Brits are so outraged by Amazon,
Brits are so outraged by UK Tax laws, but that's the Governments fault not Amazon.
Amazon is the best for online shopping according to Brits snapping up Christmas gifts. Judging from a survey of roughly 10,000 folks, this year's outcry over the web bazaar's tax chicanery has had little or no effect the US giant's popularity among shoppers. Amazon.co.uk's cheap prices and brutally functional design landed it …
We are not talking about artificial shell companies.
Amazon sell throughout Europe and, because of EU treaties, it only has to pay tax in one jurisdiction. There is nothing the UK tax office can do about it.
> France seems able to go after the money so it can't be an EU problem.
France ignores any EU treaty/law it wants to. The last time a survey was done (can't find the link at the moment) about how the different countries implemented EU laws, the UK came top and France was near the bottom with Germany only slightly better. This is why France and Germany are happy to enact any EU rules and regulations. They simply ignore them whilst those who abide by them are disadvantaged.
I'm not outraged by the tax they pay, if they paid more tax things would be expensive, as such I would buy fewer things resulting in a loss sales for someone, somewhere, when multiplied by the whole nation that probably takes a lot of money out of some other companies wallet resulting in fewer jobs and fewer people spending money to cover a National budget we've very rarely been able to afford.
Also tax for a large part is an infinite pit of waste and inefficiency anyway..
If anyone really gave a toss, we'd scrap our nuclear capacity, get rid of most of the navy, scrap most of the RAF, stop spending money on magic bullet solutions to problems that don't exist, tax cannabis, slash our debts, invest more in services, make the trains work, build a third runway at Heathrow, build more nuclear and geothermal power plants, build water reclamation plants in London, put more money into R&D and generally get on with life.
Anyway, multinational companies are todays bogey men. I'm sure we'll have a new one tomorrow.
And because they sell this (normally) free ebook - Pay Your Taxes! for 77p more than smashwords do?
Indeed - it's easy to forget to look around at alternatives once in a while. Someone at work pledged to do all of their Christmas shopping within their postcode (I'm assuming she meant just the first part rather than the whole postcode [unless she lives on a high street]).
The problem is that in many towns there is no source for cds/dvds oputside of the narrow range that Tesco etc stock. Having killed off Woolies and the indys they then slashed the range so there is almost no choice available - creating another often unmentioned reason for falling sales - no impulse buys - but that is forgotten about in the hysteria about piracy
For me the best thing is their support. They have managed to grow to a massive faceless corporation without giving you the feeling you're unimportant. When things are late or missing they overnight a replacement without interrogating you, etc.
Once they sent me 2 of the same book although I had only ordered the one. I rang them and returned it (no charge) because it was not mine to keep. I was very surprised that they insisted on giving me £5 credit for doing what was just right. I even explained that I am not doing it expecting a prize for doing what is right.
Amazon have always given me good service above and beyond. Do I have the same opinion of any of the public services? No.
And as amazon didnt break the law they shouldnt have any problems over tax. Only the greedy would demand more than agreed.
Here we go again......
X super market killed off Wollies,
Y supermarket killed of the independant reatiler.
NO THEY DID NOT!
Customer choosing X supermarket over Y shop killed them off.
Sorry, but my local Tesco offers more than the entire High street combined, it's open 24 hours and is cheaper.
I buy from my local butcher because the meats are way better than the supermarkets and not much more expensive, I buy my fruit and veg from the supermarkets, becuase the grocers fruit and veg is far more expensive and crap.
So it's consumer choice that kills of the other shops, not the shops themselves.
Indeed, people seem to have this weird memory that the high street was good, it wasn't, it was crap. You could barely move, none of the shops had anything you ever particularly wanted, their ranges tended to be limited and uninteresting, their fresh produce tended to be older and less likely to be edible, you had to lug your crap from shop to shop (which were all invariably full of other people doing the same thing) in rubbish plastic bags, they were only open when you were at work except on Saturdays which is why they were always full, the service was generally terrible, the shops were generally grubby, you didn't have any other choice, for a country where it rains so much there wasn't any cover so you were always bloody wet so, am I sad the high street of old is dying off? No. It was crap.
