AG says he pressured Amazon to close down “illegal price-fixing” program

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Cardboard boxes made to resemble Amazon packages, but with the logo in the shape of a frown.
Enlarge / Cardboard containers made to resemble Amazon packages throughout a protest outdoors the house of Amazon Chief Government Officer Jeff Bezos in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

Amazon should shut down the price-fixing program often called “Offered by Amazon” (SBA) underneath a legally binding decision introduced immediately by Washington State Lawyer Common Bob Ferguson. Amazon had already suspended this system amid an investigation, however the settlement prevents this system from being restarted.

“The ‘Offered by Amazon’ program allowed the web retailer to agree on value with third-party sellers, fairly than compete with them,” the announcement stated. Ferguson alleged that Amazon violated antitrust legal guidelines by “unreasonably restrain[ing] competitors with the intention to maximize its personal income off third-party gross sales” and that “this conduct constituted illegal price-fixing.”

Ferguson filed a lawsuit in opposition to Amazon and the consent decree in King County Superior Court docket immediately.

“As a part of the legally enforceable consent decree, Amazon should cease the ‘Offered by Amazon’ program nationwide and supply the Lawyer Common’s Workplace with annual updates on its compliance with antitrust legal guidelines,” Ferguson’s announcement stated. Amazon may also pay $2.25 million that the AG’s workplace will use to assist antitrust enforcement. The requirement for Amazon to offer annual updates lasts 5 years.

Amazon “glad to have this matter resolved”

Offered by Amazon started in 2018, and Amazon suspended this system in June 2020 after Washington state started investigating it. Ferguson’s lawsuit stated that Amazon suspended this system “in a fashion that may very well be effectively and successfully resumed” at any time, however the consent decree forbids Amazon from restarting it. The consent decree additionally forbids Amazon from providing a brand new program with the identical phrases and situations, no matter whether or not this system makes use of the Offered by Amazon identify.

When contacted by Ars, Amazon stated, “This was a small program to offer one other device to assist sellers provide decrease costs, very similar to comparable packages frequent amongst different retailers, that has since been discontinued. Whereas we strongly consider this system was authorized, we’re glad to have this matter resolved.” Amazon additionally claimed it discontinued this system “for enterprise causes unrelated to the AG’s investigation.”

Within the settlement, Washington agreed to launch Amazon “from all claims that the State asserted or might have asserted within the Grievance primarily based upon previous conduct.” The doc says that Washington could “pursu[e] any legislation enforcement motion with respect to the acts or practices of Amazon not lined by this Consent Decree or any acts or practices carried out after the Efficient Date of this Consent Decree.”



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