Online retailing giant Amazon was criticized as “anti-competitive” yesterday for its latest promotion that encourages consumers to enter stores and leave empty-handed after reporting back the prices they find there.
The deal, dubbed “Price Check,” involves customers finding and sharing in-store prices and receiving a discount of 5 percent — to a maximum of US$5 — from the online retailer for that item if Amazon has it in stock.
The move was sharply criticized by US Senator Olympia Snowe, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, who called the move a direct assault on retail stores.
“Amazon’s promotion — paying consumers to visit small businesses and leave empty-handed — is an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities,” she said in a statement this week.
The deal, accessed through a new smartphone application from the Amazon Web site, can be applied three times for a total saving of US$15 on electronics, sporting goods, music, DVDs and other items.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association also criticized the promotion, saying that “central to this tactic is Amazon’s continued practice of using a pre-Internet loophole to avoid state sales tax collection.”
The group called on lawmakers to rein in what it called the company’s “exploitative” practices.
The online retailer is regularly targeted by trader associations who believe the company gains an unfair competitive advantage due to being exempt from value-added taxes in most US states.