Amazon has left itself open to charges of being a cutthroat competitor with its recent promotion tied to the use of its Price Check smartphone app. Customers who used the app on Dec. 10 to scan prices at brick-and-mortar stores received a 5% discount (on up to three items) on the same items on Amazon's site.
Small businesses and even Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine have since barraged the online retailer with criticism, accusing it of encouraging consumers to spy on its behalf, according to the New York Times.
A letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, claims the promotion comes “at the expense of cities and towns nationwide,” and a spin-off movement called “Occupy Amazon,” with an accompanying hashtag on Twitter and a Facebook page, has been launched.
Amazon released a statement to the Times explaining the promotion was not directed at smaller competitors, but the damage has been done—right in the thick of the holiday shopping season. Every big brand—and every politician, it seems (just ask Vladimir Putin)—can be "occupied" for perceived offenses against consumers and less-powerful competitors. Perhaps it's time for "occupied" scenarios to be built into crisis plans.