Eager to advance the news cycle after a recent disastrous attempt at a social media “clap back,” online retail giant Amazon is launching a new online car shopping website for its employees.
The $1.7 trillion e-commerce giant has been in the automotive game since 2016 when it launched Amazon Vehicles as a resource for prospective buyers, but the new website will give Amazon employees a one-stop-shop for all their car buying needs. Branded as Amazoom, the website aims to revive the company store model that proved so popular in 19th-century coal mines and lumber camps.
The announcement comes on the heels of a terse exchange between a U.S. Congressman and Amazon’s official Twitter account. Long derided for its questionable labor practices, Amazon made the bold decision to sass Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) over a tweet in which the lawmaker chastised the retailer for calling itself a “progressive” employer.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a “progressive workplace” when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” the tweet read. Pocan’s message itself came in response to a tweet from Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s global consumer unit, who compared the monolithic corporation to Bernie Sanders while simultaneously taking a shot at the progressive Vermont Senator.
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” tweeted out @AmazonNews, reacting to the kerfuffle between Pocan and Clark. While corporations are usually fairly savvy about antagonizing sitting lawmakers, the tweets from Clark and Amazon News were actually inspired by Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos. The aspiring Bond villain has reportedly grown tired of what he deems unfair criticism of the company’s labor practices and asked that corporate mouthpieces offer more pushback to such critiques.
Amazon has since relented on denying the bottle peeing allegation, saying it was under the impression that Pocan’s tweet was referencing the micturition habits of those in its Fulfillment Centers, not Amazon delivery drivers.
Amazoom is seen by many as the company’s attempt to paper over the social media scandal, with the car buying website joining a long list of fringe benefits that include free oxygen and being allowed to see your family (though physical contact is still limited to Prime members and those who meet production quotas).
Reviving a Classic
Amazoom will allow the company’s employees to have their wages applied directly to car payments, employing a scrip system in which all employee compensation is paid out in a currency which can only be used at Amazon itself. While such scrip or “truck” systems have been outlawed in the United Kingdom since the Truck Act of 1725, Amazon ensures employees that since it now trades in practically every sector short of human organs, they’ll notice very little difference from their current form of compensation.
“The goal is to eventually integrate the Amazon brand into every facet of our employee’s lives,” says Mark Singer, Amazon’s Senior VP of Appearing Less Evil. “Our vision is that one day you’ll be able to leave your Amazon Pre-Fab Duplex, get in your Amazon Sedan Model 294-G and drive to your job at the Amazon Fulfillment Center,” he says. “There you’ll enjoy Amazon-Whole Foods Nutrition Paste #003 (Chik’n And Brocco-Like) for lunch before returning home to spend the evening cozying up to your Amazon Domestic Partner Version 3.5 and taking in a game between the Amazon Cubs and the Amazon Padres.”
Amazon isn’t just simplifying the car buying process for its employees; it’s introducing new models that will appeal specifically to the company’s workforce. The Honda Model A, for example, comes standard with cement blocks for wheels. This innovation not only drastically reduces traffic accidents by rendering the vehicle 100 percent stationary but also makes the Model A a cost-effective alternative to owning a home. The 2-door, 0 wheel drive vehicle is built directly in an Amazon Fulfillment Center parking lot, where employees can get to know one another while warming hot dogs over a cozy barrel fire.
“Detractors might call it a ‘shanty town,’ but we don’t like that term here at Amazon, so we’ve encouraged employees to refer to them as ‘shanty communities,’” says Singer while seated beneath a large TRUST BEZOS poster. Despite the company’s attempts at rebranding, an alternative term has taken hold as of late: Bezosvilles. These pop-up communities can accommodate as many as 1,200 living units and feature everything from schools and churches to cholera and stray dogs.
“We tried to start a baseball league, but our supervisor said team sports are dangerously close to a union,” says Jeff Hantomouph, an Amazon employee who rents the trunk of a Model A from his brother Andy.
Industry Partners Collaborate…or Else
Amazon is also currently developing a slate of new features that will be available on all vehicles purchased through Amazoom. Tapping its extensive network of business partners, the e-commerce retailer has been able to convince a number of industry leaders to join the effort. The auto website initiative not only allows these partners to exploi…serve the brand’s captive customer base but also ensure that nothing “bad” happens to their web servers or pets.
“We’re very excited to partner with Amazon to change the face of the American automobile,” says a very sweaty Gilbert Keene, CEO of plumbing fixture manufacturer Kohler. “There’s no denying the power and influence of Amazon in the digital marketplace, and we would be very, very dumb not to jump at the opportunity to work with them…as I’ve been told many times late at night by an anonymous man who won’t stop calling my house,” Keene says.
The Amazon-Kohler project will be the first vehicle in the world to feature a fully functioning toilet in place of a driver’s seat. Dubbed the Bummer by Amazon engineers, the vehicle features a privacy curtain, heated seat, and integrated drug-testing urinalysis module. Starting at $23,398, the Bummer is only the entry-level toilet-equipped model. A pricer, race-ready model featuring marble floors, a magazine rack, and a built-in air freshener is also being developed in collaboration with a storied German performance car manufacturer and will tentatively be called the Porsche Potty.
“How many road trips have been plagued by a never-ending quest to find a bathroom,” asks Keene. These vehicles aim to make such searches a thing of the past while also providing advertisers with valuable data about driver’s bathroom habits and auto-generating new Prime orders. “You can call it an invasion of privacy, but I just call it: never running out of toilet paper again,” he says.
There are other concept models currently in the works, though most are seen more like statement pieces than full-run production vehicles. One notable highlight is the “Union-made” Ford Fiesta, which is guaranteed to break down within 11 miles of the dealership and has a radio that broadcasts nothing but a dramatic reading of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. There’s also a limited-run collaboration with Jeep in the works for all of Amazon’s C-level executives. The modified Wrangler features heat-resistant tires and has been specifically tuned to traverse the side of Bezos’ hollowed-out volcano island headquarters.
As Amazon continues to ravenously gobble up market share, the company’s commitment to vertical integration remains strong as ever. By stifling competition, controlling the internet’s very levers of power, and paying less in taxes than the average dog walker, the company is able to pursue innovations like Amazoom that make the brand an inevitable if unwelcome part of everyday life.