Cancel Amazon! How using Amazon exploits all of us

Dec 14, 2020

I’m not sure what is going to happen in 2021, but I know what I will not be doing.

As 2020 comes to its end and we all try our best to forecast 2021 it’s more difficult than ever to know exactly what we can expect both in our business and personal lives.

I do, however, know there is something I will not be doing, and that’s buying anything from Amazon, or indeed using Amazon in any way if I can avoid it.

Is it time to cancel Amazon?

I can hear my IT colleagues jumping up now and highlighting that Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) are used throughout our industry to deliver services and so I accept I may have no choice – for example Netflix uses AWS. I’m sure that some of the companies I order from online use AWS, but I have no control over that. But to sum up, where I can, I will choose to not use Amazon.

Why you should stop using Amazon

It’s true, at Ubi, we’re dependent on technology, providing outstanding levels of service across, phone systems, cloud systems, guest wifi, and much, much more.

It may seem odd that I’m in the technology sector but spurn one key provider, however I feel that my business and personal life is better off for avoiding Amazon.

Why am I taking such a bold stance? There are a number of reasons but, overall, it’s a matter of perceived fairness based on what’s emerged regarding the company’s performance and tax contributions in the UK.

This year, the company declared they would pay as little as £14.3m on 2019’s £14bn turnover (but on an undisclosed profit and a ‘low’ margin). When it was realised this didn’t look good publicly, they announced they were paying £293m in direct taxes, which happened to include all the usual PAYE/NI and business rates. Let’s see if HMRC will let me take that into account when I try to negotiate down my own company’s annual corporation tax bill this year.

If we assume that their ‘low’ net margin is only 3%, they would have made a profit of £420 million on their £14billion turnover, which I calculate equates to almost £80m corporation tax due. So, in their declaration they were £66m short; about equal to the annual salary for over 2,000 NHS nurses. Never have we needed healthcare more than now, so what better reason is there for Amazon to pay the same amount of tax as any other business in the UK has to?  

Simplification this may be, but these are the numbers.

And remember, these figures are before the massive 35%+ growth Amazon have been experiencing in 2020. If the company changed their policy to honestly pay corporation tax at the standard 19% on their true, unabridged, unmolested profit figures I would potentially support them in running a PR campaign to say how they fund 2,000 nurses!

But you and I know that they won’t do this because they do not want to pay corporation tax at the standard rate. Is it really that much to ask? From the outside looking in, it appears all Amazon wants to do is trade in our country and use its infrastructure to the fullest, take peoples’ money and trouser every penny of profit. In my opinion, you’d struggle to find a company less interested in community; theirs is a one World Amazon-first view.

Cancel Amazon and support local businesses

So, while I’m clearly advocating against Amazon, what is it am I advocating for? In a word, “local”.

As a marketplace that shows you the numerous options, Amazon is great. So, use Amazon to “showroom” or source a product/service you want, but then look to buy it elsewhere (from other suppliers on the internet or an independent on the high street).

Never make the assumption that because it’s on Amazon it will be cheaper. I have found multiple items for my home and business, from paint stripper to electricals, on Amazon that I end up buying at my local independent suppliers at the same or even a lower price. As consumers (either in business or day-to-day) we need to shop smarter – studies have shown that a pound spent with an independent local shop goes further than it does in the hands of a multinational corporation.

This approach genuinely works and has led me to using or working with some fantastic independent businesses who offer far more than online payment and next day delivery. Since thinking about my buying habits in this way, I haven’t spent a penny or bought even a single item from Amazon.

In 2021 let’s make sure we use Amazon to our advantage and not theirs.

I’d love to know your thoughts on Amazon and if you feel as passionately as I do about local business. Get in touch and contact us

[Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash]

Time to talk?

Say Hello Ubi.