Amazon Facing “Unprecedented” Fine in France for Unfair Business Practices
Earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Amazon into the country as the U.S.-based ecommerce giant opened a new distribution center in the country. Now, a few months later, Amazon’s honeymoon period in France appears to be over. According to multiple reports in both U.S. and French publications, Amazon is under investigation for unfair business practices with suppliers to the website.
According to a report on Engadget, French Economic Minister Bruno Le Maire filed a complaint against the company for “abusing its suppliers” with one-sided contract clauses. The suit carries with it a 10 million euro fine that the ministry called “a strong and unprecedented action.”
These types of business practices are nothing new in the world of Amazon, as Dealerscope learned earlier this year during our deep dive into the company’s often-called “predatory” tactics with suppliers. Some of the complaints against the company in France include things like putting the onus for damaged packages and other delivery issues on the seller, excessively strict delivery and deadline requirements—all of which could result in being kicked off the site if the supplier didn’t comply. Additionally, Amazon is able to change seller contracts overnight and suspend a dealer without any notice.
The decision to pursue legal action against Amazon follows a two-year investigation by France’s consumer affairs and fraud division, which included a lengthy study of clauses in Amazon’s contracts and reviewing feedback from 10,000 sellers in the country. According to the Engadget report, the French Amazon seller forums are filled with complaints about delayed account verifications and threats to cancel contracts over minor issues.
France has a history of being rather unwelcoming to Amazon—it views the service as a threat that could “destabilize” the economy by upending the restaurant and grocery business. But consumers in the country continue to make it the nation’s most popular ecommerce site with more than 3.5 million daily users.