September 24, 2008 – Washington, DC — This week, in prepared remarks delivered to the U.S. Congress, National Retail Federation executive Joe LaRocca insulted American online sellers of goods by drawing parallels between their activities and those of drug addicts and criminals.  NetChoice, a coalition of companies that is dedicated to removing barriers to eCommerce, calls on Mr. LaRocca and the NRF to publicly apologize to the millions of Americans who have ever sold anything online. 

“There are millions of hard-working Americans who use the Internet to build a new business, reach new customers, or just to put a little extra cash in their pockets during tough times, and they play a critical role in our economy,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice. “At a time when big companies are looking to the government for bailouts, these entrepreneurs are working to create new jobs, pay their taxes, and build something for their future. They are the true innovators — the hardest working, most productive workers in the world – and they deserve better than to be labeled as addicts and criminals by the mouthpiece for giant retail chains who are afraid of a little competition.”

In his comments, found here, LaRocca claims that legitimate sellers become “hooked” by the “addictive qualities” of selling online, and that these sellers begin to steal so that they can “support their online selling habit.” They came in his testimony to a House Subcommittee hearing to discuss legislation that would give big retailers free reign to harass and intimidate small online businesses and the marketplaces where they sell.

“That was more than rhetorical excess for LaRocca to insult grandmothers selling shawls and small businesses working nonstop to stay alive, The fact is, the NRF is pushing its competition-killing legislation through Congress right now,” continued DelBianco. “With our economy teetering, demonizing the very people who are creating businesses and offering value-conscious consumers more choice is not only insulting, it’s destructive and dangerous.”