Amazon sets the rules of the box for Japan Post

Amazon has faced an interesting problem in Japan, like everywhere else: the boxes that Amazon delivers goods in are always big, they are much bigger than the goods when the goods are small. The box comes filled with packaging materials, paper and plastic where you fish for your goods. This is done for logistical reasons as handling large uniform sized objects is easier. The downside is, of course, that Amazon standardized on a box that’s way too big to fit in any of the letterboxes world around, causing grief to delivery companies, post offices and customers. Not to mention the amount of waste.

How do you think Amazon handled the problem? Do you think Amazon downsized the shipping boxes to save on materials cost? Do you think they were nice to the post office and customers and introduced a smaller packaging that would fit the letterboxes for the smaller objects? Nah. That’s not Amazon way.

Amazon started selling new letterboxes in Japan last year that are designed to be large enough to accommodate Amazon’s own post. How is that? They now set the rules: “Here is the post size that we will send to you and, here, buy this box to replace yours because we designed it to actually be big enough for our post.”

All in the name of “efficiency”. Of course.

-->

continue reading →

EU budget fraud steady at €7 billion

The European Court of Auditors published their audit report for 2013. EU budget  totaled €148.5 billion in 2013, or around €290 for every citizen. The average fraud level across all spending areas is estimated at 4.7%, or €7 billion total. In some areas, like energy, transport, fishing, environment and health, fraud level reaches nearly 7% of the budget.

Interestingly, the auditors claim that these numbers are “not a measure of fraud, inefficiency or waste.” What then? Ah, well, they do not say. They just call it an “error”. So no court cases are forthcoming, I guess.

The definition of fraud from the legal dictionary:

A false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.

That does not ring a bell? I think this is precisely what we are dealing with here and they just refuse to admit it.

Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

Let’s see. The officials and businessmen submitting false reports to EU are definitely making a false statement. They certainly know what they claim is untrue: how could a land owner not know that the land he is asking funds for the development of is officially identified as unsuitable for agricultural development? The intent to deceive is naturally there for they submit false reports for financial gain. The victim – the EU – relies on those false statements to send funds to the fraudsters resulting in a substantial financial injury to the EU and its citizens.

Just look at the types of “errors”: false cost claims, ineligible projects and beneficiary organizations, shady public procurement, false declarations… None of those hint at “just an honest error”, do they?

I think the case is quite clear. The fraud is widespread in EU. Most of those cases are likely to be criminal … -->

continue reading →