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Even Funeral Homes Are Getting Pinched by Amazon

Cremation boxes at a funeral home in New York City.



Photo:

Angus Mordant/Bloomberg News

When death gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Many American businesses have seen demand slump during the Covid-19 pandemic while others have seen it unexpectedly surge. Yet even those in the latter category haven’t always been able to capitalize. Take a sector that has received some 215,000 customers and counting courtesy of the coronavirus: death care.

Industry leader

Service Corp. International


SCI 0.33%

said it had a 7.3% increase in services performed in the second quarter but basically no bump in revenue as a growing share of families asked for “direct cremation,” which is cheaper than burial. Not that it didn’t try to upsell: “To further enhance revenue opportunities, we continue to focus on our cremation customers’ preferences and remaining relevant by developing additional memorialization merchandise and services,” wrote the company in its filing.

You can only charge so much for an urn, though. Adding insult to injury, there are hundreds of offers on sites such as

Etsy

of cremation jewelry and river stones. Some people are turning their loved ones’ cremains into artificial diamonds, for which the Cremation Institute provides a helpful buying guide. And for those “looking for a huggable memorial,” there are ash-containing teddy bears galore for sale on

Amazon.

Like so many businesses before them, the burning question for morticians is how to survive an onslaught of e-commerce.

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Amazon Looks to Use More Contractors for Grocery Delivery

Amazon.com Inc. Prime Deliveries As Workers Demand Better Pay

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. is experimenting with a new program that pays independent contractors to fetch groceries from shelves in Whole Foods stores and deliver them in their own vehicles.

The move may reduce the online retail giant’s reliance on employees who are eligible for medical insurance, sick pay and other benefits.

Amazon is encouraging Flex drivers — contractors who make deliveries in their own cars — to try the new program. These people currently drive groceries to customers’ homes, while the products are gathered and bagged in stores by Amazon employees earning at least $15 an hour. The test will require Flex drivers to do the picking and packing, too, according to correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg.

If the program catches on, it could help Amazon control costs by limiting the number of employees who are eligible for benefits. It also gives the company flexibility to adjust to spikes in demand since it can summon more Flex drivers for individual jobs quicker than it can hire and train new employees.

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On a website describing the new Shop and Deliver program, the company said it will provide Flex drivers “with a new flexible earnings opportunity.”

Gig-economy jobs have been criticized for low pay and a lack of benefits. But demand for these roles has increased as millions of people lose full-time jobs in the pandemic-fueled recession. Use of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft is down, which has pushed many drivers to seek work delivering online orders from stores and restaurants.

Read more: Amazon Drivers Are Hanging Smartphones in Trees to Get More Work

While the new program appears to be partly designed to limit full-time employees, Amazon also announced plans on Monday to hire 100,000 workers

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A secretive company that’s worked with Airbnb, Amazon, and Apple reportedly has a history of charging contractors to work for its corporate clients



a man sitting in front of a computer: A man works at a computer with a headset. Badias/Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


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A man works at a computer with a headset. Badias/Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • A customer service firm used by the likes of Apple, Amazon, Airbnb, and more has a history of exploiting the remote gig workers it recruits, according to a new ProPublica report.
  • Arise Virtual Solutions, which serves as a contractor to staff customer support teams, has seen booming business during the pandemic as it allows large corporations to easily hire and fire the people it contracts.
  • The report paints yet another picture of how workers in the gig economy are left vulnerable to exploitation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A customer service firm hired by the likes of Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, and Disney has seen a burgeoning business during the pandemic. But the 25-year-old firm also has a history of worker exploitation, according to a new ProPublica report.

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Arise Virtual Solutions acts as a middleman between gig workers — who, ProPublica reports, are mostly women and people of color — and big companies, pairing the remote customer service workers with large corporate clients. Arise’s clientele includes Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Disney, eBay, Peloton, Virgin Atlantic, and many others, according to the outlet.

The corporations are drawn to Arise’s services in part because of how quickly the firm can hire workers, the report notes. But Arise can also easily fire those customer service agents, without severance or insurance, in what is another example of how rampant worker vulnerability and exploitation can be in the gig economy.

Arise has been hit with federal class-action lawsuits since 2011, with workers alleging federal labor law violations and wrongful treatment of employees. ProPublica viewed hearings, internal documents, corporate contracts, and other records, as well as spoke with multiple agents for its investigation.

The

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The Best Stylish Shower Curtains That You Can Buy on Amazon

Shopping for a shower curtain can be a bit of a drag. Oftentimes, you just get a simple white curtain and cross your fingers that it won’t get moldy like your last one did. But as a fashionista and home decor enthusiast, you can do better than a boring shower curtain. There are plenty of cute options that’ll make your bathroom feel like a spa-like paradise—and if not, maybe it’ll at least feel like it reflects your sense of style. 

A curtain can’t just be judged on style alone, though. It needs to have substance, too, and last a long time. You don’t want to replace it after just three months. The best stylish shower curtains won’t get moldy or sprout mildew. They’ll dry quickly, and the colors in the curtain won’t fade over time. This might seem obvious, but the curtains also need to cover your entire shower and keep the water where it belongs—not on your floor. These shower curtains tick all of these boxes while also looking chic. Check out our picks below.

STYLECASTER’s mantra is ‘Style To The People’— and our mission is to be an accessible, inclusive, ahead-of-the-trend destination for millennial and Gen Z women who want to live with style and substance. Our fashion, beauty and lifestyle coverage is equal parts informative and inspiring, and at once aspirational yet attainable. If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.

1. AmazonBasics Mold and Mildew Resistant Shower Curtain

This curtain, which features classic beige and white horizontal stripes, is exactly what you need in your shower. It’s 72 in. by 72 in. and will cover your shower completely. It won’t be too long or short. Made out of polyester fabric, this curtain is

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Amazon Prime Video has added two brilliant new improvements

Amazon has added two useful new tweaks to its Prime Video streaming service, which are available to all subscribers right now. In order to stream exclusive shows and movies on-demand from Prime Video, you’ll need to pay a monthly Prime Video subscription fee, or become an Amazon Prime member, which comes with a number other perks, including the ability to take part in the upcoming Prime Day sales event.

Prime Video, which is the exclusive home of shows like The Boys, The Grand Tour, Good Omens, Utopia and All Or Nothing, has now added multi-language support. Only available in the UK, Germany, United States and Japan for the time being, the option lets viewers toggle between different dubbing options.

This is particularly useful for households with guests or family members who speak different languages. The ability to switch to an audio track from a different language – while adding subtitles in English, for example, should allow more people to sit around and watch together for the first time.

According to Amazon, these new audio and subtitle features are now available for several Amazon Originals including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Family Man, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Troop Zero, The Boys, The Expanse, The Last Narc, and Hanna “among many others”. The Seattle-based retail giant will be adding more titles to this option over time, so it’s well worth checking back in future weeks if nothing available tickles your fancy quite yet.

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New Amazon Echo Show 10 has a screen that follows you around the room

Elsewhere, Prime Video viewers in the UK, Germany, United States and Japan have also benefitted from another new feature.

Amazon has enabled “Auto Download” on all Android devices streaming Prime Video over Wi-Fi. By default, this means Prime Video

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