Tamebay comment: Amazon Anonymous boycott could hurt SMEs

amazon free challenge spCampaign group Amazon Anonymous is calling on British consumers to boycott Amazon this December. Using the hashtag #amazonfree on social media, they want people to pledge how much they won’t spend with Amazon before the end of the year. (We can only assume that buying on Amazon between January to November is just fine by them.)

There’s a totaliser on the website (in the old-fashioned church roof and Blue Peter sense) and thus far they claim to have stopped approaching £3m of spending.

amazon anon totaliser

You can read about their pitch on their website but here are the headlines:

“Christmas is Amazon’s busiest time of year – it’s also our best chance to disrupt their business. They don’t pay their workers a Living Wage. They dodge their tax. They take money away from our local shops. So this year, let’s take our money away from them.”

We’ve taken the time to read up on their positions and arguments. There’s no quarrel on some things.

Yes, in an ideal world, Amazon would pay a more equitable share of tax to the British Exchequer. But as we’ve said before, they’re not breaking the law. It’s the the law that’s broke.

And, of course, supporting local business is a good thing too. And that’s where the Amazon Anonymous argument falls flat on its smug face.

Tamebay estimates that at least one third of sales on Amazon UK comes from tax-paying UK small businesses. We know these sellers because they’re sellers like you.

We’re talking about small commercial concerns and family businesses providing employment in their local communities.

And Amazon sales supplement existing bricks & mortar firms, fuel ambitious start-ups, enable cottage industries and make second-income businesses possible. We also know numerous big SME companies who really rely on Amazon.

All these enterprises share similar burdens by paying employer NI where appropriate, VAT, corporation tax on profits and also business rates on premises. Employees for such SMEs pay income tax and NI too. It’s a slur to suggest that SMEs selling on Amazon dodge taxes. I bet plenty pay a Living Wage.

These Amazon SMEs are the very model of a local business because they pay up and employ staff too in locales all over the country. I wonder how many SME jobs are reliant on Amazon? It’s impossible to say and a disparate group makes an easy target for groups like Amazon Anonymous to target without a thought with regards to the consequences.

We oppose the Amazon Anonymous campaign here at Tamebay.

Not least because Amazon Anonymous IS entirely anonymous. There is no indication of who leads this boycott on their site and it’s always a bit odd when noone will show their face as part of a protest. They do share some animated GIFs from Downton Abbey though. Make of that what you will.

But the greatest concern is that the Amazon Anonymous campaign doesn’t even mention the many thousands of tax-paying UK SMEs who are selling on Amazon who could be hurt as a result of their masked campaign. The website doesn’t mention SME sales at all. Either the anonymous group is ignorant or doesn’t care.

Are you a taxpaying UK Amazon seller who could be affected by a boycott? What do you think?

We’ve asked Amazon Anonymous for a comment regarding the sales made on Amazon by SMEs because it isn’t addressed on the website. We wait for their reply.