By Alex Mutter
In the wake of a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing in which Amazon, Google and Starbucks were grilled over avoiding UK taxes, and growing public frustration with tax dodging foreign corporations, two prominent UK publications have raised the question of whether UK consumers should boycott Amazon and other multinationals.
In a recent article published in The Guardian, Margaret Hodge, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, voiced her intent to boycott certain foreign companies, saying: “From now on I will be putting away my Kindle and feeding my caffeine addiction somewhere other than Starbucks. We know that Amazon, Google and Starbucks are raking in profits from their economic activity in Britain but using a range of devices to avoid paying their fair share of corporation tax…”
She also encouraged consumers to consider boycotting: “Consumers can use their power, too. By boycotting these companies we not only voice our anger but him them where it hurts…So I will be buying my grandchildren’s Christmas presents from John Lewis, not Amazon, this year.”
The Mirror, meanwhile, encouraged its readers to try UK book retailer WH Smith instead of Amazon this holiday season. Tim Waterstones, founder of Waterstones, also sounded off in the article, saying: “No one is questioning the strict legality of Amazon’s UK tax structure, but many of us are questioning the spirit and ethos.”
While Google and Starbucks are also in hot water, Amazon has in particular drawn the ire of both British consumers and lawmakers. Andrew Cecil, Amazon’s director of public policy, failed to answer any of the questions about Amazon’s sales and finances that were put to him by the House of Commons PAC.