Defiant Amazon Will Pay Fines Rather Than Give Up Free Shipping In France

from the liberty,-equality-and-shipping-fees dept

A month ago, we wrote about the somewhat bizarre ruling in France that Amazon cannot offer free shipping within the country, as it represents an excessive discount in a country where the price of books is strictly regulated. Amazon was told that it would be fined 1,000 euros per day for continuing. Amazon has now appealed the ruling and defiantly noted that it will pay the fine rather than give in. Of course, after thirty days, the court can review the situation and could (and likely will) raise the fine to respond to Amazon's outspoken defiance. Legal experts quoted in the article suggest that there's very little chance that Amazon can win the appeal, but Amazon seems to be using this battle as a way to drum up some extra attention for its free shipping policies (for now) in France. Eventually, it may have to give in, but in the meantime, for 1,000 euros a day and all the news coverage, it's a pretty cheap advertisement for Amazon's free shipping offering.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ricky @ MWIR.net, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Go Amazon!

    That is awesome!! Stick it to those stupid french!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Witty Nickname, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    I doubt the French will raise the fee, more likely that the French will just surrender in the face of defiance.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Hellsvilla, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    more likely that the French will just surrender

    That was hilarious, thank you

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    yogi, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    Can someone explain why

    the price of books needs to be regulated by the government?

    And why would such regulation disapprove of cheaper and more readily available books for the people?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    wifezilla, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Good questions Yogi. I was thinking the same thing. Why WOULD the government get upset if you sold cheaper books???

     

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  6.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    Amazon

    Amazon gets props for sticking it to em.
    Standing for good things is the way to go.
    Don't see this very often from large companies anymore.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    Control.

    Once a government has control of something they don't like to let go.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Re: Can someone explain why

    It's one small part of a large, longstanding system of laws aimed at making sure the big bad chains don't put small shops out of business.

    The Economist had an article on this phenomenon recently, if you want to read a bit more. (It doesn't talk about France specifically, but much the same sorts of laws and motivations are involved.)

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Steve, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:18am

    Shipping

    I don't understand this. In reality there is no "free" shipping. Amazon pays it - they just don't pass it along to the customer. This is illegal?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Socialism, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re: Can someone explain why

    Because it is a form socialist economy. The government controls most everything, thinking, wrongly, that government control is better than free market self regulation.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    Sticking it to them?

    How is it sticking it to them to pay a thousand euros every day? Amazon is just trying to attract attention to themselves to make money.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    ShadyJ, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Typical Government

    This is just so typical of government in general. It seems so plain to me that offering free shipping is not in fact discounting the actual book. If they want to regulate book prices to protect the "small business" fine. However, now they are leveraging the field entireley in favor of the brick and mortar business, because in essence, they already have free shipping. When was the last time you bought a book at an actual store and paid shipping, if ever?

    They might as well just say they are doing this to "protect the children" or some other B.S. government line thats used when the liegislation makes absolutely no sense.
    Go Amazon!

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Socialist, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Re: Can someone explain why

    How is it wrong? Look at how many small towns in the US that have been shut down (i.e. All the mom and pop shops closed) because a Wal-Mart moved in? Most of the US is now dominated by the big-box stores, and Canada is quickly getting enveloped in the garbage as well. You also have to think of it as a way of controlling imports as well. If you have two items of similar nature, and both sell for $10, but one made by a respectable name with factories in a country with strict regulations, and one made in China with biohazardous materials. Which would you buy?

    I much prefer the little shops, they carry more of their specialty then any big-box store ever could. The people employed in the small shops generally WANT to be working there as it is their shop. They know more about what they are selling, and you name it.

    Oh, and stop blaming China for their inferior products. Its the Capitalists that are importing that crap into North America knowing full well that its subpar materials. Risking health issues in our population all for the power of the all mighty buck.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    This is free trade?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Alex Hagen, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Hate Those French

    Those stupid French, I just hate them. They didn't even invent the French Fry, we should keep calling them Freedom Fries! I mean, first they didn't support the Iraq war, and if they had maybe Iraq would be a peaceful society right now.

