Seems fair enough actually

Nine MPs claimed Amazon Prime subscriptions on their parliamentary expenses, giving them access to the service’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters and Jeremy Clarkson’s The Grand Tour.

Some of them said it was a mistake, or were caught in a “subscription trap” after taking out a free trial, the Daily Mirror reports after new figures were revealed.

No, not the excuses.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, responsible for handling expenses claims, told the paper subscriptions could be claimed but MPs must “justify the subscription is primarily used for parliamentary purposes”.

That. As an MP you’re running two offices which need all the usual office supplies. I’m a little out of date of course but back when everyone used to buy from the world’s worst toupee, the Viking Catalogue. You set up an account and then got your office gubbins delivered. These days I can well imagine an Amazon Prime account being used to do the same.

As long as, you know, it is to deliver the office gubbins. If it’s used to crank one out to Pammie Does Parliament on those lonely nights away from the family then hang them all.

20 comments on “Seems fair enough actually

  1. I can understand the subscription trap. To this day I have no idea how I became an Amazon Premium (as it is in France) member, I certainly don’t remember signing up for it. I kept it because it’s actually quite good.

  2. It is very, very easy to get your self inadvertently signed up and it is also much more difficult to find the mechanism to get yourself out of it.

  3. Got caught by it, myself. Omitted to untick the enrolment box when ordering something because it’s ticked by default.
    And I do use Amazon a lot. Sourcing stuff in Spain’s a pain. The Spanish are very much also rans on the e-commerce thing & their retailer websites are a joke. Where they work at all, they tell you what a wonderful company they are, with a picture of the shop but bugger all about what they sell or how much.
    But did I keep the Prime option? No. Absent the media service, it’s the VIP premium for the instant gratification shopper. I run my affairs so a 3/4 day lead time’s no problem. Which is how I’d expect MPs to run their affairs. Not subscribe with other people’s money. MPs aren’t VIPs.

  4. The “subscription trap” excuse is bollocks, because if it wasn’t legal to claim it on expenses they shouldn’t have signed up for it using whatever card/entity they use for MPs expenses.

    These are just the brighter, more shifty ones who remembered there was a minor hysteria a week ago in Parliament about “subscription traps”.

  5. If it is justified for office expenses, then it is claimable. Hell, it saves you a small fortune in postage fees, for a start (and things like printer toner are the sort of thing that is likely to jump out as an immediate requirement and bite a small office.)

    If it is also then used for Pammie, Rocco, or even, shudders, Clarkson, then who cares? We’ve already justified paying for it. It doesn’t cost any more.

  6. Rocco: If you have a strong enough stomach to do that BluLabour haddock you are an epic character indeed and Amazon Prime should give you your own series right away.

  7. I’ve never found anything on Prime (since they changed the terms) that was actually free delivery, rather than the same item available cheaper elsewhere with a bit extra charged to cover delivery. So there is no actual justification for being signed up to Prime just to get cheap deliveries. However someone not terribly good at purchasing decisions might mistakenly think it was a good idea.

    So, as usual, you can choose to believe they’re incompetent rather than dishonest if you prefer.

  8. What’s the “world’s worst toupee, the Viking Catalogue” thing? I’ve obviously missed a vital cultural reference there.

  9. I don’t have a problem with it being a legitimate business expense, it is worrying that some of those who presume to rule over us can’t figure out how to unsubscribe, though.

  10. Local transit card automatically saves your credit card if you pay online unless you remember to untick the box every time which is very naughty as they also have an auto load feature for saved cards.
    The email notice that you have added a card simply says your contact details have been updated with no explanation.
    Sometimes these things can be sneaky

  11. I see tons of posts on the amazon buyers forum about being charged when they have not signed up for it.
    Free trial – they cannot figure out the rest of the wording when they see that.

    An amazon prime subscription is good, cheap goods delivered very quickly for free. If I order this afternoon I can get the goods tomorrow. Which is faster than most places.

  12. @SE
    So what’s the express premium on a one off delivery of toner cartridges? More than £79?
    If they’re incapable of organising office material supply what makes them think they capable of participating in running a nation?

  13. There are plenty of ways in which MPs exploit their position — above average pay increases, subsidised booze and dining — but Amazon Prime subscriptions are not one I can get steamed up about. With two offices to run, I’d expect them to have subscribed. And if they are using Amazon, then at least they aren’t diverting public funds to (say) the wife’s cousin’s office supplies business.

  14. Theophrastus,

    None of it is a priority to me as it’s dwarfed by the cost of collosal fuckups like HS1, HS2, Connecting for Health and the Iraq war. HS2 alone is £75m per MP. If an MP votes against that and spends a few grand of expenses on hookers and blow, is he worse than someone who votes for it and then doesn’t?

  15. Signed up for 30 day free trial while in US visiting my parents. Of course I forgot to cancel it and completely forgot about it until I got the reminder almost a year later that my subscription was about to renew. Went ahead and cancelled right then and because I hadn’t actually used it all year I got a full refund for the year that was just ending. Thought that was quite nice of them. I do use Prime on my UK account. I think it’s awesome and the video/music service is just a bonus.

  16. I used to work in a party admin office that shared space with an MPs’ office. We ordered loads of stationary stuff through Viking which resulted in unexpected deliveries of free radios, free staplers, free chocolates, free mugs, all automatic bonuses of the mundane daily stuff we were buying.

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