What just happened? Canada and Germany’s antitrust watchdogs are the latest entities to focus their attention on Amazon’s business practices, after the US and the EU started their sweeping antitrust probes into Big Tech’s monopolistic behavior. German authorities are interested to see how Amazon treats third-party traders selling on its site and whether it uses their data to make its own competing products.
According to a Reuters report, Germany is also looking at accusations that the retail giant has been using predatory prices to corner the competition in profitable markets, especially since the country is Amazon’s second biggest market after the US.
Canada’s Competition Bureau is similarly interested in how independent sellers are treated on Amazon’s Marketplace, and is currently taking input from affected parties. Canadian authorities are also reviewing the retail giant’s policies to determine if accusations that sellers are coerced into using the Fulfillment By Amazon program are true or not.
The Competition Bureau fined Amazon $756,000 in 2017 for deceiving customers with supposed savings on several products.
More recently, some companies like Sonos have accused Amazon for selling its Echo speakers below cost, while activists have pointed out that gradually increasing seller fees could be the reason why its power over competitors cannot be underestimated.
On the other hand, Amazon has increased its efforts against third-party sellers on its platform that try to ramp up prices on essential medical supplies and other products that have been popular since the start of the pandemic. The company also denies that it engages in any price-fixing schemes, and explained that its policies are “designed to make sure our partners set competitive prices.”
These investigations hinge a lot on similar action from the US and the EU, the latter of which could fine Amazon to the tune of $28 billion depending on the outcome of its investigation.