Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Bit More on the Connecticut Amazon Associates Termination and Why People Love

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an AP article about the internet sales tax and in Connecticut and Arkansas and how it resulted in Amazon terminating Amazon Associate contracts: Amazon Cuts Off Affiliates in Ark., Conn.

Kevin Sullivan, Connecticut's commissioner of revenue services, said the issue at stake is whether online retailers have the same obligation to collect sales tax as other companies that make or broker sales in the state.

I don't understand this statement:

"Kevin Sullivan, Connecticut's commissioner of revenue services, said the issue at stake is whether online retailers have the same obligation to collect sales tax as other companies that make or broker sales in the state."

I'm confused because the referral to Amazon done through a click on a link on my blog is done in cyberspace, it is not done in the physical location of Connecticut; Amazon has no retail store or warehouse in Connecticut. Also, the customer could be from some other state entirely (or from a foreign country) and they have not stepped foot in Connecticut. My blog readers don't know where I live nor should that matter, since the locale of my blog is cyberspace (or would the government say my blog's location is the servers that blogger uses?).

If big box brick and mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders think that adding a tax to sales will drive more business their way they are sorely mistaken. Management must be in denial over the real issue that customers don't shop in their stores more. I feel the reasons are these:

1. The in-stock inventory at Barnes & Noble and Borders is inadequate for my purchasing needs. They have failed to stock niche books that I buy regularly.

2. Books are perceived as being overpriced at full retail and customers like to get a bargain. Thus, we like discounted prices such as are commonly offered at Amazon.

3. Amazon's artificial intelligence programming is helpful for consumers to find more books they may like. Also, when shopping for one thing, Amazon gives us a peek at another similar item and their marketing technique often works, exposing us to a product we didn't know about and results in increased sales. Brick and mortar stores have no such sales and marketing tool.

In a recent homeschool co-op class I was teaching, the topic of a brainstorming session the 10 and 11 year old's did was "how to get kids to read more". One challenge cited was trouble finding more books in the genre they like or similar to a certain author's other books. Three kids came up with a solution to use to find products that "other customers have bought who liked this product". The kids said they already use the Amazon website for this purpose!

4. The Amazon customer reviews are helpful to Amazon customers and provide more content and critique about books and other products than any B&N or Borders employee can. In my experience, staffers at those stores can struggle with a popular author's name, not knowing who they are or how to spell their name. They have not known popular titles of books. They need to be a bit more knowledgable and more like a librarian, but they are not. The cheerful attitude of a staffer at a special customer service desk does not make up for their ignorance. No human staffer could ever "know" as much as Amazon's artificial intelligence computer program! TiVo is another example of a product that has a great AI program, taking my TV viewing preferences and dislikes into consideration when suggesting other shows I may like to watch. I love AI!

5. has a program for third parties to sell used books. We often can find hard to find or out of print books on Amazon that we can never find after days of in person scouting at used book shops in our georgraphic area. When local retailers fail to provide the product we are looking for we turn to the Internet, plain and simple. When publishers fail to offer in print books that we want we are forced to scout out used editions.

6. It is not cost effective or time efficient for me to drive a distance burning up gas, to get to the bookstore only to find it's not in stock there anyway. They offer to special order it for you but offer no discount and then you have to drive back and spend more money on fuel for that additional errand. Lastly, their delivery times are slower than Amazon's, so why should I special order from a brick and mortar store?
7. Internet shopping at home is comfortable and easy. The stores are open 24/7. I can shop in my pajamas. It is easier for me to shop at home instead of juggling kids while trying to shop in a retail store.

8. By doing internet shopping, I get to avoid being around the great unwashed masses. My visit to Barnes & Noble two weeks ago exposed me to two sick people coughing and hacking right next to me, multiple customer's loud farts while they browsed the stacks, and I was grossed out when a morbidly obese, tattooed, fifty-something woman in a mini-dress and bare legs took off her shoes and put her bare nasty feet up on the coffee table, with her legs spread, no less.

There are many reasons why customers love shopping at home via the internet on, with just one of them being the bonus that we didn't used to get charged a sales tax. There are so many reasons why people love that it befuddles me as to why the management of brick and mortar bookstores cannot see the real picture.

Legislators are not trying to level the playing field by forcing a sales tax on Amazon customers, they are just trying to figure out how to get more money in their pockets because they are too stubborn to work at reducing their over-budget spending. It is harder to cut the spending than to do something to just increase their income. That is a sign that politicians are disconnected from the citizens of America's reality. When Main Street Americans don't have the money to pay for what we want to buy, we have to reduce our spending. Even if we wished our income was higher, we can't always conjure up additional income.

It seems to me that too many American governments are full of spoiled, lazy brats who are over-indulging themselves by overspending. The politicians are cowards who are too scared to do the right thing which would be to make some hard decisions about how to reduce spending in order to have a balanced budget. Our governments need to spend more time thinking about what they do and why, instead of always just trying to figure out how they can squeeze another dime out of taxpayers. Especially in a recession and in times of more than 9% unemployment, the goal should be for governments to reduce spending just as this country's citizens have been doing.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Nicely stated. I couldn't agree more. One other thing I like about is that you can shop for more than just books. Are you ordering a book you want and happen to remember that you are out of your favorite tea that the local grocery store no longer stocks? It all comes in one box, no more futile wandering of isles.