial excitement turns into a mixture of amusement and trepidation. He reflects on the situation, saying, “Then, when real people started trying to buy the product, I felt a bit scared.”
The documentary “The Great Amazon Heist” highlights the ease with which Amazon’s systems can be exploited. Journalist Geoff Butler reveals deficiencies in age verification, showing how children ordered adult products without checks. Amazon acknowledges the issue and claims to prioritize age verification.
The documentary also delves into Amazon’s tax practices, which have been scrutinized for minimizing its tax liability. MP Nadia Whittome advocates for Amazon’s contribution to British infrastructure. Butler exploits Amazon’s return policy, potentially evading fraud accusations through a Belize-based shell company.
In an hour-long exposé, the documentary underscores the challenges faced by Amazon workers and the lack of checks on products sold to children. Amazon’s complex structures appear to shield it from local authorities, raising questions about its accountability.
Despite its mission statement, “The Great Amazon Heist” suggests Amazon may not fully live up to its proclaimed ideals.