Amazon Spain Caught Red-Handed By Valencia And Fined

The Generalitat Valenciana has fined Amazon Spain for deceiving the public about its Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts.

Valencia’s General Directorate of Commerce fined Amazon Spain, the international online retailer, for major violations of fair commercial practises and false advertising during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales campaigns.

The infringement, according to the resolution with which this department concluded the case after Amazon Spain agreed to pay, consisted of boosting the prices immediately before the sales so the discounts offered appeared higher.

The investigation was launched by the Alicante Territorial Service of Commerce at the end of October last year, a month before the sales campaigns, and concluded with the imposition of two fines totaling 22,000 euros.

Suspecting that Amazon Spain increases prices every year before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the inspectors from this department began monitoring the pricing in October. Because it is hard to examine all of the prices on Amazon Spain, they concentrated on two products that are known to sell well during this period of time: television sets larger than 50 inches and coffee makers. Even then, there were still hundreds of products to keep track of.

They soon found that they were correct. Several products had their prices boosted right before the sales to make the final reduction appear more tempting to shoppers. For example, a Philips TV with a regular price of 1.327 euros was priced at 1.599 euros right before the sale, so his final price of 1.099 euros would lead clients to believe they had saved a significant amount of money. The advertised 31 percent discount was only a 17 percent discount.

Another example was the Nespresso DeLonghi coffee machine, which went up from 83 euros to 99 euros immediately before the sale, to be later offered at 69 euros . In this instance, Amazon gave purchasers the impression that they were saving 30 euros when, in fact, they were saving only fourteen.

Amazon Spain, being Amazon, tried to drag the dispute denying this practice, then requesting proof, and then, when confronted with thousands of images taken on various days on its website, agreed to pay a fine of 22.000 euros. After all, it is a multibillion-dollar corporation that cannot afford such publicity, and this practise has most likely been going on for years, so it has already made a tidy profit. What’s interesting is that Amazon Spain paid the fee in record time to take the advantage of Directorate of Commerce’s 20% discount for early payments .

Although it is very likely that the online giant has a thousand more tricks up its sleeve, it is to be assumed that this particular tactic will no longer be used. The Department of Commerce will continue to monitor Amazon prices, and if this occurs again, a far larger fine will be levied.

 This case coincides with recent news that Amazon Spain will further extend its presence in the Region.  Just a week ago, Amazon announced the construction of its first logistics centre in  Comunidad,  in Onda (Castellón), which will complement its two existing logistics stations in the region: one in Paterna and the other in Alicante. In Spain, the company employs around 12.000 people and expects to hire an additional 15.000 permanent staff in the near future. However, because the commercial giant employs a very low-qualified personnel, many governments across Europe regard Amazon as a scourge that disrupts markets and destroys enterprises rather than a desirable investor.

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