Government Idiocy, French-Style
Do you think any customer would turn down free shipping? Of course not. Yet the French courts have ruled that Amazon.com must charge its customers for shipping. Why? Because other booksellers have complained that it makes them look expensive by comparison. Well, duh!
The problem here isn’t that Amazon offers free shipping, but rather that French law restricts product discounting. The answer to the problem isn’t to pull the plug on Amazon, but rather to give other booksellers the flexibility they need to operate their businesses in a competitive manner.
When you look at the actions of France and other European government, it is a wonder that American companies choose to participate in those markets at all. In some cases, the volume is simply enough to endure the pain and suffering the regulations over there cause, but smaller, more innovative companies will likely be loathe to put up with it.
Yet another example of why regulation stifles innovation.
FNAC, Amazon’s main French competitor, still doesn’t charge anything for books, and books only, provided that they are sent to a French address. But I suppose that this may change in view of this recent decision. Independent bookstores are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with e-commerce.
I sell my used books through a second-hand website and the buyer pays for the postage, which seems reasonable. When people need the convenience of having something delivered to their door, they are used to pay for it. Maybe not so in America, but this is not America.
Putting it all to government is too easy. There are huge commercial interests in this, and Amazon will lose nothing by charging postage (as they did until last year, if I remember correctly). Don’t forget that Amazon Marketplace charges fees, per item, not per order. That is quite not right for the consumer, either.
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