Amazon France offers one-hour delivery service, Paris unimpressed

The mayor of Paris this week issued a stern warning to Amazon over its express delivery service, raising concerns over its impact on local businesses and criticising the US company for informing authorities “only a few days” before it launched.

In a press release published Sunday, the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo called on Amazon to guarantee that its Prime Now delivery service will not add to the city’s pollution problems and that it will preserve the “diversity” of Paris’ economy.

Amazon launched its Prime Now service in Paris last week, offering one-hour delivery of more than 18,000 items to Amazon Prime subscribers. The service covers fresh and frozen foods, though the Seattle-based company says it is distinct from its Amazon Fresh grocery service, which launched in the UK earlier this month. Amazon is charging €5.90 for one-hour delivery, or free two-hour delivery on orders of at least €20.

In its press release, Hidalgo’s office said it would file a dossier with local legislators to determine whether safeguards are needed to protect local businesses. In an interview with FranceInfo, Olivia Polski, City Hall’s adjoint for artisanal and independent businesses, described Prime Now as a form of “unfair competition” that will harm local merchants, noting that it will not face the same taxes and regulatory requirements as other vendors.

“While this operation is liable to severely destabilize the commercial equilibrium of Paris, this large American enterprise only decided to inform authorities a few days before its launch,” the mayor’s office said.

An Amazon France spokesperson declined to comment on the mayor’s statements when reached by The Verge.

Multinationals like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have for years faced regulatory hurdles in France and other European countries, amid concerns over tax schemes and unfair competitive practices, as have sharing economy startups like Uber and Airbnb. Earlier this month, the European Union called on member states to take a softer approach to regulating sharing economy services, in an attempt to harmonize rules across the EU.

Amazon has come under particularly severe criticism from French authorities over its impact on domestic businesses. In 2013, Aurelie Filippetti, France’s culture minister at the time, described Amazon as a “destroyer of bookshops,” and a law that went into effect in 2014 banned Amazon and other online retailers from offering free shipping on discounted books. (In response, Amazon began offering a €0.01 shipping charge on discounted titles.)

Earlier this year, it was reported that Amazon was planning to acquire the French shipping company Colis Privé, in which it already owns a 25% stake, but the US company told the AFP last month that it had abandoned those plans for “reasons exterior to Amazon and beyond our control.” French newspaper Les Echos later reported that the acquisition fell apart during negotiations with France’s competition authority.

By Amar Toor for www.theverge.com

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