Briefing

Amazon accused of forcing sellers to use expensive logistic services

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An online merchant has complained to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that Amazon coerces sellers into using its logistics services, which the complainant—who asked to remain anonymous—said cost as much as 35 per cent more than competitors. The merchant said they’ve had to make up for the cost by raising prices. Amazon denied the allegations, saying it does not penalize sellers for using alternative logistics services and that its services are competitively priced. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: The complainant’s claim about having to raise prices to cover costs could prove crucial, since demonstrating harm to consumers is the traditional basis for antitrust cases in the U.S. If the complaint successfully proves the firm is leveraging its online-selling dominance to prop up its less-established logistics services it could serve as the basis for an antitrust case, or play into the FTC’s ongoing investigation of Amazon’s marketplace. The regulator is currently interviewing sellers as part of the early stages of that probe. Amazon also faces scrutiny of its marketplace from another regulator: the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the firm, among others, has an unfair advantage over third-party merchants on its platform.