    And now they have the gall to not be 100% capitalist. Damn communist bastards. All that free healthcare that is cheaper but better than the US, how dare they! And the gall they have to value their way of life over unrestricted commerce and place limits on booksellers to keep their pathetic little neighborhood shops in business, they do that just to piss off us correct thinking Americans.

    Maybe Amazon can sell them books about surrendering. (You like that joke? I came up with it all on my own, it's so funny!) I love picking on the French, it makes me fell all superior, and since I can't pick on Jews or blacks or other cultures without getting into trouble, it's nice to have one group I can be all prejudiced against in public and not be a social pariah.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    MB, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    My God, it is refreshing to see that the mother of all idiots is not dead and still gives birth to people like you.
    The constant cheap shots to French people is getting tiresome. Like Petrea Mitchell (Above..) was mentioning there are motivations behind this kind of regulations, not just in France. In the U.S. the price of the milk is regulated...(Law S. 2120), does that mean the US is turning into a form of socialism ? There are many aspects of the economy that needs to be controlled by a government, no matter where that it is, and depending on cultural,economical environment and corruption level...

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Hammurabi, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    cut em off

    They don't want free shipping. Gave them no shipping. Its such a stupid thing to do to a company that is obviously trying to get more customers by offering wanted services. Is there some kind of book monopoly in france that the gov't is now in charge of protecting?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    freak3dot, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    They Aren't Being Defient

    Amazon isn't being defient or clever in ther marketing. They just need time to update thier website to limit the free shipping promotion by country. This update could take all year.

    freak3dot

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    It's what they do best. Bahaha.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Calm down, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:24am

    Re: Typical Government

    "When was the last time you bought a book at an actual store and paid shipping, if ever" - Everytime you buy a book. B&M stores have a lot of overhead that e-retailers don't have to worry about, rent, warehouse space, employees to work the store etc, etc. And they do pay shipping to get the book from distributor to the store. Taht shipping cost is wrapped up into the retail markup that you pay. So yes, you pay shipping when you buy books from B&M stores.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Ayn Rand, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: Hate Those French

    "And now they have the gall to not be 100% capitalist"
    I assume that your post was intended to be sarcasm?
    Just in case, you do realize that the US is not even 100% capitalism right? If I missed the sarcasm, my apologies.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Me Again, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    @ MB "the price of the milk is regulated...(Law S. 2120), does that mean the US is turning into a form of socialism" - Yes it does. That is precisely what it means. You can argue whether that is good/bad/indifferent, but it is most decidedly a form of collective (socialist) socio-political economy.

    And I agre, the French basing is dumb, give it a rest. The French bashing post was not even close to being funny or creative in the least bit.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    yogi, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    to no. 8 comment - Petréa Mitchell

    Thanks for pointing me to that article from the Economist. It's really...wierd!!

    excerpt: "Controls must be “extremely severe” to ensure that the rules stick, explains Robert Geurts of the economics ministry, who glories in the title of director-general for regulation and organisation of the market. Inspectors receive many tips by telephone as rival shopkeepers denounce each other."

    I'm sorry, any way you look at it free markets are better than one bureaucrat (or a hundred) deciding for everybody else what's good and what isn't.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    does that mean the US is turning into a form of socialism

    Yes, it does.

    There are many aspects of the economy that needs to be controlled by a government

    Says who?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    JP, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    As some point out, there are 2 sides to this story. The goal of the French government here is to try and protect Mom and Pop bookstores. It's arguable, and I don't necessarily agree with it because it penalizes the consumer, but it's not as horrible and stupid as some of you imply here. As for the free market advocates here, look at how wonderful the US health care system is. I am overall for free markets, but it would be nice to acknowledge their limitations.
    Also, last time the French bashing folks were all up in arms about how dumb and coward the French were for not attacking disarmed Irak - guess who look dumb now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Hate Those French

    That post was dripping with sarcasm. But, I'm sure you knew that.


    Haha, I am hilarious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    Ah, the good old 'mom and pop shop' myth. You mean the mom and pop shops that paid minimum wage with no benefits? Or the mom and pop shop that jacked up their prices because they had no competition?

