The Reality Of Online Shopping

Online shopping. We point, click, and buy. Then what happens? We’ll investigate.

In this Nov. 16, 2009 photo, Reginald Armstead, Jr., of Phoenix, sends a package on its way after packing it at the 800,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP)

In this Nov. 16, 2009 photo, Reginald Armstead, Jr., of Phoenix, sends a package on its way after packing it at the 800,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP)

Online shopping is such a breeze.  Plug in your credit card.  Point, click and buy.  It seems like magic.  But what happens after that little e-mail that says your order is confirmed?  .

Well, here’s what happens.  Somewhere in America, likely in a truly giant warehouse, likely at a very low wage, often a temp worker is off like a shot to find that product and send it on its way.  And they do that maybe a thousand times a day.  Running like rabbits.  Fire-able for any reason.  Desperate.  To bring you fast, free shipping.

This hour, On Point:  The new coal miners.  Inside warehouse America.

-Tom Ashbrook


Mac McClelland, a reporter for Mother Jones, you can find her new story on the working conditions inside a fulfillment center here.

Spencer Soper, a business reporter for the Allentown Morning Call. You can find a series of his stories about the conditions inside an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania here.

Robert Korstad, professor of public policy and history at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

From Tom’s Reading List

Mother Jones “Several months prior, I’d reported on an Ohio warehouse where workers shipped products for online retailers under conditions that were surprisingly demoralizing and dehumanizing, even to someone who’s spent a lot of time working in warehouses, which I have. And then my editors sat me down.”

Morning Call “Elmer Goris spent a year working in’s Lehigh Valley warehouse, where books, CDs and various other products are packed and shipped to customers who order from the world’s largest online retailer.”

Morning Call “More than 12,600 people pledged to boycott online retailer  this holiday season to protest “sweatshop” working conditions at its Lehigh Valley warehouses, according to the union advocacy group American Rights at Work.”

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