Online shopping has become the norm, and every day people are getting more and more packages delivered to their doorsteps. But when April Dorsett received a box from Amazon in December 2017, it was far from normal. In fact, she found a disturbing note inside that shocked her deeply.
April Dorsett hails from Bolton in Greater Manchester, England, where she lives with her parents, Philip and Kim Dorsett. At the time of this delivery, she was only 13 years old, so she was very excited to see a package with her name on it.
It turned out that her father had ordered a £30 ($41) make-up advent calendar through Amazon as an early Christmas treat for April. He apparently requested that the invoice say, “Love from mum and dad.” Unfortunately, this is not what April received.
After the package came through the mail, April’s parents asked her if she had read the note. In response, she asked, “Do you mean this one?” She showed them the invoice, and her parents were shocked to read what the note said. “This isn’t right,” Kim thought.
Handwritten on the invoice, the note said, “Help me please, PMP staff are evil.” PMP is the recruitment agency that Amazon hires to handle distribution in various warehouses. This note clearly suggested, then, that PMP’s staff had handled the box.
Kim, 32, told the Daily Mirror that her daughter is a vegan who cares about people and animals. Young April was therefore especially concerned about the possibility of Amazon running sweatshops and asked her mom to contact Amazon.
So, to ease her daughter’s worries, Kim agreed to contact Amazon. To that end, she took a photo of the invoice and then shared it in a post on Amazon’s Facebook page. Alongside that, she told Amazon all about what had happened. She wanted Amazon to confirm whether it was a prank.
Kim wrote, “My 13-year-old daughter received her advent calendar today from her dad. She was all excited to open it because it was addressed to her. She found this inside of her box and is worried Amazon are running sweat shops… I’ve told her it’s probably a prank but can you just confirm this, Amazon.”
It didn’t take long for Amazon to answer. In fact, just an hour after Kim’s post, Aisha, a representative from Amazon, commented on the photo. But her response did not satisfy the worried mom at all.
Aisha said, “Oh no! I am so sorry your daughter received this note in her package, Kim. We’d like for our team to look into this for you. Please fill out this form at your earliest convenience. Thank you.”
Kim’s subsequent answer reflected her likely surprise at Amazon’s response. She wrote, “They didn’t answer my question,” followed with a shocked emoji. Moreover, she explained to the Daily Mail that people had told her about stories that had made her think this maybe had not been a prank at all.
She said, “I thought it must be a prank and I was overreacting, but then people pointed out all the stories about Amazon lately.” She continued, “This is quite worrying. It’s the sort of thing you hear about happening in sweatshops in China.”
For instance, only the week before, in November 2017, the Sunday Mirror had launched an inquiry into Amazon. During this, it had looked into one of Amazon’s warehouses in Tilbury, Essex, in the United Kingdom. The outcome was that Amazon was accused of overworking its staff to the point where they needed ambulances.
The paper claimed that warehouse employees had hourly targets that were so unreachable that they worked to the point of exhaustion. Indeed, the report stated that workers had to pack a new box every 30 seconds. Moreover, some overworked employees were shown apparently falling asleep while standing. The Sunday Mirror also said workers even had monitored toilet breaks.
However, the online retailer said that this investigation was “inconsistent with [the experience of] the many thousand we employ all over Britain. There is on-site physiotherapy. We do not monitor toilet breaks.”
But let’s get back to April’s letter. PMP, the agency that did the distribution for Amazon, took the whole situation very seriously. Specifically, it wanted to underline that it was not involved in any illegal labor. It even made a statement on its website confirming that it sticks to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
On top of this, PMP also gave a statement to the U.K. newspaper regarding the disturbing note. It said, “PMP Recruitment employs over 100,000 people across a range of clients, many of whom have stayed with us for a number of years or return each year during our peak trading period, so we do not recognise the comment made as being an accurate or fair representation of the employee experience we provide.”
PMP concluded, “We provide various channels to raise concerns, including a confidential helpline, and have not received any complaints of this nature. We do, however, take such comments extremely seriously and will be investigating in conjunction with our client.”
But people who have commented on the story have expressed disgust at both Amazon and PMP. One user wrote, “I used to work for PMP, I worked hard and didn’t stand around chatting. One day, a manager saw me chatting to a Romanian guy for a minute, the next day I was told not to come in again.”
So while there are several claims about the online retailer, the identity of the note’s author remains. And despite people pointing fingers pointing towards Amazon and PMP, we can only hope that it was indeed a joke, like Kim initially thought.