God forbid we have towns that have character and a high street that shows them apart.
The strange thing is, pretty much every green grocers, veg/fruit market and butchers I have seen have actually been cheaper than Tescos, often by a long shot. People don't seem to realise this as it has always been drummed into them that the supermarkets are always cheapest.
Also, the range of clothes, DVDs, music etc. is pretty abysmal.
Exactly. High streets are for people who love shopping [mostly females in my experience]. For those of us for whom a shopping trip is about as appealing as having root canal work without anaesthetic, online shopping is a godsend:
Browse at leisure without some spotty oik on commission hovering behind you asking if you "need any help?" Compare prices without having to walk from shop to shop. No hordes of fuckwitts devoid of any spacial awareness whatsoever getting in your way. No humping bags and boxes to/from carparks or bus stops. Just click and wait for it to turn up.
As regards the tax avoidance issue; if I thought for a minute that Amazon et al coughing up their fair share would reduce my own tax bill by even a penny, I'd be as irate as the Daily Fail about it. But seeing as it wouldn't and would probably leave me worse off as they'd just raise their prices to compensate, then my attitude must perforce remain a resounding "meh..."
The state of the high streets is partly due to competition from online retailers like Amazon and partly due to greedy car-hating councils who have set business rates to ridiculous levels, closed off roads to cars, painted double yellow lines outside the shops and set extortionate rates for parking. Why would anyone bother to buy something in person in a high street store when the parking charges are the same as delivery to their door?
This year I checked peoples Amazon wishlists and bought elsewhere, using the handy "Bought this somewhere else" feature of wishlists to try to make my point known.
It's been painful - many items on Amazon can't be found elsewhere, or are at much higher prices. Delivery times have been poor, and tracking orders a pain.
In conclusion, I'd be happy to pay 10-20% more for goods from Amazon for the convenience and quality of service.
"This year I checked peoples Amazon wishlists and bought elsewhere"
FFS why? You go on to admit what a bad experience it was to not use Amazon, and how it cost more, why would anybody in their right mind do that? Amazon comply with the laws of the land, if you aren't happy with that outcome then take it up with the inept, lazy shysters of Westminster. Why beat yourself up over the fuck-ups of government?
Alternatively, if you do really want to pay their tax, then the net margin is about 3% of sales, of which 24% would be corporation tax, so rather than paying "10-20%" extra,just send a cheque for about 1% of your Amazon purchases directly to Osborne. I'm sure he'll spend it wisely.
Bricks and mortar still seem to have some additional flexibility: HMV stores have some nice deals on box sets that I can't find online. That's handy for an ex-pat like me stocking up while I'm over.
Amazon has been very successful in getting itself mentioned as the website for online shopping. The media are just lazy in quoting prices from it as opposed to other services. In Germany I think most consumer electronics bought online come from specialist shops with better service and lower prices.
I remember searching for an SD Card for my camera. £25 at Currys (apparently 10% off), £12 at Amazon.
I understand overheads for retailers as I used to work for a retailer (non electrical), but still you don't have to take the p*ss out of your customer. It just offends them.
But if Amazon did oblige to pay taxes, would pay that little more?
Still, the service is good.
I'm sorry, I have to call you out on that, I don't care how moral a person is the simple fact of the matter is – If the government sends you two tax bills, one double the other and then says ‘pick one to pay, we don’t care which’. No one, not one single person, is going to pick the one at twice the price. Why would you; civic responsibility, some sort of vague moral implication that you have to “do what is right” or pay your way in society? I don’t think anyone, let alone a multinational corporation would be so naive.
What can I say ? They are competitive. The way they have changed their site should be a lesson to all. Incremental upgrades. Useful features rather than flash. And the product descriptions, reviews and discussions all help to give you a feeling that you are empowered and informed. I've never had a problem with them - simple as that.
The nice feature of "people who looked at ..." and "people who bought..." and "Other things people bought ..." is incredibly useful to allow you to weigh up between different models and features.
The only improvement I can think of would be the ability to add an item to your wishlist from a search list, rather than having to click on it first.
Amazon is a shining example of how to do Web 2.0 incredibly well.
is to believe what people say rather than what they do.
