Amazon.com Reviews

Updated 28 August, 2014
Updated 28 August, 2014
3,561 Reviews

3.3
3,561 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
Amazon.com Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
2,478 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Good opportunity to learn a lot in a particular area of software development (in 101 reviews)

  • Density of talent: Some really smart people spoiling their careers here (in 306 reviews)


Cons
  • Company is not at all sorry to screw people's work-life balance for itself to excel (in 540 reviews)

  • There is literally no work life balance inside this company (in 125 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Varies by team and "frugal"

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Amazon.com as an intern

    Pros

    Seattle is great. Housing was good. Pay is very good. Great relocation team.

    Cons

    Frugal means fewer and lower quality perks. Some of things we were given fell apart. Mostly importantly experience varies greatly by team. A bad team means a very bad experience, as you are yelled at and overworked. Overwork is the culture. You will miss traditional software engineering practices, as often release is more important than quality- disproportionately so and scope creep is out of control on some teams. Recruiting is slipshod, they disappear for weeks at a time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Better management practices for interns and employees. Some software engineering practices.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 5 people found this helpful  

    Challenging work and smart people all around. No perks. High turn over rate.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II  in  Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Vancouver, BC

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    High hiring standards mean you will be surrounded with smart people. Easy to transfer to other jobs inside the company. Good stepping stone as a means to reach nerdvana ( Google, Facebook, Apple ).

    Cons

    Excessive overtime without compensation. Difficult to schedule vacations. Poor scheduling of projects. Favouritism. Below average pay. Benefit plan is average. Promotions are difficult to get and the pay raise is very low. Expected to perform at new job level for a full year before promotion will be considered. Two years at Amazon is considered a very long time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    An eye for an eye... in other words, make sure employees get just rewards for their efforts.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Interesting place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Operations Leadership Intern  in  Mississauga, ON
    Former Employee - Operations Leadership Intern in Mississauga, ON

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Fun place to work
    Lots of other responcibility and freedom

    Cons

    No a very good grounding process to learn what to do

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 3 people found this helpful  

    Meh

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II  in  Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Vancouver, BC

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    High hiring bar ensures smart teammates

    Cons

    Everyone is overworked.
    Ops load is pretty high.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Dont set aggressive deadlines

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    Take Google's engineering scale, mix Apple's customer satisfaction focus, and you get Amazon

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Engineer  in  Vancouver, BC
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Vancouver, BC

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time

    Pros

    For an engineer, not excited about the roller-coaster ride in a start-up, it cannot get any better than Amazon. You will get to work of technologies that need to scale to cater million if customer, and hundreds of million requests made by these customers. With AWS as backbone, and working with tons of in-house and open source technologies, you will gain invaluable experience, which ensure both technical and financial growth. The companies motto of being frugal and passing the saving to the customer will ensure you always come up with the right engineering solution to problem.

    Cons

    Good pay, but not a lot of extra perks. Limited financial growth at the company, but it prepares you for good financial growth outside the company.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest a bit more in employees

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Work Hard, Play Hard

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer

    I worked at Amazon.com

    Pros

    They work you hard, which occasionally leads to burnout, but the work tends to be quite interesting, which makes the whole process satisfying.

    Cons

    Minimal perks, frugal is an understatement, but occasionally it's to the point of penny pinching. Depending on your team, there may be as little as no team building type activities, though I've heard tales of other teams that do beer and boardgames and pizza quite frequently

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If yo have a budget to spend on your team, spend it! It's there to make sure your team is working in tip top shape. It may not seem like much but when there's a little bit of tangible gratitude for the work we've been putting in, it's quite uplifting.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 171 people found this helpful  

    Can be amazing for some people, horrible for others

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager  in  Seattle, WA (US)
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager in Seattle, WA (US)

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Amazon is doing lot's of cool stuff...but lots of boring stuff too. There are really well run teams...and very badly run teams. The experience for software managers and engineers is all over the board, from really run low operational load teams to teams where people burn out after a year.

     - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. You can generally expect that anyone who's been here for more than 2 years is competent and motivated or they wouldn't have survived. You can count on them as long as your priorities are aligned. There aren't many slackers here, and they don't survive long.
      - We work on so much stuff that there's always an opportunity to find amazing cool stuff to work on (note that it's an 'opportunity', one that you have to pursue)
      - A chance to make a huge difference
      - A place where you can learn a lot about all kinds of things, both technical and about yourself
      - Amazon encourages high mobility - even your manager can't prevent you from moving to another team within 6 weeks (normally, more than a few months under unusual conditions).
      - Your friends and family have actually heard of the place you work and have at least a vague notion of what Amazon does without you having to explain

    Cons

    - You're responsible for your own career progression and finding the places and teams that are doing the stuff you want to do. No one is going to take you by the hand and help you with that.
    - Amazon is built, quite deliberately, to be Darwinian. The strong survive and the weak perish (metaphorically speaking) and the 'bar' is constantly increasing. The level of performance that would have been acceptable five years ago will get you canned today. It's a kind of crucible that'll help you develop a harder edge, if you can survive, that can serve you well in your career and in life, but it's often not a pleasant experience.

    I wouldn't recommend it as a place to work for just anyone.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stack ranking is a horrible practice since it's rife with favoritism. It's also not Amazonian in that it's not data based (arbitrarily designating a certain percentage of employees that must be put on performance management isn't a data driven criterion) and it's not frugal (effectively forcing an individual out of the company in one division who would make the grade in another is either retaining someone who doesn't meet the bar or a waste of talent). The goal is to force managers to actually make the hard decisions about how their team members compare with each other (not everyone can be exceptional), but it has more defects than virtues. Replace it with a common comparison of each person against the bar for their position, based on data. The percentages that are assigned to each performance category will turn out how they turn out, but there will be an evaluation mechanism that's fair and frugal.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 247 people found this helpful  

    Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Marketing  in  Seattle, WA (US)
    Former Employee - Marketing in Seattle, WA (US)

    I worked at Amazon.com full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    The name will precede you. This company can legitimately be called a "Disruptor" and perhaps even a world-changer. Customers love it and it's amazing to watch it all unfold at times. It's a pleasure to be even a small part of that.

    Even low-level employees are given some ownership, more than they might in some other places. Processes like the customer service andon cord demonstrate this.

    Pay is mostly good, with some caveats (see the Cons section).

    You will learn a ton. You'll be put through the ringer, but will emerge stronger for it. It's been said that a year at Amazon = two years elsewhere. That's definitely true. You'll learn business, supply chain, tech, retail, you name it. You're surrounded by smart people who challenge you to grow constantly. That was one of my favorite parts about working here.

    You can bring your dog to the office, dress code is casual, and South Lake Union is a fun neighborhood to work in. Seattle is stunningly beautiful in the summer, too (if you have time to enjoy it, that is.)

    Bezos is one of the few CEOs I've seen who earns the glowing reputation. He's a genius and a visionary. It's exciting to work in his company, though the thought of what will happen when he moves on is also a bit frightening.

    Cons

    "Work-life balance" means different things to different people, so I'm not going to say it's bad here per se. That said, long hours are the norm at all levels across the company, and usually that's required and expected just to keep up. Expect 60 hours as your baseline year round and 70 or more during Q4. You should expect that your time and mental energy for kids, hobbies, etc. will be extremely limited. Plan accordingly. Whether this is a negative will depend largely on the individual; just ensure you know where you stand on this before you sign an offer letter.

    That Amazon is a massive company with tons of smart people at all levels can actually be a huge negative. You might be a solid individual contributor, but so is absolutely everyone else - and you're all fighting for the same attention. It can be very hard to stand out, and you have to ensure your manager and your manager's manager know what value you bring at all times or you're toast. (You may still be toast regardless.) That means politics, backstabbing, and stack ranking do occur, despite some claims to the contrary. People definitely look out for themselves and themselves alone here; it's not a collaborative environment. It's also very easy to get the sense that you are a highly expendable cog even if your contributions bring significant value to the company. Plan to fight for yourself hard here, and be prepared to not get much acknowledgment or praise. Even if you do prove yourself well, know that advancement opportunities are limited. Most transfers in my observation were lateral, with big new hires being external. I've heard that the strategy of many people is to do a few intense years of lateral moves which can then be leveraged into a higher position at another company.

