22 December, 2012

To Amazon or not to Amazon?

Our family has had a busy run up to Christmas this year. Busier than usual. This has been down in large part to one of our elderly parents having been in hospital for the past several weeks. It looks likely that she'll remain there well into the new year. This means that we have been more preoccupied than usual, and also more occupied than usual, driving down to the South Coast regularly at weekends to visit (a four-hour round trip) and having long telephone conversations in a bid to be as supportive as we possibly can.

And this has been in addition to the usual mad round of activities that any family with children experiences at this time of year -- St. Nicholas Day celebrations, two carol services, one music concert, two sets of school discos, and several Christmas parties at the last count.

Between us, my husband and I have a fairly large assortment of relatives, all of whom require Christmas presents to be bought for them, which means that we usually spend most of our weekends in December (and even some in November!) Christmas shopping. But this year, given our frequent trips to the hospital, browsing at leisure in town really hasn't been an option. Hence my grand solution when I had a spare few minutes at the beginning of December: for once, let's just go on to Amazon and buy a gift off everyone's wishlist. And we did. Not very imaginative, granted, but at least it got the job done and ensured that none of our family would feel bereft this Christmas.

This happened just before the furore about Amazon and tax avoidance broke. And then I felt a little bit guilty. Should I really be supporting a company that makes massive profits yet still tries to avoid paying its fair share of taxes? In the end, I stopped worrying. This year was an unusual year for us, and I'm sure that next year we'll be back to browsing the local stores. But Amazon is so convenient in so many ways. Why can't they be ethical (or even just pay their taxes like the majority of us) as well?

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