Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Amazon To Cock-Block Local Businesses This Holiday Season

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 11:01 AM

The latest weapon in Amazons war on your local economy
  • The latest weapon in Amazon's war on your local economy
If you're one of those mythical "mom and pop" small businesses often bandied about by politicians on the campaign trail, well, maybe it's time for mom to seriously consider turning tricks and for pop to study the ol' fire insurance policy: Internet instant gratification behemoth Amazon is telling hopeful consumers to go into local retailers and photograph inventory prices in exchange for a paltry 5 percent discount (up to $5) on Amazon-equivalent products.

According to Gawker:

To get the $5 discount, you're supposed to use Amazon's "Price Check" iPhone and Android app to scan in the bar code of an item and then indicate what price the item is being sold at. This gives Amazon valuable intelligence on how various retailers are pricing various items. "We scour online and in-store advertisements from other retailers, every day, year-round," an Amazon director said on All Things D. But now Amazon won't have to work so hard in the future, since hordes of consumers will (theoretically) sell out the merchants who pump sales taxes into their localities with sales taxes, all to save a measly five bones.

What makes this shrewd strategy all the more egregious — aside from the obvious "fuck you" to brick-and-mortar stores where people already earn their livelihood — is that Gov. Bill Haslam recently cut a deal with Amazon to give the company two years' worth of online sales tax exemptions in an economic hostage negotiation over a proposed Tennessee distribution center. If that deal sounds about as upstanding as a Sicilian promise, it's because it is: Forbes magazine recently reported that such dealings potentially violate the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

In September, former Scene editor Liz Garrigan pointed out the inherent nastiness of Amazon's strong-arm tactics:

Tennessee risks losing $3 billion in tax revenue to you, not to mention 10,000 jobs, over the next five years. And that's not counting the money the state has spent out of its own tattered pockets to entice you here: Chattanooga alone gave you $30 million in incentives and free land — which the state spent $4 million to prepare for construction — in exchange for 1,200 full-time and 2,000 seasonal jobs.

Not that this abusive relationship is unique to Tennessee. You've sent South Carolina, Texas and California into similar states of impotent rage because you have no trouble exploiting the realities of the nation's dismal economy, reducing governors and mayors to desperate employment pimps. You've had them, after all, where you've wanted them. And you threaten to take your ball and go home should they fail to play by your rules.

Happy holidays, we guess.

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