An Amazon Holiday Boycott

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The holiday season is usually a time that Amazon.com’s sales see a significant jolt, along with most other stores.  However, this year, some are trying to prevent that from happening.  A group of UK consumers calling themselves  “Amazon Anonymous” have vowed to not shop at Amazon for the holiday season because of how Amazon purportedly treats their employees, dodges taxes, and harms local businesses.  This isn’t the first time Amazon has been accused of these transgressions, but to this point consumers haven’t exactly shied away from the online retailer’s products.  However. according to several reports, Amazon Anonymous’ campaign has continued to gained significant traction.  Their website, www.amazonanonymous.com, challenges shoppers to avoid Amazon and spend their money elsewhere. “Christmas is Amazon’s busiest time of year,” the website states, “but it’s also our best chance to disrupt their business. They don’t pay their workers a living wage, they dodge their tax, and they take money away from local shops. So this year, let’s take our money away from them.”  To date, the site reports that their group of consumers has prevented about $5 million from being spent at the retail giant to date. Each person who signs up for the Amazon Free Challenge pledges to withhold a minimum of $150.  It is difficult, however, to quantify what Amazon is losing in sales, as it is impossible to tell if these people would actually have spent money at Amazon in the first place.  Although, this same group delivered a petition with 65,000 signatures calling for a living wage to Amazon’s London offices earlier this year.  This situation bears watching, as it if it were to gain more traction this may require Amazon to respond, whether publicly or otherwise, to Amazon Anonymous’ accusations.

2 thoughts on “An Amazon Holiday Boycott

  1. Is Amazon different from its competitors in such practices?
     
    To tie to IO, what are the corporate governance issues? How would one go about influencing policy at Amazon? Can you get an item onto the shareholder proxy statement? Can you lobby the company’s directors directly? Or do directors view it as part of their fiduciary duty to screw the US government and all of us who dutifully pay taxes, because it improves their bottom line? That is do profits trump ethics, as long as Amazon sticks to the white/grey end of the legal spectrum?

  2. I think Amazon’s apparent transgressions are the root of their business model. They differentiate themselves by being large enough to carry any product, offering the fastest shipping, the lowest prices, and the greatest selection. Further, their review system, one-click purchasing and high satisfaction rates are costly. Amazon is hardly profitable now, of course they dodge taxes- in some sense they feel entitled to by providing consumers a most comfortable and efficient shopping experience. Amazon employees are worked hard for consumers and the company harms local businesses because they are better at retailing. To fight Amazon on these counts is to reject how they’ve differentiated themselves as a superior retailer. If people don’t want to shop at Amazon, I feel as though it’s no loss to them. Go pay more for the same products from the same suppliers who, in all likelihood, treat their employees poorly and tax dodge as well. It isn’t Amazon these people have a problem with, it’s capitalism.

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