Have you made an order in the last weeks to Amazon? If so, or even if you simply thought about it, I bet you’ve had a lot of doubts about it: can this be asked or not? Will it take a long time to reach me? What will the delivery process be like, will I have to touch the screen to sign? The successive changes adopted by companies and public administrations, based on new knowledge about the coronavirus, have caused a barrage of change that, let’s be honest, has us all submerged in a little personal chaos in which we are not quite sure what we can do.
Companies are, in many cases, in a similar situation, and especially those that operate in multiple countries have to adapt their activities to the specific and changing framework of each territory. And that, added to their interest (legitimate, without a doubt, but that can lead them to force the situation somewhat) gives rise to confrontations like the one that Amazon and the French administrations have carried out. A train crash reported by The New York Times, and in which justice has finally decided in favor of the French authorities.
A few weeks ago, a court of first instance ruling led the online sales giant to close six of its distribution centers in France, as well as grant low paid workers. At that time Amazon stated that the definition of what goods it could sell was not clear and, instead of risking being fined, it chose to temporarily close the distribution centers, in addition to appealing the sentence in a higher instance.
Well, we have already known the result of the appeal, and it is that Amazon can only deliver items directly related to medical supplies, hygiene products and food in the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Further, you must perform a risk assessment of your warehouses with the unions. Recall that they sued the company for what they saw as a failure by the company to protect warehouse employees from exposure to the coronavirus.
The Versailles Court of Appeals said that if Amazon fails to comply with the provisions of the court ruling, the company would be fined € 100,000 for each delivery that does not meet its conditions. The court will review the progress of the company next month, so it is expected that the operations of the company of Jeff Bezos fit like a glove to what is demanded by justice, since in other cases the sanctions can be multimillion-dollar .
Although I am aware of the enormous damage that this means for the multinational, and of course I can put myself in the shoes of its managers and executives, I can also do it (and I do it) in the owners of all those small non-essential product shops, who have been locked for weeks and with Damocles’ sword on their heads. Merchants who may suffer even more if, due to current circumstances, part of their traditional customers make the leap to online commerce as a result of their being unable to sell.
And, on the other hand, I think that the disparity in the response of the different governments only complicates the situation even more. In the face of a global threat, the answer would have to be common, and although I am quite skeptical about it, I hope that is a lesson to be learned once all this is over. Because the current situation, seen with a little perspective, is still somewhat absurd. AND I say this thinking, for example, in Llivia, A small town of just over 1,500 inhabitants and belonging to the province of Girona.
And why Llivia? Because, you can see it on the map: it is totally surrounded by France. So what rules does Amazon have to follow to make a delivery there? By the Spanish, which allow the shipment of non-essential products, or by the French who prohibit it? Does it depend on the legal framework at the place of delivery, at the place of origin of the merchandise? And what happens if an order from the Spanish subsidiary receives an order for a non-essential good and, upon shipment, it is detained on French territory? What rule applies? I have been thinking about it for a while and I still have nothing clear, what do you think?