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back to article Brits are so outraged by Amazon, they voted it TOP for shopping

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 …

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Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Brits are so outraged by UK Tax laws, but that's the Governments fault not Amazon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Brits are so outraged by UK EU Tax laws,

Fixed it for you.

It is the EU Tax laws (or treaties if you like) that are to blame. They allow any company doing business in multple EU countries to only pay tax in one of them.

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Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Brits (or the red-top reader, at least) are being told they should be.

Most the folk I know don't give a monkeys. Those that think about it some more just get narked about the stupid tax laws that allow such behavior.

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Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Ta for correction but point still stands, its the law at fault not the retailers.

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Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Is it really the EU's fault that HMRC are incompetent at enforcing their own rules on artificial shell companies ?

Is it really an EU problem that HMRC's top man makes cozy sweetheart deals with the tax cheifs of large corporations?

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Bronze badge

Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Exactly. France seems able to go after the money so it can't be an EU problem.

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Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

@Petrolhead

That's fine if you're absolutely ok with them making use of UK services without paying for them. I am not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brits are so outraged by Amazon,

Anyway - how long until we start blaming the Chinese again for flooding our markets with cheap goods and stealing all our manufacturing jobs?

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Anonymous Coward

Why do we like it ?

Because it's cheap and delivered to your door.

£20 for a HDMI lead at Currys ?

No Thanks.

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Trollface

Re: Why do we like it ?

And because they sell this (normally) free ebook - Pay Your Taxes! for 77p more than smashwords do?

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Re: Why do we like it ?

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]).

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Devil

Re: Why do we like it ?

Either that or she paid her neighbour to source all the stuff from Amazon...

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Anonymous Coward

When you look at the state of most high streets...

... is it any wonder people would rather have things shipped to their door.

(I blame Tesco/Asda/Waitrose etc.)

Add in the lower price and no-quibble returns policy and no amount of tax dodging will really affect their bottom line.

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Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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

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JDX
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Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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.

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Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

Oh and the multi story carparks all smelt of piss, were covered in broken glass, and felt like something out of a post apocalyptic movie, and they tended to be a good walk from the actual high street.

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Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When you look at the state of most high streets...

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..."

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Looked at some stuff on the site - checked some reviews but didnt buy.... even the usual Amazon DVD order came instead from a concrete n glass HMV branch this year.

Who do they ask in these surveys? they never ask me or anyone I know... I tend to ignore them, they are rather meaningless.

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[ab]using Amazon

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.

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Silver badge

Re: [ab]using Amazon

"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.

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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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: [ab]using Amazon

Seconded.

Why the feck? Are you so in love with the taxman, you're prepared to make your own life harder and more expensive to punish someone who "did him wrong"?

Do you send your local tax office Valentine's cards too?

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@AC 12:18

Hear hear!

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.

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Re: @AC 12:18

and by the way, it was the same SD card. Model number and everything.

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Silver badge

It's getting quite hard to avoid the tax dodgers, so it's best to ignore the bad press. They have been doing it for a while and nobody cared for an equal amount of time.

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Outraged by tax?

Yes, absolutely....But as pointed out before.... That's a government issue.

If you were given a way to pay less tax and it was totally LEGAL, would you not do the same?

Now, what's that that the postman has just delivered? My parcel from Amazon.... MAKE them pay MORE tax!!!

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Go

Re: Outraged by tax?

No i wouldnt. but then i have morals. The law/government should not allow this sort of behavior as many people are not as nice as i am

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Stop

Re: Outraged by tax?

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Outraged by tax?

Funny....can't help but notice the corelation between your alleged sense of `morality` and your apparent lack of intelligence. You write like a below average 10 year old.

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JDX
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What did Netflix do wrong?

It's a slick service and I found their service helpful (see #9 http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/british-people-problems). Wonder what they did to piss people off... maybe low broadband speeds spoiled the experience?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What did Netflix do wrong?

> What did Netflix do wrong?

They sold us a movie and TV streaming service with almost no content.

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JDX
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Re: What did Netflix do wrong?

So Netflix are unpopular because people bought a service without checking what it provided? If it's a shoddy service then don't buy it and complain, don't buy it.

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Amazon user since 1997 here.

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.

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Re: Amazon user since 1997 here.

It's not fairly competitive. They have an advantage over companies which pay UK tax. I say shut down their UK operation completely until they pay their way. They'll change their tune.

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The basic fallacy

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.

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Re: The basic fallacy

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.

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Re: The basic fallacy

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.

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Alert

Re: The basic fallacy@David Webb

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.

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"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...

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WTF?

How did Play go down one spot?

The one above is a no-change

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Go

Re: How did Play go down one spot?

The changes are in approval points, not in positions.

(It confused me too.)

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Another Red Herring

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.

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Re: Another Red Herring

"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.

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