Protocol | Workplace

The growing pains of canceling Prime: Why holiday shoppers are boycotting Amazon, even when it’s hard

Getting out of the "two-day free shipping" mindset is hard but worth it for a growing group of shoppers.

The growing pains of canceling Prime: Why holiday shoppers are boycotting Amazon, even when it’s hard

The shift away from Amazon might be generational, according to advocates and customers who are moving away from the platform.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Click banner image for more Shopping Week coverage

Danny Caine is used to not shopping on Amazon. As the owner of an independent bookstore as well as the author of the book "How to Resist Amazon and Why," to do so would be against everything he stands for.

But until recently, he found himself more or less an anomaly in a world where two-day Prime shipping is the norm and brown boxes dot the front porches and lobbies of millions of homes around the world. Today, "the conversation is growing in intensity," he said, and more people are joining him in hopping off the Amazon bandwagon.

As much as he would like to attribute the shift in consumer behavior to his book, Caine said he knows greater forces are at work. Not only are bookstores and small businesses like his getting better at talking about how Amazon harms their business, everyone from the Federal Trade Commission to the media is shedding more light on antitrust reform, environmental issues and privacy lapses, as well as growing labor concerns around union-busting and treatment of warehouse workers.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment from Protocol.

Miryam Jivotovski, a product manager at a tech company, is one of those recent converts. She said for her, the moment something switched was reading media reports of Amazon drivers peeing in bottles under pressure to skip bathroom breaks.

"I definitely used to feel OK about [shopping at Amazon]," she said, but something shifted after the 2016 election. "A lot of things happened around my understanding of the world and my values," she told Protocol.

'It's hard to practice waiting.'

Tsion McNichols stopped shopping on Amazon in 2020. She deleted her Prime account after the pandemic forced her to rethink "where I put my money and time and effort." Doing so has been "harder than I anticipated," she said.

Part of the impetus came during Prime Day 2019 when she "went crazy" and bought a lot of things: a portable laptop accessory, a swimsuit for her upcoming vacation and sunglasses. Then the boxes started arriving. Instead of coming in one big package, they came one at a time. The sunglasses turned out to be cheaply made, and the swimsuit was also of poor quality and didn't fit. She suddenly became very conscious of the packaging waste, as well as the hassle of returning all of the items. When her favorite local bar closed during the pandemic, she became vigilant about patronizing local businesses.

The shift is generational, according to advocates and customers who are moving away from the platform. While some people are avoiding Amazon, many of their friends and family still have no qualms about shopping on the site. Her parents and other older relatives don't have the same priorities around "slow consumption" and "intentional living" that McNichols and her friends care about.

"Of course, there's cheating days," the 26-year-old edtech employee told Protocol. It's hard to suddenly shake off the expectation of clicking "Add to Cart" and seeing that item arrive on your doorstep in under two days. "It's hard to practice waiting," she said, recalling one time she and her roommate were missing a wine bottle opener, and it was pouring rain outside. Neither of them wanted to brave the elements, and it would have been so much easier to just order one on Amazon.

"Part of my own personal journey has been to stop expecting and relying on convenience," said Naomi Crawford, owner of Lunchette, a restaurant and zero-waste store in Petaluma, California. "You have to make adjustments," she said. "They do feel like sacrifices."

'Having a little bit of friction to make purchases is a good thing.'

Benji Lampel is an enterprise platform architect at a startup and is based in Brooklyn. He hasn't had a Prime membership in over five years. The last thing he bought on Amazon was a toolset he purchased from his brother's wedding registry last year.

For him, the decision to consciously avoid Amazon started with an Alexa device he bought in college: an Amazon Echo. Lampel recalls sitting alone in his studio apartment one day and hearing the device turn itself on and announce that a new device had just been connected. "I remember thinking, 'Oh no, I have to get this out of my house immediately,'" he said. As someone who studied tech in college, he's always felt that smart home devices are "super insecure."

That aversion began to trickle into the way he felt about the rest of the tech giant's offerings. In Lampel's view, shopping on Amazon is different from shopping at other major retailers like Walmart or Target, in that he views it as a walled garden ecosystem, designed to keep your attention and "rewire your brain."

"Having a little bit of friction to make purchases is a good thing," Lampel said. His roommate works for Amazon, and he knows that Lampel doesn't shop there: "He's OK with it. I don't try to make him feel bad for working there either."

Crawford also finds Amazon "harder to stomach" than other traditional retailers. Although "there's no way" she'll be using Amazon for her holiday shopping, "I'm not anti-anything. I'm just pro-community." This holiday season, she'll be buying her gifts from "as many stores in my town as possible." As a small-business owner herself, she's conscious that giving local businesses her dollars translates to a paycheck for those businesses' employees who could then spend it on a meal or product at Lunchette.

'There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.'

Jivotovski broke her foot this year, which she said made it difficult for her to shop in her local community. Recently, she purchased some cleaning supplies on Amazon.

