There’s been an update on Amazon in the Guardian who report that Kevin Hollinrake, the enterprise minister, has written to John Boumphrey, Amazon’s UK country manager asking him to unfreeze disbursements to small businesses.
This will undoubtedly put pressure on Amazon, both for the nationwide publicity and the letter from the government.
The Guardian reveals that over 400 businesses have contacted Liz Barclay, the small business commissioner, complaining at the situation, with claims that funds held range from £1,000 to £300,000.
We are writing to Amazon to tell them to unfreeze the accounts until they have a proper process that is in place.
We understand why they are doing it – we need to ensure VAT is collected – but doing it on a knee-jerk basis, especially at a time when there is self-assessment due, is pretty ill-timedKevin Hollinrake, the enterprise minister, via The Guardian
Quoting the letter from the Minister, the Guardian say that he urged John Boumphrey to look into this issue further as a matter of urgency and ensure Amazon are supporting those whose accounts have been impacted. He added that small firms need to be paid quickly to carry on operating. and that this must be resolved immediately.
Amazon provided a statement to the newspaper saying:
Under UK tax legislation, online stores are required to collect and remit VAT on transactions involving overseas sellers. We therefore require verification of all sellers, which may include additional requests for information about where they are based.
We aim to minimise any inconvenience this may cause sellers and they can contact our support teams for further advice.– Amazon via The Guardian
The problem sellers are having however is that support don’t seem able to cope with the deluge of enquires those trying to unfreeze disbursements and get paid. They are still being met with requests for more information, often being asked for things that simply don’t exist such as asking for PAYE information from self employed sole traders.
It’s great to see there is pressure on Amazon to resolve the situation and unfreeze disbursements, but what we really want to see is fewer comments saying small businesses are stuck in a loop and a few comments saying that they’ve managed to unfreeze disbursements and their cash flow is running once again.