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but many of those mom and pop shops were closing well before Wal-Mart became a retailing juggernut.

    The hardware stores in Canada seem to be doing fine in the face of competition from Home Depot, Lowes and Rona. I recall reading that a bunch of hardware stores in Toronto saw an increase in business after a Home Depot opened up.

    You see, people went to Home Depot to buy the large items. But for the smaller items such as hammers, nails, screws, etc, they went to their local hardware store because it was more convenient and because they had store staff that would help them promptly.

     

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  28.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Where are the Lawyers?

    The shipping is not FREE. The shipping cost is $0.00.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    I love how people always blame Wal-mart for pushing out the mom and pop shops. Funny thing is that Wal-mart didn't do anything. The citizens of the town did. They are the ones that chose cheaper prices over quality products and customer service. I guess those just aren't as important these days.

    I personally prefer the small specialty stores as well because they can actually answer my questions. One person cannot keep a store in business. If everyone else shops at a big box than that small store isn't going to stand much of a chance. That's the power of the consumer.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    OK lets look at our health care. It costs far to much to do anything nowadays. Not because we have a free market but because we don't. Due to insane regulations requiring that all practicing doctors have expertise in all fields instead of letting them specialise, they have an artificial monopoly allowing them to charge outrageous prices. The Medical tech and software companies see how much they rake in so they intentionally charge more. (I'm in tech support for Dr offices) Since vary few people can keep up to the specifications needed for the software and hardware, they are allowed.

    This sounds familiar. Wasn't this in a previous techdirt article?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    bobknight, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 1:12pm

    To Socialist

    To Socialist, are you of the opine that you should be able to tell me where I should shop?
    If so please move to a place more suited to your tastes, cuba north korea.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Charlene, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 1:44pm

    Re:

    What's wrong with the US health care system? Most of the problems with it have to do with the insurance industry.

    --Charlene

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Can someone explain why

    Look at all of the mom-and-pop store owners who didn't go to thier City Council meeting to vote NO to allowing Wal-Mart a building permit, such as several different areas in California have done...

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Typical Government

    E-tailers don't have warehouses or employees? They don't have to pay for the book to ship to thier warehouse from the publisher? Really? Is it magic or what? You godds tell me how they run thier businesses then, I really wanna know.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Tech Support For Dr. Offices Means Nothing.

    My husband has provided tech support for almost every well-known doctor in this town. That doesn't mean he pays attention to thier billing practices, or could understand medical coding even if he did. People have to take classes in that, and it's friggin' complicated and hard. And why are you complaining about other people's inflated pricing? You were charging people for tech support while secretly sniping thier billing info...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    Re:

    funny..

    Thats hilarious..

    Almost as funny as the States somehow believing that they 'rescued' them.. I mean that's the one that kills me. Of course, the fresh blood of the soldiers, that came years after the war started. Hysterical I tell you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Typical Government

    E-tailers often do have that stuff, but not to the extent taht b&m stores do. The original statement was that retail stores don't have to pay shipping, tehrefore they are at some sort of competative advantage. B&M stores DO have to pay shipping and that cost is passed onto the customer. It just is not itemized on the receipt when you pay for it.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    wb, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 7:37pm

    french

    the french can well afford to pay for shipping.
    considering all the money they save by not
    buying soap.

    ps when walmart came to my town, all those
    little price gouging businesses all of a sudden
    got competitive.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Paul, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 9:10pm

    Charge for shipping

    Charge 0.01/order. The charge exists so it it not free. It is an insignificant amount = virtually free.

    Unless they are fighting a principal, the minimal cost ought to get round the issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    PopeRatzo, Jan 16th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    re: surrender this.

    more likely that the French will just surrender

    You are an idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Jan 16th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Typical Government

    E-tailers have to have the items shipped to them before they can ship the item to the customer, just as retailers have to have the item shipped to thier store before they call sell it to the customer. Retailers have taxes, e-tailers have shipping... I dunno, the differences aren't that big...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    jason, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Awesome amazon!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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