Arlington, Va. -The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a trade group representing some of the nation's largest brick-and-mortar chains, has criticized Amazon.com for touting its Price Check app to holiday shoppers.
The group claims the app encourages consumers to use brick-and-mortar stores as showrooms before ordering the same merchandise online from Amazon, and further exploits a pre-Internet tax loophole that does not require online-only retailers to collect sales tax in most states.
Amazon's Price Check app, introduced one year ago for iPhone and earlier this month for Android, allows in-store shoppers to scan a barcode, snap a picture, or say or type a product name to read reviews, see prices and make purchases from Amazon.com and its affiliate online merchants.
Price Check is just one of a number of bar-code scanning apps including Google Shopper and eBay's RedLaser that have been available for mobile devices as early as 2009. Amazon's app presumably drew RILA's ire when the e-tailer announced yesterday that it would provide a
to customers who use the app to make a purchase this Saturday.
"Amazon's aggressive promotion of its Price Check app shows the lengths they are willing to go to exploit this tax loophole," said Katherine Lugar, RILA's public affairs executive VP. "Retailers cannot afford another holiday season where they are forced to compete on an uneven playing field."
The group claims Amazon's sale tax exemptions give it a perceived 6 percent to 10 percent price advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers.
RILA supports bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate that would require all retailers to collect state sales taxes - as does Amazon. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 30, Paul Misener, Amazon's global public policy VP, stated that "Congress should authorize the states to require collection, with the great objects of protecting states' rights, addressing the states' needs, and leveling the playing field for all sellers."