Amazon France are under fire because they destroy products, often perfectly usable, in massive quantities. An undercover reporter on Capital, a programme on the French TV channel M6, reveals that everything from toys to TVs and everything in between were piled high before being destroyed.
The programme estimates that with well over a quarter of a million products destroyed over a nine month period at one relatively small Amazon fulfilment centre means that across France as many as 3 million products could be being scrapped.
As you might imagine, the French Secretary of State for the ecological transition Brown Poirson was shocked and outraged at the wastefulness vowing that the French Parliament will soon prohibit this type of practice adding that companies such as Amazon will no longer be able to discard products that are still consumable.
The problem is of course that whilst Amazon may well destroy products that they sell as a retailer, either to dispose of them or because they’re returns, they do also try to resell them through Amazon Warehouse deals. These are products in good working order and once the quality level is determined Amazon offer them for sale at deep discounts but there are bound to be products where determining if they are usable isn’t economically viable.
The other issue is when a merchant creates a removal order they may ask Amazon to destroy the products rather than return them. This creates a contract with Amazon who must ensure the products are destroyed and prevent them from re-entering the retail market. Failure to do so could result in recalled or otherwise dangerous goods entering the grey market although often times it may again simply be cheaper for the merchant to pay for goods to be destroyed than carry on paying storage fees or pay the cost of returning them.
Amazon themselves pointed out that vast quantities of products are recycled, restored or donated and that only a tiny percentage of products are destroyed… which makes a lot of sense – Amazon don’t make money from the wanton destruction of goods but the problem is a tiny percentage of the millions of goods Amazon turn over is still a massive quantity.
The French say that they’ll make Amazon pay or perhaps companies ordering Amazon to destroy products pay… but if that’s a Chinese company using FBA it’s pretty much just Amazon that are on the hook.
This isn’t a new problem – last year it was Amazon Germany being pilloried for product destruction, this year it’s Amazon France, sooner or later we can expect a program (like perhaps Channel 4 Despatches) to get around to Amazon UK. If you’ve ever created a destruction order for goods in Amazon FBA you’re part of the problem.