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Is Amazon the next Walmart ‘boogeyman’ of consumerism?

As Amazon grows further into the lives of everyday consumers, some wonder if its reputation can grow sour at the same time.

“Maybe they have taken over the boogeyman role that Walmart used to have for people suspicious of the ills of capitalism,” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney said.

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That’s the gist of a recent Business Insider column. It argues that Walmart learned a lesson over the past decade — its reputation matters. Being a good corporate citizen is vital to its overall business. And Amazon is primed to learn the same lesson.

Walmart’s lesson for Amazon

Business Insider quotes Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, noting that the company didn’t pay enough attention to its bad press and critics. That left it unprepared when its image was tarnished. Amazon has suffered criticism, too. Its success in Seattle has contributed to an economic boom, which is hailed by some and criticized by others. Rent and housing prices in the region have exploded, pushing out longtime residents. Development has followed and is blamed for tarnishing Seattle’s character. At the same time, a homeless crisis continues to grow under the pressure of economic success.

Not to mention reports of Amazon workers crying at their desks.

But another issue has cropped up: the NRA channel on Amazon’s streaming service. After another school shooting, many people have asked for the online retailer to remove the channel. Meanwhile, Walmart has responded in the wake of the tragic incident by setting a new policy. The retail giant will no longer sell firearms to people under the age of 21.

“How is it that Walmart — who is the boogeyman of major companies that don’t treat their employees right — how is it that they are more responsive to this gun shooting than Amazon?” Tom asked. “Then they cite that Walmart, without any organized pressure, decided not to sell guns to people under the age of 21. Whereas Amazon has refused to take down NRA TV from their streaming service. And they see those things as comparable. So why is Amazon being so deaf toward calls for gun control and Walmart isn’t?”

Tom isn’t buying into the argument, however.

“I found this article sort of less-than-persuasive … I don’t buy the thrust of Business Insider on that,” he said.



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