Home Local News Daco fines Amazon.com over shipping
Issued : Thursday, March 1, 2012 06:15 PM
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Daco fines Amazon.com over shipping

By CB Online Staff

Puerto Rico’s Consumer Affairs Department (Daco) has hit online retail giant Amazon.com with a $370,000 fine for excluding the island from its free Super Saver shipping option it offers to the 50 states.

The consumer watchdog also slapped a $10,000 fine on electronics retailer Best Buy for a similar policy.

Daco Secretary Luis Rivera Marín said the companies have no excuse to exclude Puerto Rico from such offers.

“This is discrimination,” he said. “This office seeks equality and these practices border on racism.”

The consumer watchdog agency is spearheading a push by the Fortuño administration to win equal treatment from national retailers for consumers in Puerto Rico.

Daco has opened a new office aimed at getting U.S. companies to put local consumers on equal footing with their stateside counterparts.

The Commercial Antidiscrimination Office’s (OADC) mission is to investigate and take action on complaints lodged by Puerto Rico consumers regarding uneven treatment by businesses in the States in terms of shipping, availability and other issues.

In the six months since it was launched, the OACD has fielded some 527 consumer complaints against 160 companies. Amazon accounted for 135 of the complaints, Rivera said Thursday.

The administrative order creating the office establishes as discriminatory any significant and unjustified difference in access, sales, products, goods, services, guarantees or delivery.

Daco has signaled commercial discrimination toward local consumers by companies including Dell, Best Buy, Toshiba and Apple for not making parcel deliveries to Puerto Rico. The local watchdog agency has also taken aim at American Airlines, Sam’s Club, FedEx, UPS and DHL for classifying the island as an “international” destination.

As for the watchdog agency’s teeth, Rivera said Daco can levy fines of up to $10,000 for each discriminatory violation.

Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock has made winning equal treatment for Puerto Rico consumers a pet issue since his days as a senator.

The Fortuño administration has notched some victories on that front, including getting Apple to send covers to fix an iPhone glitch and extending Netflix’s streaming service to Puerto Rico.

Rivera announced Thursday that the OADC successfully pushed for Puerto Rico’s inclusion in the Amazon.com’s Amazon Student program.

Amazon Student is a free membership program created especially for college students. Amazon Student members receive benefits such as six months of free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime, and e-mail alerts for discounts and promotions.

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