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Amazon Probed by U.S. Antitrust Officials Over Marketplace

Amazon probed by U.S. antitrust officials over marketplace

11.9.2019

Amazon probed by U.S. antitrust officials over marketplace

(Bloomberg) -- A team of Federal Trade Commission investigators has begun interviewing small businesses that sell products on Amazon.com Inc. to determine whether the e-commerce giant is using its market power to hurt competition.Several attorneys and at least one economist have been conducting interviews

Amazon shares fell less than 1% to $1,812 at 9:36 a.m. in New York.

Amazon declined to comment and pointed to a statement Consumer Business chief Jeff Wilke made in June when asked about reports that the FTC was looking into Amazon. ”We believe that most substantial entities in the economy deserve scrutiny,” he said. “Our job is to build the kind of company that passes that scrutiny with flying colors.” The FTC declined to comment.

The FTC is also seeking to determine the extent of Amazon’s power over its suppliers. All three merchants fielded questions on how much of their revenue comes from Amazon compared with other online platforms. Many sellers get 90% or more of their sales from Amazon, making them vulnerable to the company’s demands and abrupt, unexplained changes in its policy.

Story continuesThe FTC’s interest in Amazon is spreading to sellers via word-of-mouth. Some merchants fear incurring Amazon’s wrath by cooperating with the agency. One who spoke with an FTC attorney said he was assured the conversation would be confidential unless it led to an official complaint against Amazon or the transcript was subpoenaed by Congress.

“I told them if Amazon suspends you, it’s like a death knell,” said Karnani, who has been selling on the site for two years. “I told them when Amazon shuts you off, they sit on your money for 90 days and there’s nothing you can do. They were surprised about that.”

Another Amazon merchant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he spent about 90 minutes on the phone with an FTC investigator in July and has since provided the agency with documents and data.

To contact the authors of this story: Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.netBen Brody in Washington at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net

Read more: Yahoo News

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