This time I have a representative in Luxembourg, so I figure that my chances ought to be good. I decide to follow every rule and start with having my lawyer officially write to Amazon demanding answers on the German issue.
Amazon ignores our letter entirely.
We go to the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier in Luxembourg, a body that, contractually, was supposed to be able to arbitrate my dispute out of court.
CSSF says they are not even remotely concerned and have no idea they are supposed to be involved.
So be it, then. In September 2018, we serve Amazon a notice to appear in front of the Peace Tribunal in Luxembourg, which is a low-level proceeding, akin to a small claim court. Nothing too complicated. My lawyer recommends that we focus only on the lost goods of Germany. Do not complexify the issue, keep it basic, keep it simple!
So he says.
October. Audience day arrives, and Amazon does not bother to show up. Not a word to the court, nothing.
Judge takes note and just goes home. Later he will give Amazon a second chance. Appear in person in December 2018, or else, I will give my ruling! December comes, Amazon does not show up either. January, Judge rules in absentia fully in my favor. Value of the goods lost must be refunded (at purchase value), 500 Euro in compensation is awarded for a total of 8,699.36 Euro, ruling is immediately executable. Amazon has to pay right away.
Shit! 500 Euro? That really is on the low end of the compensation spectrum. I guess that’s still something. I am kind of gutted that it cost me many times that in lawyer fees, not to mention Germany that my lawyer had told me would not sit well in Peace proceedings, but well, it’s done, I guess.
Again, my ignorance of the ways of a Master will be my end, small Padawan. What did you think would come next? Naturally, Amazon strikes back.
One month later, Amazon files for Appeal, and the least I can say about it is that I am floored. Do they finally bring some kind of proof that I was possibly mistaken? Ha! Nil and Nope! The Amazon way is way nastier and more perverse. Let’s go through their list:
Now therefore, Amazon demands the court to reject the original judgement in full, demands that the Plaintiff pays 11,000 Euro in security deposit, and we, Amazon the righteous, demands 11,000 Euro in compensation and punitive damages from that abusive vendor.
Talk about fighting tooth and nails! Damn!
No choice, then. I have to fight this. Of course, I have to retain the use of a lawyer (mandatory and costly), but what other choice do I have?
On 15th March, Amazon will file a slightly amended version, in which it now claims that because they did not get a chance to see our documents, January judgement was an unfair ruling (Jesus! They got 2 chances to attend the hearing, did not show up, and now claim it was unfair to them).
Pay attention, and look closely. Did Amazon produce any data? Nope. Any shred of proof? Nope, they just re-interpret my own documents. Fight on every possible technicality beside the facts? Absolutely! On top of that, full of shit, in a display of absolute bad faith, will claim that because i live today in Taiwan I have no right to even claim anything because contractually, the contract signatory is in France. No contract, no responsibility.
Now, the role of a Defense lawyer is to defend its client, and the right to Defense is absolute. That said, if a lawyer can, on the ground that he is defending his client, pretend to ignore the guilt or innocence of that client, that does not give that lawyer the right to make assertions that he cannot ignore to be false. Lying is to make a false statement with the intention to deceive. As such, a lie is contrary to the dignity that exists within the oath taken by lawyers, and that dignity should theoretically force a lawyer to avoid means that lower the respect their function ought to inspire. Lawyers are instruments of Justice and as such should be prohibited to use bad means to an end, even in defense of their client. In Luxembourg, in particular, that oath clearly spells two such big No-No: respect to the court, and trust in the cause you are defending. In other words, a lawyer should never voluntarily lie to the court, but it is perfectly acceptable that he makes wrong assertions under certain implied circumstances: It is one thing to say something wrong because the client himself has misled the lawyer (possible), but it is another thing entirely when the lawyer himself decides to produce purposely misleading information. Do you trust in your cause if you have to lie for it? Do you really believe in your lie?
In this instance, let us see. Lawyer writes to the Court that Amazon has absolutely no relationship with Pierre-André Divisia with an address in Taiwan because a contract exists solely with Pierre-André Divisia, whose address is in France. Just, within Amazon own files, there are two components: One is the Commercial Contact related to the Amazon Store, and that one is indeed in France. But the second is the Financial Contact, and that one lists my Taiwanese address. Hence, it begs the question: did the lawyer commit perjury saying something that he could not ignore as being false, such as that Amazon had no knowledge of a Pierre-André Divisia in Taiwan who, therefore, had no right of action in this account?
In the 18th century, French writer Voltaire would ramble: “Lie! Lie! Lie! Something is bound to stick!”
From Voltaire to Amazon, via many others, pathological liars have proven that the method works. 3 centuries on, why change a winning formula?!
