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.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Defiant Amazon Will Pay Fines Rather Than Give Up Free Shipping In France”

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42 Comments
Petréa Mitchell says:

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.)

MB says:

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…

Me Again says:

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.

ShadyJ says:

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!

Calm down says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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…

Socialist says:

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.

Vincent Clement says:

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.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

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.

Alex Hagen says:

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.

yogi says:

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.

JP says:

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.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: 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?

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: Re: 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…

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