Amazon settled a price-fixing investigation by the Washington state attorney general’s office on Wednesday, agreeing to pay $2.25 million and end a program that allowed it to control the prices of products sold by sellers. third party offering in its marketplace.
The lawsuit centers on a program the Seattle-based company started in 2018 to allow sellers to use its pricing algorithm. Called Sell by Amazon, the program guarantees sellers a minimum price while providing the ability to raise prices if the algorithm determines that customers are willing to pay more.
The attorney general’s complaint says the algorithm has harmed consumers in part because it sets the minimum price as the “floor” of what Amazon offers to customers, “meaning that participating sellers have limit, if any, their ability to discount the product without withdrawing the product” from the program.
Glenn Kuper, an Amazon spokesman, said in a statement that the effort was “small” and meant to “provide another tool to help sellers offer lower prices.” While Amazon is “happy that this matter is resolved,” he said, the company believes the scheme is legit. Amazon discontinued Sell by Amazon in 2020, and under the agreement pledged to no longer offer it.
Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, said in a statement announcing the settlement that it “promotes product innovation and consumer choice, while making markets more competitive for consumers.” sold in Washington State and nationally.”
Amazon is facing great pressure in the United States and abroad over its business activities. The Federal Trade Commission has pursued an investigation into the company and is looking into whether to approve its purchase of MGM studios. European regulatory authorities have put their own antitrust fees against Amazon in 2020, saying it took advantage of small merchants already using its marketplace.
Last week, a Senate Committee on Advanced Law that could prevent Amazon from preferring its own products over the products of other sellers on its site. The company fought fiercely with the bill, sending sellers to talk to lawmakers and claiming that the law could force them to prevent outside merchants from accessing their customers.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/technology/amazon-price-fixing-settlement-washington.html Amazon pays $2.25 million to settle a price fixing investigation.