One pallet of padlocks and one pallet of Phone Support? It is not an error, it is a purposeful Lie! Just logic alone shows that 82 cartons of 48 units padlocks cannot fit a single pallet, and many deliveries that occurred before used that same setup proving it, but since the use of Logic does me a disservice, better off to lie, right? It will confuse someone at little cost, and who knows, one lie might eventually stick.
Lies also, unless you want to insult common sense and the intelligence of the Court that I own the delivery company (that I am related to it, thus implying that I am artificially inflating its invoices, rendering them questionnable). Just everything is fair game, so let’s waste everybody’s time denying all evidence, rejecting all facts, supporting the wildest theories, because that is the best I can oppose. The goal is never the search for the truth but to cloud the issue to the maximum, so that the plaintif will spend time (and therefore money) over endless explanations that I will question again later. Isn’t it amazing to be able, with a straight face, to churn so much bullshit?!
How come there isn’t something as “abuse of the law”?
And all that sprinkled of assassin sentences such as: “Amazon is forced to defend itself against reproaches without basis.”
In all fairness, it’s a good job, a case study in bad faith but a good job, let’s be honest. It will cost me an arm and a leg to list arguments to repudiate those inanities one by one (whereas, if I was authorized to face any Amazon lawyer, I could immediately call their testimony bullshit in an instant and within seconds produce a counter proof, but this is not a TV trial, there is no debate. It is expected that you use a lawyer who needs to spend the time to learn about your case, and that you will pay a handsome hourly rate to write your arguments, but any argument can be re-attacked if you have an endless supply of bad faith, and Amazon is a world champion in that category). It is a setup that is extremely detrimental to the small guy, undoubtedly. No legal help is offered in commercial disputes, also. Regrettably, Justice is not about settling right from wrong, it is about who has the better lawyers, able to formulate things in such a way that it makes legal sense, even and especially if it does not have any other basis, and let me tell you, Amazon has bought themselves the most vile, twisted lawyers on the market. After all, they face and prevail against entire governments, pay next to zero taxes world wide, treat many employees so poorly it makes global press coverage (remember the pee in the bottle drama?). To get at them, it will cost you dearly, They are true Pros, unencumbered by moral dilemmas when it comes to finishing off a family business, or squash a bug. and unless your lawyer has quite an Amazon experience himself, he will soon realize that this is a whole different league. I found out much too late that there is no such thing as a below the belt concern in that space.
So why do it, then? Because it is mostly our own cowardice that lets those bullies get away with this behavior. Let them take advantage of you once, twice, why would anyone change their ways? You have to face the bully and call him for what he is.
and a bully.
But back to the story.
Was the Appeal enough? Nope! Amazon also launches another suit in Opposition to the first ruling. Roughly the same line of attack. In all, from plaintiff I have become defendant in 2 separate lawsuits that both counter a judgement where Amazon did not bother to show up. Needless to say that I take that hit quite badly. Double expenses, time and energy to fight.
Eventually, the judge would recognize that you cannot launch 2 suits against one ruling, and will strike out one as without merits. A Win of no significance.
You know the saying: bad things always come in threes. As a third strike, Amazon will then offer me to settle, for 1/2 the amount it was condemned back in January. That judgement had stated that Amazon had to pay me, but in reality they only put the money in escrow to make sure I would not get it. Now, after 2 counter suits, they propose that we call it quits, should i agree to cut my losses and settle for 1/2 (which, with lawyer fees, means basically, stick it up my bottom). Good offer.
Why do I place this image of an email about the proposed settlement to 1/2? This one is not dangerous in any way, since the offer does not seem to attach any string, and instead proposes routes of discussion. Yes, the offer is a bit stiff, but otherwise nothing really reprehensible.
Well, I place it as a reminder that I have the email(s), along with the IP address and metadata from where it came from, so that its existence cannot be challenged, not even by my own lawyer (since, the code among professionals forbids lawyers from such disclosures, much in the same way that a priest cannot break the secrecy of the confession), and so in this instance, I can only count on those emails to back me up. Later in this thread, I will show emails that carry significantly more legal weight!
In this occasion, though, I didn’t realize what the proposal meant. The latin blood in me boils as I take the blow. That kinda hurts! But I am not about to let this pass! I am geared for battle by now, aren’t I? Battle it is, and it shall be served! I refuse your offer!
As I said, a Master. A bastard, but a Master.
What’s funny as I recall this now is to realize how all this was nothing personal but simply a perfectly executed scenario planned from day One by Amazon Legal Gurus. Cost? Minimal. Reward? Probable. Legal, absolutely. Moral? Do I look like someone who cares?
