Amazon Offers Uncommon Apology, Says It Will Find Solutions For Drivers Who Piss On Bottles

An Amazon Prime truck in downtown Seattle, near Amazon headquarters. (Photo by GeekWire / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon issued a rare apology Friday night, stepping away from comments made on Twitter last week in response to Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan about whether its delivery drivers felt the need to pee in bottles as the breaks to go to the bathroom were a challenge.

The apology is an unusual admission from the Seattle-based company, which of late has aggressively defended itself from criticism on Twitter. It also comes as Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, consider a organizing effort, and a vote recount is expected next week.

Here’s Pocan’s tweet on March 24 that set things off.

The official Amazon Twitter account @AmazonNews replied to Pocan:

Pocan responded that he believed in Amazon workers. And, as GeekWire reported, thousands of other users on Twitter joined the debate.

Amazon said Friday that the tweet was “incorrect” and “did not address our large population of drivers and instead mistakenly focused only on our fulfillment centers.”

The company also said the tweet did not receive adequate scrutiny and called its process “flawed.”

However, Amazon defended itself a bit, saying that drivers having trouble finding restrooms “is a long-standing problem across the industry and not specific to Amazon.” It included several links to related stories and tweets.

“Regardless of the fact that this affects the entire industry, we would like to resolve it,” the company wrote on Friday. “We still don’t know how, but we will look for solutions.”

Last week’s saga was an unusual PR fight for Amazon, which generally avoids such controversies. The issue rose to prominence after Recode reported this week that the responses came from above, led by none other than founder Jeff Bezos.

Historically, Amazon has let criticism bounce off its Teflon shell. And the apology points to heightened sensitivity as workplace tensions mount, Bezos handing over the CEO reins to AWS chief Andy Jassy, ​​and antitrust scrutiny ongoing.

Here’s the full apology posted on the Amazon blog:

On Wednesday of last week, the Twitter account @amazonnews tweeted the following to Representative Mark Pocan:

It was an own goal, we are not happy and we owe Representative Pocan an apology.

First, the tweet was wrong. It did not look at our large driver population and instead mistakenly focused only on our fulfillment centers. A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of restrooms and employees can walk away from their work station at any time. If a fulfillment center employee has a different experience, we encourage you to speak to their manager and we will work to fix it.

Second, our process was flawed. The tweet did not receive adequate scrutiny. We need to stick to an extremely high precision bar at all times, and that is especially true when we criticize the comments of others.

Third, we know that drivers can have trouble finding toilets due to traffic or sometimes rural routes, and this has been especially the case during Covid, when many public toilets have been closed.

This is a long-standing problem that affects the entire industry and is not specific to Amazon. We have included just a few links below that address the issue.

Regardless of the fact that this affects the entire industry, we would like to resolve it. We still don’t know how, but we will look for solutions.

We will continue to speak out when false information is presented, but we will also work hard to always be accurate.

We apologize to Representative Pocan.

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