The Federal Trade Commission of the United States (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday in which it accuses the company of exercising a "monopoly power" to prevent its competitors in the world of online sales and the sellers of the platform themselves from selling their products below the prices set by the company.
"Amazon's actions allowed it to prevent rivals and sellers from lowering prices, hurt quality for shoppers, overpaid sellers, stifled innovation and prevented rivals from competing fairly against them," the U.S. government agency said in a statement. The FTC estimates in "hundreds of billions of dollars a year" the damage caused by Amazon to the distribution sector and in more than 100 million buyers affected by the measure.
The lawsuit accuses Amazon of penalizing in the search criteria sellers on its platform who tried to sell their products at a lower price than the one set by the company.
In a very harsh tone, the US agency does not hesitate to label these practices as "punitive" for those affected "and accuses the company of raising market prices and harming millions of families in the country.
"Rarely in the history of U.S. antitrust law has the U.S. been a single person in the history of antitrust law. In the U.S., one case has had the potential to do so much good for so many people," says FTC Competition Director John Newman.
Among the tactics detailed by the indictment, Amazon tracks its sellers and condemns them to the bottom of searches if it offers products or sells them cheaper elsewhere.
In addition, if a seller of the platform chooses to get the Prime label, basic to have access to the most frequent customers of the brand and "a virtual need to do business on Amazon" in the face of the market supervisor, the giant forces to use its compliance guarantee service, which requires such high guarantees that, according to the FTC, it makes it difficult for a company that uses it to sell online anywhere other than Amazon.
The lawsuit goes further and points out that the technology has progressively degraded Amazon's search experience with "junk ads" that harm the user experience, while manipulating the search engine to place its products above others that Amazon itself knows are of better quality.
Another point considered abusive by the FTC and the 17 state attorneys general that accompany the accusation is the structure of payments for doing business on Amazon created by the technology, which increases as the seller begins to depend more on the products he distributes with the company created by Jeff Bezos and can reach almost 50% of its turnover through the marketplace, thus forcing prices to rise and thus harming the consumer.