Less than six months after banning Australian shoppers from its US and other international sites, Amazon.com has backflipped and reopened its doors to Aussies.
In act of defiance at being forced to collect GST on all purchases going to an Australian address, Amazon blocked Aussie shoppers on 1 July this year, forcing them to buy from the much smaller and restrictive range at Amazon.com.au.
“While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple international sites,” a spokeswoman said at the time.
But it seems the retailer has had a change of heart overnight, claiming it has now listened to its customers.
“As a result of customer feedback, from 22 November Amazon customers will be able to ship eligible items from amazon.com to Australian delivery addresses," the company said in a statement sent to Information Age.
"Earlier this year, Amazon assessed changes to the Australian GST law... and, in order to remain compliant with the legislation, made the difficult decision to suspend exports from our international stores to Australia.
"Following the announcement of these changes, we listened to the customer feedback and assessed how we could respond.
"Since that time, our teams have continued to focus their efforts on building the complex infrastructure needed to enable exports of low-value goods to Australia and remain compliant with GST laws."
For now, the changes only apply to goods sold by Amazon and not other third party sellers in the Amazon Marketplace.
Amazon said it is "currently building the infrastructure to enable the export of items sold and shipped by third party sellers through our international stores".
Locally, it is believed Aussies shunned Amazon.com.au which faced increased competition from eBay.com.au.
Back in May, then Treasurer (and now Prime Minister) Scott Morrison criticised Amazon, one of the world’s largest retailers, saying the government was not going to be “bullied by Amazon because they don’t want to pay tax”.
“I find it hard to believe that one of the world's most technologically advanced companies in the space of more than two-and-a-half years now say they are unable to work out a technological solution when it comes to the simple application of a sales tax on their products sold in Australia,” Morrison said.
“They face different VAT rates and sales tax rates all around the world in the UK and Canada -- and they seem to be able to manage that.
“But in this case, they say they can't manage it. Well, I’ve got a simple message. If you are selling things in Australia, it is subject to tax. You don't get a special deal because you are a big company or a multinational.
“This is a dummy spit.”
Amazon said it "will continue to work constructively with the Government on the implementation and enforcement of its legislation to ensure it achieves its objective of a level playing field for all retailers and marketplaces.”
Amazon.com is believed to sell around 500 million products on its US site but only 80 million on the Aussie site.