At the end of the day, "consumers shouldn't be responsible for what businesses do," she said. "There's no ethical consumption under capitalism."

As for McNichols, this holiday season she plans on purchasing gifts for her friends and family from her local businesses. She's thinking about buying gift cards, specifically, not only so that they can decide what they want for themselves, but also as a way to circumvent the potential supply chain issues that have been predicted for this holiday shopping season.

Better than avoiding Amazon is buying nothing

Environmental advocates argue that buying local — or even better, buying nothing — is even more convenient than buying on Amazon. Liesl Clark is the co-founder of the Buy Nothing Project, a social movement dedicated to building hyperlocal gift economies. Members of Buy Nothing groups give away and request items from other members, all without exchanging payment. In her view, not buying on Amazon is actually more convenient. If you have a robust gift community — say you're in search of a coffee maker and your neighbor has an extra lying around — transactions can happen within an hour.

"It's important for us to not be thinking of ourselves as consumers but as connected people who are resourceful and who can say no to manufacturers," Clark said.

Robert Martin, the executive director of The Independent Booksellers Consortium, agrees. Buying something in a store is "zero-day shipping," he said. Moreover, "the pleasure that can be derived from looking at merchandise in a store will always surpass scrolling through a website."

Protocol | Workplace

CTO to CEO: The case for putting the tech expert in charge

Parag Agrawal is one of the few tech industry CTOs to nab the top job. But the tides may be shifting.

Parag Agrawal’s appointment to Twitter's CEO seat is already alerting a new generation of CTOs that the top job may not be so out of reach.

Photo: Twitter

Parag Agrawal’s ascension to CEO of Twitter is notable for a few reasons. For one, at 37, he’s now the youngest CEO of an S&P 500 company, beating out Mark Zuckerberg. For another, his path to the top as a CTO-turned-CEO is still relatively rare in the corporate world.

His leap suggests that CEO succession trends may be shifting, as technology increasingly takes the center stage in business and strategy decisions not just for tech companies, but for the business world more broadly.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at

The fintech developers who made mobile banking as routine as texting or online shopping aren't done. The next frontier for innovation is open banking – fintech builders are enabling consumers to be at the center of where and how their data is used to provide the services they want and need.

Most people don't even realize they're using open banking services today. If they connected their investment and banking accounts in a personal financial management solution or app, they're using open banking. Perhaps they've seen ads about how they can improve their credit score by uploading pay stubs or utility records to that same app – this is also powered by open banking.

Keep Reading Show less
Bob Schukai
Bob Schukai is Executive Vice President of Technology Development, New Digital Infrastructure & Fintech at Mastercard, where he leads the technical design, execution and support of innovative open banking and fintech solutions, as well as next generation technologies to support global payment and data capabilities. Prior to Mastercard, Schukai’s work focused on cognitive computing, financial technology, blockchain, user experience and digital identity. He is also a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Protocol | Workplace

Google contractor says she was fired for 'ungoogley' behavior

According to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, "ungoogley" is Google's term for having a bad attitude.

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job after asking about pay.

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job for "ungoogley" behavior after asking about holiday pay at a meeting with management, according to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a lawyer for the Alphabet Workers Union.

Tuesday Carne said in an interview with Protocol that she was fired after just nine days of working in the data contracting facility in South Carolina. Carne's termination letter (which Protocol reviewed) called her behavior at the meeting "unacceptable and 'ungoogley'" and claimed that her behavior was the reason for her firing.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email:, where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Protocol | Policy

Biden FCC nominee Sohn is walking a tightrope with Republicans

Gigi Sohn faces plenty of GOP opposition, but the longtime net-neutrality advocate is hoping to pick up a little Republican support as she deals with Democrats’ narrow margins.

Gigi Sohn’s work for net neutrality has become an issue in her confirmation hearings for the FCC.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gigi Sohn wouldn’t mind getting support from a Republican or two, and it’d certainly make her path back to the Federal Communications Commission easier.

During her Senate Commerce Committee confirmation on Wednesday, Sohn, a progressive favorite and longtime net-neutrality advocate, touted her commitment to ensuring a diversity of voices on the airwaves, her past fights for small conservative networks she personally disagrees with and her habit of socializing with those she battles on policy.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Protocol | Workplace

Microsoft Teams is going after small businesses

Microsoft Teams Essentials offers longer, bigger meetings for a relatively small price tag.

Companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams.

Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Microsoft announced Wednesday that companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams — one of its most important products and a major player in work messaging and video chat, alongside Slack and Zoom. The product, called Microsoft Teams Essentials, aims to give small or medium-sized businesses a communication hub that costs less than its competitors'.

Microsoft will charge small businesses $4 per user per month for Microsoft Teams Essentials, while Zoom’s cheapest paid plan is $14.99 per user per month and Slack’s is $6.67 per user each month, when billed annually. The free version of Microsoft Teams still exists, as do the various other Microsoft 365 plans that include Teams. Teams Essentials offers longer meeting times, larger group meetings and more cloud storage.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at

Latest Stories