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Is It Time To Occupy Amazon Yet?

The Sabers Are Rattling, But Will Anyone Listen

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Is It Time To Occupy Amazon Yet?
[ Business]

People are very, very unhappy with Amazon right now. First there was the conniving endorsement of that new online tax bill. Now Amazon has thrown the first spear in what looks to be a looming battle with brick and mortar retailers by launching a Price Check app that encourages shoppers to walk out of stores and, instead, buy items from Amazon.

Much to the chagrin of, well, everybody but Amazon, the app works like this: suppose you’re in a brick and mortar store and plan to purchase an item from the retailer. Instead of following through with that, Amazon would have you use the Price Check app to enter the barcode of the item and then purchase it from Amazon; in turn, Amazon will give you a discount of up to $5. You can use the app for 3 purchases, meaning a total savings of up to $15. The app can only be used starting at 9PM tonight through 11:59PM tomorrow night, December 10.

It’s a shifty maneuver to snatch away money that would otherwise likely be spent at the brick and mortar store and essentially uses the retailer as a showroom for Amazon’s inventory. The Retailer Industry Leaders Association has already come out against the app in force and now the chorus of organizations and people decrying Amazon’s tactics are getting louder. Yesterday, the American Booksellers Association joined the protest against Amazon’s attempt to literally entice consumers to walk out of brick and mortar stores without spending a dime.

In an open letter to Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, ABA CEO Oren Teicher calls out the Amazon chief on his forked-tongue statements about fairness with regard to online commerce and accuses Amazon of knowingly exploiting the tax loophole to its advantage. Teicher goes on to shame Amazon for chipping away at the foundations of local communities by “stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.”

Despite books not being included in the selected items eligible for the discount that the Price Check app offers, that the booksellers should take up the charge against Amazon contains historical and poetic significance. After all, they’ve been the retailers struggling against the online company the longest (if you remember, Amazon started out proclaiming itself as “Earth’s Largest Bookstore” in the 1990s). They’ve probably lost the most revenue to Amazon over the years and therefore probably have the most authority to speak out against Amazon’s latest plot to take business away from brick and mortar retailers.

In addition to the booksellers’ opposition to Amazon’s tactics, an online petition was created yesterday on change.org that denounces Amazon’s poaching of customers from brick-and-mortar stores. Within a day, the letter has already gathered over 20% of it’s signatures goal. Say what you want about the efficacy of online petitions because it’s not a matter of whether it works – it indicates that people are paying attention.

The momentum of the anti-Amazon sentiment appears to be growing today. People have begun to marshall behind the Occupy movement to profess their anger and demand for change to Amazon’s predatory business strategy. There is an Occupy Amazon page on Facebook imploring consumers to boycott Amazon tomorrow – the time period in which the Price Check app will be live – and choose to shop locally instead. A steady stream of supporters are gathering on Twitter with the hashtag #occupyamazon. Here’s a sample of what people are saying:

Thinking #Amazon overstepped w/this one. Can’t be a good sign when you’ve suddenly got an #Occupy hashtag… http://t.co/2Luqg3fN 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Love this topic from Kindleboards: Fellow Indies, It’s Time To Rise Up And Answer The Call. Occupy Amazon! 2 days ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

#occupyamazon Don’t use the Amazon Price Check App! 17 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone · powered by @socialditto

I support Occupy Amazon protest. RT @PublishersWkly: Amazon Backlash Continues to Build http://t.co/11fsXWVE #occupyamazon 1 hour ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

This made me cry with pride at my amazing fellow indies http://t.co/ociY4AxX #occupyamazon #IndieLove #indiebooksellersrock 1 day ago via Twitter for iPad · powered by @socialditto

Let Amazon know with your credit card that you don’t support this nasty attack on local businesses #OccupyAmazon http://t.co/Cok6uTFR 1 day ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

What happens from here remains to be seen. Amazon doesn’t exactly have a physical space in which protesters can occupy, so how this unfolds tomorrow (and in the future) will be interesting. In a contrast to previous Occupy efforts, will consumers choose to benevolently occupy their local retailers tomorrow for the forces of communal good? Chime in with what you think about the latest development among people speaking out against Amazon in the comments below.

Note: Credit to Jon Stitch at Diesel Bookstore for the creation of the above Occupy Amazon buttons.

Is It Time To Occupy Amazon Yet?
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  • Jacky Liang

    What do you mean “People are very, very unhappy with Amazon right now.” I think most people are very happy about this. Your people are not our people.

  • Henry

    I have to say, I don’t get this. Amazon is a replacement for Walmart, not Standard Bakery. The fact is, if you re-sell marked up hard goods from Asia, the bell has been tolling for you for a while. Buying local is only sustainable if there’s real value in doing so, whether that’s service, price, or availability of better (or distinct) product.