The Newbie has yet to get it, he is a bit thick, still, but it’s just another Tuesday over at Amazon Legal grotto (it’s a grotto because it’s full of nasty Gollums, naturally. Did you expect Santa?).
Pausing in the story now. I am actually going to call upon your testimony, folks, especially if you have read all this until now. If anyone else walked that slippery plank, soaked in grease by Amazon experts, and got served in somewhat similar fashion, please manifest yourself publicly as an Avatar if you wish, but let me know privately who you are and how to contact you (and your case references). Who knows, if our numbers are large enough someday, together we may consider something that, as individuals, was no match to Amazon’s experts. Journalists, regulators and the court of public opinion, we really all deserve to know what happened.
Personally, I believe that we were no accidents but victims of industrial scale abuse. I can back my own case alright, but cannot comb the court’s public proceedings alone, and I am ready to bet that many a suit got similarly handled. Do step in. Anything shared in private will remain so unless explicitly authorized otherwise. Let the word spread. Thanks.
Back on track.
In October, the tribunal would ask me to put a 500 Euro deposit to continue the proceeding (annoying, but Amazon had requested 11,000, so I guess I should breathe a sigh of relief).
Come December and the hearing date on the opposition. My lawyer did what I thought was an OK performance, but Amazon lawyer outdid themselves. Above and beyond the previously listed arguments, Amazon would pull the following additions:
In limine litis, Amazon raised exceptio judicati solvi. Yes, i also didn’t quite get it, that’s Latin (you know, legal jargon and stuff), whereby Amazon had asked 11k Euro deposit, and the court has granted them 500 as warranty two months prior.
Amazon hammers that pierre-André Divisia in Taiwan has no right to act because their contract is with Pierre-André Divisia in France. It furthers that Pierre-André Divisia in France is a company whereas Pierre-André Divisia in Taiwan is an individual.
Amazon still demands 11K Euro in various damages
Amazon still demands the whole suit be tossed because I did not mention that I was a piano juggler as a profession.
Amazon claims that because I did send 2 references under one delivery, I did go against Amazon policy, and so it was my fault something went wrong (and certainly not Amazon’s). Sorry if I beg to differ, especially when the goods just disappear.
Amazon insists that in any case, there is no contract with the plaintiff, Pierre-André Divisia, individual from Taiwan, and, amazingly, the judge will accept the argument that Pierre-André Divisia, company registered in France, is the signatory, and that while the company representative may well be the person Pierre-André Divisia in Taiwan, but that does not make him the actual signatory and contract holder. Hence, therefore, The Court accepts that Pierre-André Divisia had no right to sue in the first place, breaks the judgement of January 2019 and condemns Pierre-André Divisia to the court costs.
I… They… What?
The judge accepted what argument?!
How can this be?! How can I believe in Justice when a judge can say something like this?! I know the courts are a place where law experts battle about who will manipulate the laws in such a way that it will support their agenda, disregarding all other facts, but still! I was so convinced that the argument France / Taiwan was so preposterous that I did not give it a winning chance, and yet!
My lawyer is gutted also. Of course, it reflects poorly on him, to let such an argument skip past his guard. In a conference call, decision is immediately made to place an Appeal. That will cost another load of hours, we are already way past the original loss, but from there on, it is a matter of Principle!
When I think about it, what a load of dishonest people! I had to fight months on end with Amazon Operations to no avail, and now I fight an even worse opponent with Amazon legal teams whose sole job it is to crush everything in their way, with total disregard to the truth, morals and the facts. And Justice, blind lady justice not giving a damn about the facts either, rules for the abuser. How can you not be revolted?!
Below, the full judgement, should you be interested in seeing how this is put together.
The full judgement, in French, translated into English via Google.
Again, those are public documents that anyone can get from the Court Registry in Luxembourg, copied here for convenience.
I take neither pride nor shame to parade myself in such a way. I share this story as it happened. It is not a glorious tale of standing up to abuse, nor is it a cautionary story to warn of the dangers of legal battles, but I trust that someone out there will see past the example and come out stronger for his own battle. It is not fun, because entire families gets affected, because you see your efforts reduced to ruin by an implacable bully. Because it is just not a fair battle, and yet it has to be fought. I am quite certain that this Amazon lawyer sleeps well at night, content with himself and his day’s work.
So, where are we at this stage? Well, now we enter a game of “he says, I say”, and when we have both exhausted our arguments, the final conclusion will go before another judge in another court, without any of the first judges involved in the review. One after the other, My lawyer and Amazon lawyer write about the case and explain to this new judge why he believes the ruling was wrong, or, on the other hand, why that ruling was good, given that the other party is so bad. All that jazz! As you can guess, we get to see some wild arguments.