    Compensation is a mixed bag. Salaries are just average, but you get a huge signing bonus and stock which vests in strange increments over four years. Since the average employee lasts less than two years, you will not see most of that stock and you may need to repay some of that signing bonus (usually awarded over two years) if you leave or are pushed out. Raises are very, very small each year - your salary will not substantially increase even with a good review. Most people work startup hours, so their effective pay rate is pretty low. Additionally, the company espouses frugality as a core value. While this can be a positive, it also means they're downright cheap on some things, including hardware. Employee perks are pretty much nonexistent, and that's compared to most big companies and not just the Googles of the world. Benefits like health insurance and 401k match are mediocre at best. No free Prime accounts. No paid parental leave; moms get disability and dads get zip. (As in zero. None.) I did mention earlier that this isn't the most kid-friendly company to work for.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It's great to work at a place that highly values customer experience, so please keep that up. Work on your compensation - it's not competitive when compared to other tech giants. If I'm going to work as hard or as much as I did, at least I'd get free haircuts and food and massages at Google. Hell, even some paid paternity leave would be a start.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 11 people found this helpful  

    Opportunity like nowhere else

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager  in  Palo Alto, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Software Development Manager in Palo Alto, CA (US)

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Great place to get things done and grow your resume. You are working with really smart people and have access to a lot of enablers. The culture here enshrines "bias for action" which is your license to cut through the red tape when it gets in the way.

    Cons

    Low titles, lack of performance pay. The appearance of frugality is valued beyond its business benefit. This can make you feel less valued regardless of your salary. Stack ranking encourages people to play the system rather than do the right thing. Negotiate hard before you arrive.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The first few performance reviews here are tougher than they should be and lead to attrition. Managers have to play the system to give promotions and money where they can. Because overall Amazon has been so successful, upper management has failed to recognize the cost of this attrition and how much better performance could be without this problem. We are using up our talent pool and our competitors are skilled at playing up the negative aspects of the culture here.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 47 people found this helpful  

    Customers First at the Expense of Employees

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Instock Manager  in  Seattle, WA (US)
    Current Employee - Instock Manager in Seattle, WA (US)

    I have been working at Amazon.com full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Smart Coworkers
    At Amazon you’re going to work with some really bright individuals. Everyone I work with is very intelligent and very hard working. That’s evident by the clock ticking down to 6:00 and seeing all your coworkers typing still at their door desks.

    Interesting Work
    The work you do at Amazon is already quite fun. On the retail side it’s like running your own business. There’s so much to do and you’re never bored with the work. It’s neat to see how everything you do impacts your business and improves it.

    Casual Work Environment
    It's also quite nice that you can go to work in jeans and a t-shirt. Bringing your dog to work is great also, but really it's just a wait to keep you there longer.

    Cons

    Before I go into the cons I’m going to say that this is based upon my personal experience during my 3 positions on the retail side of the company.

    No Work Life Balance
    60 hour work weeks are normal. Meetings at 5:00 happen and people regularly work past 7:00. It feels like I go to work, get home, work some more, go to sleep, and repeat. On the weekends I get a bit of a break, but I still am required to work as I have certain reports and other tasks that have not yet been automated to complete. Amazon work kills all hope I have of an outside life.

    Always on call
    Even being on vacation doesn’t matter as you’ll receive high priority emails management wants answered right away. Holidays are no exceptions. I was called once at 6:00 AM on a holiday because of a promotion running at a competitor I had to match. I finished all tasks associated with the promotion at about 8:00 PM. I didn’t have a holiday as a result, but customers were able to get a good deal on the retail products I was in charge of.

    Single People Preferred
    Do not expect to see your kids or significant other regularly. If you mention you have to leave early, like 5:00 (which is a normal 8 to 5 day) to pick up your kids or go to a dinner date, expect to be mocked by your boss after you’re gone. I’m regularly late now to almost all after work events because of work that is given and required to be completed after 5:00.