    Put another way, here in Portland, ME, local is massive, and I really, really do not give a crap where my toaster oven and cable ties come from. Beer? Yes. Jewelery? Yes. Textiles? Whenever possible. But I’m not supporting some Don Quixote attack on trinkets from China.

    The flipside is, where’s the #OccupyGroupon movement? THERE’S a dot-com that’s killing small businesses that I actually care about, but hey LOOK i got a $15 for $30 on my iphone let’s all go get free scones.

    • Nicole

      Henry! Exactly!
      Didn’t the item get in the hands of the “first” resellers for a few quarters in the first place? And they are complaining about $5? Hypocritical if you ask me. They can’t just talk about the local businesses losing money without looking at where the “problem” actually starts.

      Pay the little Chinese boys 10 more cents an hour and it will even out that $5

  • Heidi Pickman

    Help stop Amazon’s $5 attack against small biz. Tell them to withdraw the “promo”
    SIGN The PETITION! http://chn.ge/s3JyrS

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steven

    I think I recall a price comparison app for the phone being a big flop in the past. People hated to have to scan every single item they were thinking of buying to find out the savings would be minor and the wait time would be huge in comparison. So for the discount I can see people using it for 3 items and then deleting the app. Besides, most of the time the savings are offset by the shipping charges or the wait time to get your item in the mail. I could see a store being out of an item and you could scan the shelf tag and have it shipped to you. I could see a place like Vons doing that where they already offer delivery.

  • rich graham

    Crybabies. If Amazon has it cheaper, I’m buying at Amazon. If mom n pop want to compete with Amazon, then they’re free to do so.

    At my local Fry’s, I can pull up an identical item on Amazon and Fry’s will sell for that price. Beats having to wait on shipping.

    Consumer Win!

    • Decency

      Rich reveals the sentiment of the average consumer: I should not be asked to pay more for an item than it can be found selling for anywhere else in the world.

      This is benign, neither good nor bad. It just is. It is the consumer zealously acting in his own self interest.

      However, it is also a natural hypocrisy. Ask someone like Rich if he should be paid at his job the lowest rate that anyone else in the world can be found doing the same job for. Rich’s sentiment will change.

      We all naturally believe we should be paid more for our own time than we are getting, while simultaneously believing that the person whose time we’re paying for should work for less (ahem, you brick & mortar stores should all take salary cuts to compete with Amazon?)

      Consumers are too short-term oriented. A world where Amazon wins is a short-term boost in choice and lower price, but when the quality providers are driven out of the marketplace, choice contracts, quality falls, and whole industries die because without a local provider that helps to attract and educate new people in an area of interest, that area of interest dies.

      But none of this means anything to most in a society that has an increasingly insatiable addiction to instant gratification and instant annoyance when “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t care if someone else starve providing it to me” cannot be met.

      • http://www.agenceelysium.com Agence Elysium

        Finally someone who gets it.

        Where the product is made in, whether it’s sold at Amazon or at a local store is not the subject. I’d rather buy a cheap slave product from the local store for 5$ more instead of Amazon. Why?

        First, small/medium local businesses are the ones who make a healthy economy. They’re the ones that create jobs, while the big multinationals keep on cutting jobs in order to keep that profit graph stable.

        Second, they don’t just sell cheap made-in-china products, they’re the ones that also sell local products.

        Paying that extra 5$ will improve your living standard in the long term. Don’t be a cheap self-centered consumer. Economy is like Karma, it will always come back on you.

        • A guy

          Did you seriously just post that Amazon is *cutting* jobs??

  • Patrick Swickheimer

    In addition to their “Price Check App”, one must be aware of the labor practices at Amazon warehouses. They hire alternating MASS WAVES of people and terminate those who are not up to a pre-determined (replaced by newer mass waves of people), artificial “rate”. Working within their facility(ies) is reminiscent of being within the walls of a prison. You are worked nearly to exhaustion and your break times are cut short so you can transport yourself around the massive warehouse and through security. Additionally, Amazon.com does not have taxes assessed on their goods. States are losing out to this lost tax revenue!

  • http://handymanlaunchpad.com Robert

    Why order from Amazon, pay the shipping, and wait for arrival, when you have the very item IN YOUR HAND?

    I don’t see this becoming popular.

  • http://www.keepitpersonal.co.uk Andy From Keep It Personal Gifts

    Shops in the UK are adding there own barcodes to products apparently to prevent people finding the equivalent online for cheaper!

  • http://occupyamazon.us Occupy Amazon

    Please go and like face book page for occupy amazon.

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