When UN-aligned launched our series of campaigns, we knew that asking the big and uncomfortable questions would not lead to quick and straightforward answers. So far, we have campaigned against anti-Muslim sentiment spearheaded by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. We have campaigned against the death penalty for three young Iranian protestors and are preparing campaigns against the discrimination of the LGBT+ community to religious and political leaders in the Middle East.
However, our most dedicated readers may be able to recall the first campaign of UN-aligned, which was an open letter to Amazon to discuss their cardboard packaging.
Compared to the nature of the topics that we have campaigned about since, this campaign, by its nature, sounds rather tame and accessible. Our readers may be surprised to learn that sending the open letter to Amazon, to express our concerns has been a bigger undertaking than researching, writing and preparing the letter itself.
To put the chaos into context, my requests for a reply to multiple Amazon email addresses, specifically set up for PR purposes, have been left unanswered. I therefore approached a customer services representative requesting the contact of somebody who could either provide more detailed information on Amazon’s environmental policies, or a section of Customer Services that could deal with general complaints/enquiries/suggestions.
This request was met with confusion and the insistence that I would need to discuss any complaint as an Amazon customer in relation to a specific Amazon order. Customer Services did in the end provide additional email addresses where I could discuss this further. The fact that different email addresses were provided to receive clarification on the same topic shows a serious lack of consistency in attending to the more ‘tricky customers’, but this is a side point.
Amazingly, my emails all bounced, except for one. The others did not receive incoming mail. So, it is unclear why these emails were provided to me in the first place, explicitly for the purpose of sending mail.
At this point, my faith is shaken somewhat in getting a timely, digital response. Letters have been written and posted the old-fashioned way to members of the Amazon executive team, plus the generic office address for Amazon in the US and the UK.
We await an answer but do not even expect an acknowledgement of receipt. More importantly, we continue to persist and think of new and creative ways to seek a response from Amazon and use this innovation when seeking answers for all of our campaigns.
Please note that I do not write this as a way to vent my frustrations, though I admit that writing this has had some therapeutic effects, but to address a larger problem relating to corporations such as Amazon.
If Amazon is only willing to engage in conversations with people through the lens of an existing customer, then it closes itself off to commentary and suggestions on a macro scale. Its approach resembles a tank crushing all the small trees underfoot, both metaphorically and in a literal sense, if their cardboard packaging is anything to go by.