I'm sure a lot of the population would prefer companies pay more tax - just so long as that doesn't lead to those same people being charged more for the goods they buy. So when faced with the choice between buying from a "good" company or a cheap one, most people will let their wallets lead the way.
This is no different from all the wailing holidaymakers who vow never to fly on RyanAir (again), yet join the queue to squeeze their carry-on into that airlines bag-check frames every year.
Talk is cheap, web chatter is cheaper still, yet none is as cheap or fleeting as pontifications over what's moral, or right.
That sounds like a false economy to me, buy from company A which is cheap but pays no corp-tax rather than B which does pay corp-tax so is a little more expensive, okay, maybe more than a little as it's a tax on profit. Because you bought from A the taxman is getting less tax into the public purse so has to find revenue from somewhere else, which means the customer ends up forking out more in tax elsewhere to make up the tax not being paid by company B. So it looks like the choice is we (the consumer) pay more tax or the company pays more tax, which is more palatable to you, higher prices or higher tax?
It may not seem like much, £15m here, £20m there, but if enough of the top performing companies perform this tax avoidance then it'll quickly add up to billions in lost taxation which means everyone is paying more tax because the treasury is a few billion short of where it could be.
Right, so by that argument either the corporations put their prices up and pay the tax, or the lost revenue is taxed directly to the the population via VAT or some such means to compensate. Prices or tax. Rip off Britain or a bloodthirsty HMRC.
We're going to be paying it one way or another no matter what terminology you dress it up in.
You've got that first part very wrong. Amazon's corporation tax avoidance is worth perhaps 1% or less of gross sales. At that level it isn't sufficient to make a difference to most customers, who will choose to pay a premium to the right companies - the john Lewis premium can be quite high, but it illustrates the point, as does the fact that any web search will reveal companies undercutting Amazon, but that I wouldn't trust in a month of Sundays.
At an aggregate level you've got a more valid point (this probably amounts to £5bn to £10bn at a UK level across all companies), but even then the real problem is not £10bn a year of tax avoided (in line with our treaty commitments), but the fact that the government continue to spend £10bn a month more than they get in.
Sorting corporation tax out to the satisfaction of the armchair judges is all very well, but in the bigger picture we still have a huge budgetary deficit that nothing has been done about.
"The bargain-basement airline appeared to perform badly across the board, but slightly worse in its functionality, travel options available and choice of flights on offer. The biz was not available for comment at time of writing."
Admit it, they tried to charge you a £5 "comment processing fee" didn't they...
This whole not paying tax issue is a red herring and designed to divert attention away from the fact the government can do nothing about it. It is a by product of being part of the EU common market where to retain company headquarters you need to make it attractive for them to be in your country. The 1% tax rate that the Netherlands gave Amazon is the reason why they are there.
What is wrong is using internal cross charging at extortionate rates (i.e. above market rates) that are designed to suck any profit from one location to another where tax rates are more favourable.
If people want this to change then we have to accept harmonisation of tax rates to remove the race to the bottom tax rate. The companies themselves are doing nothing wrong and are complying with the tax rules in force.
PS if you work for a multi-national company in this country then you are working for a company that is using the same tax rules as Amazon, Starbucks and Google, if they pay more tax you might not get a pay rise this year.
"What is wrong is using internal cross charging at extortionate rates (i.e. above market rates) that are designed to suck any profit from one location to another where tax rates are more favourable."
This is where the problem lies. If smaller companies or one-man bands try the same trick of declaring almost no profit on UK sales and pay their taxes in Eire or the Netherlands, HMRC would say it was a tax dodge and act accordingly. It seems that larger companies escape, largely because they have more expensive lawyers than the rest of us.
What is wrong is using internal cross charging at extortionate rates (i.e. above market rates) that are designed to suck any profit from one location to another where tax rates are more favourable.
There are very clear, and fairly strict laws in place to deal with transfer pricing. They are enforced ineffectually or not at all, and THAT is the reason that many of these companies are able to claim that they trade continuously at a loss in the UK. If the government had any sort of balls they'd tell the likes of Starbucks that all their UK subsidiaries would be wound up in fourteen days due to the risk of insolvent trading.
