Watch John Oliver’s spoof ad about what it’s really like to work in an Amazon warehouse
John Oliver offers an especially grim take on e-commerce warehouses in his latest extended signature rant (above), which debuted as part of Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” on HBO. He starts by showing excerpts from an annoyingly cheery Amazon promotional video that purports to show how much fun it is to work in one of its shipping centers (which prompts a “Fuck everything about this” response from Oliver, in the first of various sweary moments in the video—so if you’re watching this at work, maybe wear headphones). But it’s not just Amazon that gets scrutiny.
For instance, Oliver cites XPO Logistics, which ships phones for Verizon, and a pending lawsuit against it by workers who maintain that its non-air-conditioned warehouses reach extreme temperatures. (Oliver also notes XPO’s elusive responses to queries from his show’s researchers regarding an internal report about an XPO worker’s 2017 death from cardiac arrest.)
Amazon, though, gets most of Oliver’s attention, given that its leadership in logistics has raised the bar—and the insane pressure—for everyone in e-commerce. Per “Last Week Tonight,” the indignities visited upon Amazon warehouse workers range from thoroughly degrading (e.g., the way that long walks to far-away bathrooms can impact workers’ performance ratings) to dangerously degrading (e.g., accidents triggered by hapless robots that are beginning to replace the workers).
“The more you look at Amazon, the more you realize that its convenience comes with a real cost,” Oliver says before closing out his segment with a darkly comic remake of Amazon’s cheery promotional video (skip ahead to the 19:13 mark if you want to watch just that).