Amazon’s December 10th “Price Check Day” offered customers up to three 5% discounts (of no more than $5 each) for using Amazon’s mobile app to scan and report product prices from brick-and-mortar stores. This is a clear move to propel the trend of show rooming, where shoppers find products first in-store, then purchase them at a discount online.
The announcement of the promotion sent independent booksellers into an outrage. Amazon is flaunting its state sales tax evasion that makes it impossible for tax-obligated brick-and-mortar bookstores to compete with Amazon’s pricing (see this statement from the Retail Industry Leaders Association). MobyLives identified this as Amazon taking “its standard of predation to a whole new level.”
As reported by Johnathan Easely for The Hill, Senator Olympia Snowe, the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, called for Amazon to cancel the predatory promotion: “Small businesses are fighting every day to compete with giant retailers, such as Amazon, and incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops is a bridge too far.” Amazon has made no response to Snowe, and seemingly intends to launch the app internationally.
Unfortunately, there appears to be little consumer awareness of or concern for Amazon’s tax evasion and illegal predation practices, as the comments in this article at The Verge illustrate: “People wouldn’t use physical stores as showrooms if they’d price it decently; overhead my behind.”
The funny thing? Though the indie book world was the first to speak out against it, the Price Check discount didn’t actually apply to books. Regardless, Price Check Day has brought much needed attention to Amazon’s unethical practices, which I hope will ignite further action against them.