That'd concentrate a few minds.
Originally got an account with Amazon back in 98 but stopped using them last year after a particularly poor customer service experience.
Unlike JDX @ 13:34 they flatly refused to send a replacement camera lens that I'd ordered from them that their Chitylink implant depot lost.
Lens was over £1K and despite numerous emails and conversations they were not interested in issuing a refund for over 10 days. They also weren't interested in restoring my faith in their services so I've taken my business elsewhere.
That may have been their way back then but I've had to return two broken camera bodies and claim on one lost cheap flashgun and each time Amazon were fine, they couldn't do enough to help me get it sorted. I especially like their callback service so if it's going to be a long call you don't foot the bill unlike some companies who simply use support calls as a money spinner rather than actually sorting problems out!
Amazon sent a Canon camera body ( just over £1K ) and the penta-prism and mirror simply fell out inside the body during transit, 2 days before I was due to fly out on holiday. Amazon arranged for a courier to be outside my door on the Saturday morning at 9am, 3 hours before we were due to leave, replacement body delivered and took the old one taken back.
I don't blame them for paying minimum tax, it's not fair but who's fault's that? The politicians are so hypocritical, they wanted these cushy tax laws for them and their mates and then that act all surprised when other huge companies use the same laws.
The key difference between the perception of Starbucks and Amazon is to do with the benefits to the consumer.
Amazon is likely up to the same tax tricks as Starbucks, but to the consumer at least they 'win' because the goods sold by Amazon are far cheaper than high street and other online competitors (And delivered free to your door). So while they might be diddling the tax man to some extent, there is a perceived upside to the man on the street.
Compare that to Starbucks, who are diddling the tax man AND charging you a fortune for their (in my opinion, burnt) coffee. There is no perceived upside here, and it's not surprising that people are annoyed by their behaviour.
.. and it's not the tax issue - imho everybody and every organisation is entitled to arrange their affairs so as legally to minimise the tax they pay.
No, the issue which really gets my goat is the inability to know or to choose in advance who delivers your parcels. If I'm not in when the Post Office delivers then I can nip to my local post office and pick the parcel up. If I'm not in when City Link (fails to) deliver then I can take a 100 mile round trip to their depot in the next county - no thanks. The new Amazon locker option helps, but there are certain things that can't be delivered to a locker.
Other organisations make it clear who their delivery partners are so you can avoid buying from the ones whose couriers are the least helpful. I'd like it if I were able to decline to purchase an item from Amazon on the basis of who was going to deliver the package.
Under our tree, 70% of the parcels arrived from Amazon.
I bought everything from Amazon because I had access to the free Prime trial offer (as well as being able to find what I though people might want) which meant free next day delivery for everything. Which came in handy as I'd left it late this year.
Still it would be nice if Mr Bezos added his name here:
Merry Christmas all
Most of us a pissed off at the government for one reason or another. Most of us think at some point "if there was a legal way for me to stop paying taxes to fund their bullshit ideas, IT catastrophes, illegal wars, or whatever else annoys me, I'd do it."
Oh I'm not saying we don't want to pay for teachers and nurses salaries or keep the armed forces funded, but we all get mightily fucked off when someone who has never had to live paycheck to paycheck decides it would be cool to spend 100 million quid of a study to find out why poor people don't eat fresh vegetables or buy iPads.
So if we had a chance to legally avoid paying additional taxes, add a few quid to our paychecks, knowing we've done nothing wrong, we still pay something, then we'd do it. That's why I have no problem with any tech company doing what Amazon, Microsoft or Google are doing. And here's another point.. these are all US companies. Seems the government is very good at being outraged at the easiest target in the world to hate, but don't seem to be all that eager at pointing the finger at British businesses that slip them a few extra quid to keep inconvenient laws from passing or to create new laws that coincidentally require massive government contracts to enact.
That's my two pence (that's about 3 cents in devil currency) for what it's worth.. which is apparently signicantly less than when I were a lad..
That would be true democracy. Distributing your taxes as YOU see fit. I'd be all for that personally (healthcare, education, energy, transport and communication networks, in that order).
