Amazon's torrid growth more than 15 years after its founding makes it an object of envy and fear across the retail world. It is now a $100bn company, about 12 times the value of Sears. Viewed from a public relations point of view, however, the quarter was pretty much a disaster, at least until the announcement of the Kindle tablet on Sept. 28. First came the lengthy fight with the state of California over whether Amazon would collect sales tax. Even more damaging was a long article in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. It revealed that workers in Amazon's local warehouse were collapsing from heat stress as they struggled to ship copies of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" so quickly that the customers would never even consider going to a land-based store.
It was a striking snapshot of the underbelly of the internet economy: Amazon arranged with the local ambulance service to have vehicles stationed outside the warehouse on peak heat days. As workers fell down on the job, they were whisked away to the hospital, the newspaper said.
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