Well, pushing its advantage, naturally, making sure that is explained at length the France vs. Taiwan argument. I am fairly confident that we ought to prevail this time. It was so obvious that we overlooked the argument, but as we painfully realized, nothing is ever evident unless backed by exact laws, previous legal rulings and similar precedent. This time, we’re getting ready with a full book from LegiFrance to push the applicable texts to the judge.
Arguing about a need for a significantly enhanced security deposit? No surprise.
Arguing that I acted in bad faith throughout. Funny that for 7 years, pretending to be from Taiwan when the contract is in France, and yet managed everything from Taiwan. They call me in Taiwan when needed, send me emails in Traditional Chinese, and now that we demand explanations, suddenly being in Taiwan is a move to have Amazon incur translation expenses, based on continuous false pretenses (wow guys, now you really are impressive)!
Ah, a new one too, the judge is incompetent to rule and should dismiss the suit altogether once more.
Another new one. It is now many years since the facts, so the action has passed and there is judicial prescription.
Lies about the receipts, what they say, what the transporter says, nothing new here.
Complaints that Amazon is being persecuted: why is only Amazon sued, what about the Transporter? He is surely the one who lost the goods!
That there is no proof anything was sent in the first place
The invoices are inflated (again) because the transport company belongs to the plaintiff
How Amazon has always shown its best goodwill, whereas the other side just makes things impossible with his delays, bad faith and plain lies.
Those are all part of Amazon’s written arguments to the Court as of today
Now, allow me to recall a piece of the oath lawyers in Luxembourg have to take: “I swear loyalty to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, obedience to the Constitution and to the laws of the State; not to deviate from the respect due to the courts; not to advise or defend any cause that I will not believe in my soul and conscience.”
Now, someone tells me: does it really appear to you that, in this very instance, given the above, can this lawyer believe in the Amazon cause, in his soul and conscience? Does anyone see respect to the court and the rule of law?
I believe that in his efforts to the defense of his client, it is possible that this lawyer may have gone above and beyond the ethics of his profession and this could, at the very least, constitute oathbreaking.
Along the same line, as pointed before, it could be argued that willful Perjury was committed if he stated facts that he could not ignore to be false to the Court. Finally, dear reader, I submit to you one last question: How do you call dangling a potential reward to another person’s face if he signs documents that will absolve his client of any wrongdoing? And to assure the message is well understood, in parallel add to it the sudden reduction to 1/20th of the volume he is allowed to store on Amazon and to 1/15th in units of articles, effectively reducing my capacity to such levels that I would simply have no alternative but abandon. A mere coincidence, surely!
That’s right, recall what was foretold right at the beginning of this thread. Amazon proposed me to settle everything for 100% of the original dues, plus compensation, with help in getting back onto the Amazon platforms where, today, I can no longer properly operate (Inventory Performance index adjustment limits me too much to continue – but I am proposed advice from Amazon lawyers to warrant a safe and complete return on Amazon platforms). In March. April, May and September 2021, Amazon extended several such offers via my own lawyer who cannot, due to the ethics of the profession, neither confirm nor deny anything now. It’s OK as I do not need his word, I have the emails, and their origins are unquestionable.
After 5 years of fighting tooth and nail? Offering me not only everything I asked for in the first place, but promising to help me back onto Amazon platform where O, surprise! I can no longer operate due to coincidental volume restrictions (accidental or retaliation)? All this if I just agree to sign a paper that absolves Amazon of any wrongdoing and warrants that I never talk of this to anyone, or that I ever again testify against them?
So while Amazon writes its conclusions to the judge telling him how unfair it was being treated, they, hush hush, also try to settle for everything, out of court and out of sight?
Playing the Ethics game with my lawyer, sealing his lips that he cannot testify to this?
Maybe it could still be a tempting offer, because getting back on Amazon could mean getting back to possibly hundreds of thousand Euro turnover per year as I did before, so I guess I could look at my own interest, but would I trust them to keep their word? After 5 years of genuine hell?
If I wanted back on Amazon, I’d need just register another company elsewhere, recruit a front man as contact ID and just manage everything in the shadows, being extra careful not to show myself. Naturally, I’d like to be able to go back and operate my business openly, it was successful, and my customers were satisfied, I presume. But since Amazon does not play by the rules, and because I am not too keen on bullies or Damocles swords hanging above my head, I’ll go another route, share insights on this page, and collect as many stories as I can. With strength in numbers, if more people can be encouraged to share their own story, Amazon may finally face the Justice it mocks and perverts with impunity for too long. Meanwhile, I will do my best to keep testifying.
Anyone wanting to reach me? Any journalist in need of a trove of source material? My contact details are right on this site.