Wish Thatcher had given us that but then she was just a bat-shit crazy old bird who no doubt had her fingers in to many pies like all the rest.
Pretty obvious really
Crap Service yes no
Returns Service poor good
Useless Salesman yes none
Pushy Salesman yes no
Tax Issues yes* yes*
Both organisation types attempt to reduce their tax bill, easy, change the tax laws HMRC,
and stop winging.
This survey was carried out on one person on her bitter experiences with hsr's and amazon.
Only con, wish my stuff would get here like instant, but well even amazon have to use post/courier services
Its not Amazon that pay that tax its US, the consumer. Amazon has broken no laws and is merely using its international structure to gain relief via inter company trading.
So the question really should be. Do WE want to pay those taxes. erm no. With a bit of luck the whole high street will be reduced to rubble and turned into parks and greenspace at some point. Then people will actually want to go in to the city.
No surprise to me. I can't stand shopping and yet I think i'm suffering an Amazon addiction. Their customer service has been so obscenely good to me that I'd feel guilty buying anything elsewhere!
They once shipped me some very expensive PC speakers and I called to explain that the box had been dropped and damaged badly (speakers inside were perfect) - they sent me a new set and actually let me keep the other set in the damaged box...at no added cost! When ever something breaks or fails they will ship a replacement out within 24 hours and give a 2 weeks to return the faulty item at my leisure...and they pay all the postage. They are bloody superb.
I couldn't care less about the tax situation - that's a UK law problem. I'd rather have much lower taxes and much more business transactions than heavier taxes that push enterprise away from the UK. But then again, that wouldn't feed the coffers of the self-serving, massively bloated government, would it?
Did the survey cover whether the suppliers were ethical (even if you view it as a matter of ethics) or just whether they were a good shop ?
Amazon have a fantastic range, good prices, woeful choices of delivery suppliers and a questionable attitude to paying it's taxes.
If I'm asked, only one of the above affects the "shopping experience".
Rather than their customers, who will pretty much continue to go for Amazon's very good combo of price and service. Getting named and shamed for (legally) dodging taxes is definitely not a plus for Amazon, but most people are not going to care as long as their needs can be met at a reasonable price, fulfilled properly and delivered reliably.
People are voting for the shopping experience, NOT the company that runs it.
I think Apple gets mixed up like this with some people, fine products, shit company, but those are two different things and no-one cares.
And PLEASE STOP SAYING 'BRITS' - it's a sarcastic American given moniker, that I'd like to keep that way.
For example the big fat whiny guys says:- "Oh you Brits are all alike..."
Don't call yourself a 'Brit', it's horrible.
You go online and go to a foreign hosted website.
You order stuff and you pay with a credit card whose systems are hosted overseas.
The stuff you order is made overseas and is stored overseas.
Your order is sent from overseas to a marshalling store as part of a bulk consignment.
The stuff is delivered to your home by a local carrier or Royal Mail.
You are not nor ever have been, dealing with a UK company. If the laws were changed, they could move their warehouse to mainland Europe and post your stuff to you - it would cost more and you'd have to wait longer. And a lot of folks would lose their jobs.
Thats the reality and there is no way around it.
Seems to be rather a lot of Anonymous posts here defending Amazon to the hilt. Why would you be ashamed? Unless it's one or two people posting dozens of times.
We're not stupid. Unless they pay their taxes I will never use their services. I urge other non-anonymous cowards to do the same.
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So, when I buy something, which was made in China to an American design (paying with my credit card from an American company) on a website hosted in Dublin and managed by a company in Luxembourg using software from Washington, what exactly should the UK government get paid for, over and above the 20% surcharge it already slaps on top of almost all my purchases? The roads used to get it to me? No, the courier company already pays for that several times over in fuel and other taxes. My broadband connection? No, I pay for that myself - plus that 20% surcharge again, out of income already taxed to fund whatever the government feels like squandering on.
Sadly, the irony that most of the people complaining about Amazon in Luxembourg paying taxes in Luxembourg rather than in the UK were also complaining about Vodafone Luxembourg not paying taxes in the UK rather than Luxembourg is probably lost on such people...