France forces Amazon to charge 1p shipping

Amazon France Free ShippingAmazon have stuck two fingers up to the French government who just passed a law making it illegal to give a 5% discount on books and offer free shipping at the same time. In response Amazon are now charging for shipping…. at the rate of €0.01.

The French 5% maximum discount law for new books was originally introduced to stop large companies killing small independent book sellers. If Amazon offer a 5% discount and then tag on free carriage, it’s claimed that this adds up to more than 5% so the French government approved a law barring e-shops from shipping bargain books for free on Thursday.

Amazon swiftly responded saying “A new law forbids us to continue to offer you 5% discount and free shipping in France for your book orders. However, you are very likely to express your wish to have access to the widest offer, quickly delivered where you live, and at the best price. We think you’re right“.

Amazon added “we have set the shipping costs to the minimum permitted by law, or just 1 penny per order containing books and shipped by Amazon“.

Of course it’s unlikely the government will be happy with Amazon’s innovative strategy, but short of setting minimum legal delivery costs it’s unclear how they’ll continue their goal of protectionism. The EU are already likely to see the French Government’s maximum 5% book selling policy as anti-competitive and restrictive. Setting a minimum delivery cost would probably be a step too far for such a prominent member of the EU to get away with.