Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Boycott Amazon' campaign launched

19.12.12 | Lisa Campbell - The Bookseller

The Ethical Consumer magazine and campaign group has launched a campaign to persuade customers to choose high street alternatives to Amazon for their Christmas shopping, following revelations of the company's tax avoidance.

Amazon's low payment of corporation tax on its sales in the UK in 2011 has received high-profile press attention. Ethical Consumer is calling on customers to boycott the company and find high street tax-paying alternatives.
Recommended department stores to shop at which pay a fair amount of tax are Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next.

Ethical Consumer director Tim Hunt said: "We're launching the boycott of Amazon in response to the public's growing anger at the scale of Amazon'stax avoidance. By naming these tax-paying alternatives to Amazon we aim to mobilise consumer power to make Amazon pay a fair rate of tax. Shoppers maybenefit from Amazon's cheap shopping but these bargains come at the cost of reduced public services. Amazon's tax revenues could help fund the vital public services that are now being slashed."

Tax Justice campaigner Richard Murphy from Tax Research UK added: "Consumer action works. Starbucks is caving in. People denying their credit cards to Amazon is the sure way to make them pay their tax. The Wise Men celebrated the good news of the first Christmas with gifts they brought from afar. This year Wise People will celebrate Christmas by not buying gifts from Amazon."

Mark Constantine, m.d. and co-founder of Lush Cosmetics, has also added his name to the campaign, accusing Amazon of being "ruthless" in taking advantage of weaknesses in its interpretation of tax law. "This creates a financial advantage that they may use to discount any product and outcompete retailers who are making a contribution to British society," he said.
According to figures published by the Commons Public Accounts Committee in 2011 Amazon's UK sales were £2.9bn but the company only paid £1.8m in corporation tax.


Mark Hubbard said...

Great idea here. I've got my placard, and I'm off to protest outside my local supermarket for them to raise the price of all their goods, especially the essential staple dietary items, so they can be good corporate citizens and pay more tax.

Um, wait a minute ... ;)

Graham Beattie said...

I think you miss the point Mark but then you and I will never agree on this subject. I greatly enjoy going into Unity Books and Matakana Village Bookshop, and other indie bookshops too, most weeks, browsing, often but not always buying. If, like you, everyone bought their books from Amazon then of course there would be no bookshops and the world would be a poorer place, although you of course would have a few more dollars in your wallet.

Mark Hubbard said...

I do understand that argument, Graham, but times are a changing: I say I love bookshops, et al, but I never go to one anymore. It's not just I don't like cities, or even a conscious thing; more that I buy all my (e)books about midnight, in bed, on my iPad, when I've finished the last ebook, and I'm probably buying more ebooks than I ever had books because of that.

I love physical books, yet my library remains lonely in a house in Christchurch: apparently I didn't love those books enough to go get them out yet, and put them where I live.

I think ebooks have taught me what I really love, is just reading books :)

And yes, I differ with much of the book community in my views, but I'll always take voluntarism over state coercion, and taxes are where the rubber meets the road of the modern police state. But more than that: a protest to raise taxes paid, is ultimately always a protest to raise the price a consumer pays, if you apply it to books, then you must apply the principle to everything, including food.

(Getting really busy for me to clear the Xmas bottle neck, so just in case I miss the Xmas post, thanks for another great year on the book blog, and have a great festive season. Look forward to keeping up in the New Year)

Oh, when someone invents efood, I'll be on the barricades alright; and on your side :)

Mark Hubbard said...

Forgot to add one thing (well, two).

My argument is the best way for the local bookshops to compete is not for a government to try and beat Amazon's lawyers, but to bring taxes for local business down until Amazon has no tax advantage. Of course I want the bookshops to survive, and I certainly don't want to see Amazon take a monopoly position which its doing currently by game playing regulation (that's the problem with regulation: it advantages the bigger well-resourced companies).

The second point is to say none of this is about money, to me. I consider my lineage to go back to the 60's peaceniks: that is, the voluntary society, which can only be based on the voluntary capitalist transaction. And that's the most important thing the medium of money allows.

But all that is just me politicking now, and I always do my best to keep that off your blog. Just couldn't help myself this post :)

Tui Allen said...

Is there real proof that Amazon is really avoiding taxes? Or is it just sour grapes from all the booksellers who are losing out to them? I don't know this myself so am keen to hear about the evidence.

I am an author whose book is only for sale on Amazon. If you boycott Amazon you boycott me. my income is lost.

Amazon willingly distributes my book internationally in print and e-book form. Because of them, people are reading it all over the world. No other bookshop or publisher would do that.

E-books are the only way I read now. I live in the country half an hour's drive from the nearest bookshop or library. Asking me to give up Amazon is asking me to give up reading.