Amazon.fr’s Free Shipping Condemned
Free shipping is so nice – you know what you’re getting into from the start, with no surprises at the final checkout screen. The French may see some last-minute additions to their book orders, however, as a court has ruled that Amazon.fr must charge for deliveries.
This wasn’t done with any anti-consumer motive – the court is merely trying to protect traditional bookstores that might have trouble competing against Amazon’s prices. Still, the ruling isn’t at all in line with most modern economic theories, and may not have the desired effect.
Peter Sayer reports that Amazon.fr has been hit with a $147,000 fine, and, if it continues to offer free shipping, will get dinged an additional $1,470 per day. Amazon could easily see these small amounts as “worth it,” though, and continue its business as usual. And even if Amazon.fr does end its free shipping practice, customers may stay loyal.
After all, ordering books from Amazon is often as much a matter of convenience as it is a money saver. Since all other French booksellers would have similar prices, there’d be no reason for anyone to abandon the company. In the end, Amazon might even make more money than usual.
Meh. Unless something drastic happens, Amazon.com’s operations will remain unaffected, regardless.