Amazon is the single largest online retailer in the US, and there are many tips and tricks you need to know when you shop there. With this market dominating position, it’s clear that third-party sellers and manufacturers will do everything to get at least one slice of the cake. As such, the Californian attorney general suspects that Amazon is misusing its power, preventing competitors from emerging and dictating prices. To combat these alleged practices, California has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company.
According to the New York Times, the suit focuses mostly on the fact that Amazon appears to punish merchants or other sellers who sell their products cheaper on other platforms, like their own or other marketplaces. According to the lawsuit, Amazon routinely removes convenient buttons like “Buy now” and “Add to cart” from individual product’s listing pages when the company spots a cheaper price in other places.
As the New York Times describes, this is a problem. Rather than lose the convenient buttons on their Amazon listings or be banished from the platform altogether, companies will keep prices on other platforms at least as high as they are on Amazon, which creates higher prices across the board. It’s a shame, as sellers would often be able to offer products cheaper elsewhere, like when they rely on their own website with their own logistics.
The lawsuit reads, “Without basic price competition, without different online sites trying to outdo each other with lower prices, prices artificially stabilize at levels higher than would be the case in a competitive market.”
The California decision to sue comes in the same week as Google’s record EU fine was largely confirmed by a court. At the same time, US regulators have also started looking more closely at big tech and how its grasp on the online world is making it harder for emerging competitors to gain a foothold. A new bill that has yet to pass Congress is supposed to make it easier for regulators to step in, helping create a better online landscape for everyone of us.