Amazon Taking On French Law

Paying Fines Of $1,500 A Day

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[ Business]

Online retailer Amazon.com will pay 1,000 euros ($1,500) a day in fines in order to offer free shipping in France while it appeals a December court ruling that made the practice illegal.


Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, sent an email to customers of its French Web site stating Amazon will continue to offer free shipping while waiting for the outcome of the appeal.

"As amazing as this seems, free shipping by Amazon.fr is under threat," Bezos wrote in an email. "France could be the only country in the world where Amazon’s free delivery offer would be illegal."

The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Versailles, awarded a French bookseller’s syndicate 100,000 euros and told Amazon to charge for shipping. The group said that Amazon’s free shipping violated the 1981 Lang law, which sets minimum prices for books sold in France.  The court ruled that if the cost of Amazon’s free shipping reduced the price of a book more than the 5 percent allowed by law, then the sale violated the law.

Amazon has to pay the fine for 30 days if it continues to violate the court order, at which point the court can extend the fine, lower it or raise it. Amazon began paying the fine about five days ago, said Xavier Garambois, general director of Amazon.fr. "We are completely committed to fighting this," Garambois said.

Bezos’s email encouraged customers to sign an online petition supporting free delivery and linked to a Web site to debate the French law.

Amazon Taking On French Law
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