You may have missed this, but last month Amazon quietly settled a mysterious investigation by the U.S. Postal Service by paying a "nominal amount" to keep it out of court. TechFlash reported it at the time and got little in the way of answers from either party over what the investigation was about or how much money changed hands. Now, after a Freedom of Information Act request forced out some answers, it seems that "nominal amount" may have not been so nominal--at least not by normal human standards.
Amazon first disclosed that it was being investigated by the U.S. Postal Service back in January 2009.
The internet giant was cryptic at the time, so when they didn't get any answers TechFlash filed the FOIA request with the U.S. Postal Service.
That request came back this week. The disclosure shows that Amazon paid $1.5 million to the USPS to to keep an investigation over its mailing practices from going to court.
The USPS investigation itself centered on "improperly mailed products," mainly video games that it said Amazon had not paid proper postage for. It wasn't just a few items either, the skimped postage, the agency says, went on for three years from Jan. 1, 2006 to Jan. 31, 2009.
Obviously, $1.5 million isn't going to dent Amazon's coffers greatly. That's why the lengths the company went to avoid disclosing the information seems more than slightly odd.
Either way, it's no surprise that the USPS would try and collect every penny of postage it was owed. The agency is facing an expected loss this year of around $7 billion and has talked about cutting Saturday deliveries and staff as a way of coping.
So while $1.5 million may not be much for Amazon, it may keep a few more mail carriers on their routes making undercharged video games deliveries for Amazon.