    Too Much Work
    This is great as you’re never bored, but it also means you’ll constantly be working. Lunch normally doesn’t happen as you’re in a meeting during that time, completing something for later deadline, or rushing for a fire drill. It’s basically survival of the fittest here. You will need to automate your tasks or risk drowning in a pile of endless work. There are a lot of improvements needed to be made at Amazon and management wants them done now.

    High Bars
    Once you’ve automated your work and reached your goals, you’ll be asked to surpass that the next year. Eventually your goals will become impossible to achieve. I’ve mentioned this to management and their answers are normally along the lines of “I’m not sure how you’ll be able to improve, but you need to.”

    Small Raises
    I’ve been lucky that I’ve achieved high ratings on my reviews and so my raises have been just above inflation. Even so, they’re laughable. Raises occur only on your base pay and your base pay is relatively a small portion of your compensation.

    Golden-handcuffs
    Amazon entices you with a bonus your first two years and stock every year afterwards. If you leave the company before the end of the year in which you received a bonus you’ll have to pay it back. If you leave during one of the years in which your stock vest it’s like you worked for nothing. My stock is almost equal to my base pay for example. This keeps you working for the company.

    Low Base Pay
    Living off your base pay is also terrible as the cost of living here in Seattle is rising. You’re income on paper will look like you make a decent amount of money, but only because of your stock/bonuses. If you choose not to cash out of it when it vests you’ll be living by meager means as most of your pay will go to rent and other expenses. Having a low base pay also puts you in a different bracket for loans as they don’t consider your grants and bonuses reliable income.

    Frugality
    Only the bus pass is free. Parking is not and parking is expensive. Amazon will reimburse up $160 worth of parking, but at over $25.00 a day it doesn’t go very far. If you can get monthly parking you’ll pay less, but there’s a long wait list. On the bright side most people leave after 2 years so you may get a spot if you stay long enough. There are also no employee perks that I’m aware of, except free coffee and tea in the kitchen.

    Performance Improvement Plans
    PIP is very real at Amazon. A certain number of people in your department every year will be put on it. Essentially the weakest link will be eliminated. If you don’t perform better than someone else you’ll be let go. Politics are very real and active as well. Consider it similar to Game of Thrones. Make sure someone owes you a favor and preferably that’s someone at a higher level.

    Promotions
    Lateral moves are common, promotions are not. Most people rotate after 1-1/2 years. Getting promoted requires laterally moving to a high job level. Once in that level you will need to perform the job better than coworkers doing the same job at the level you’re trying to get promoted to. This accounts to doing a much harder job with more work at a lower wage than everyone else until you’ve proven yourself. You’re also competing with other coworkers at your level and job for the promotion. This works great for the company, but makes you feel like you’re way underpaid for the job you’re doing.

    Turnover
    I’m not sure the exact numbers as Amazon is constantly hiring new people, but it seems high. I’ve seen lots of people leave Amazon that I’ve worked with. The average stay seems to be about 2 years. After that people leave for better opportunities. Consider this place a stepping stone to the next job. Also expect your workload to increase each time someone leaves until they fill that position. You may be moving on before that happens though as Amazon has a really high bar for hiring.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Amazon could be a great place to work. I actually enjoyed working for the company for the first 1-1/2 years. After that I realized things were not going to get better. My work days did not get shorter, only longer. I now feel like all I do is work and am starting to burn out as a result. I could probably deal with most of the other flaws, but I work to live not live to work. I’m counting down the days until my next stock grant and then I’m heading for the door.

    I’m not the only one either that thinks like this. Most people will not speak the truth; even if you ask me to my face I’ll lie and say I’m not going anywhere. I’d lie because I know the politics of the place would stab me in the back if I told the truth. Working at Amazon is a job, not a career.

    If the stock ever crashes you can also expect a mass exodus of workers as our base pay isn’t comparable to other offers out there.

    My advice is to look at my list of cons and figure out a way to fix them. We do the same thing to improve the experience of the customer, why don’t we improve the work life of our employees? How many good people have to leave before Amazon upper management figures this out?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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