DC attorney general files antitrust lawsuit against Amazon
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine (D) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon Tuesday, alleging that the e-commerce giant has unfairly raised prices and hurt innovation.
The lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court claims that Amazon has engaged in anti-competitive business practices including not allowing third-party sellers to offer their products at lower prices elsewhere and imposing excessive fees.
The suit alleges that those practices have passed on fees to consumers in the form of higher prices, prevents other platforms from competing and takes away choices from consumers.
“Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs,” Racine said in a statement. “It maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation, and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor.”
Amazon claimed in 2019 to end the pricing policy that barred retailers from selling their products at a lower price or on better terms. However, according to the lawsuit, the company quickly replaced it with another policy that allows the platform to sanction or remove sellers that partake in this activity.
The lawsuit calls for relief including blocking Amazon from harming current or future competitors through “structural relief” and conduct remedies.
An Amazon spokesperson told The Hill that the lawsuit has the situation “exactly backwards.”
“Sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” they continued in a statement. “Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively.”
The lawsuit comes amid tight antitrust scrutiny of Big Tech companies. The Justice Department has brought a case against Google, while the Federal Trade Commission has brought a case against Facebook.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have decried the alleged monopoly power of these companies and have promised more legislation to revamp antitrust enforcement.
— Updated at 12:47 p.m.