eCommerce giant Amazon is looking into allegations that employees are offering merchants internal data and confidential information that can help them boost sales, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The report, citing sellers who have been offered and purchased the data, reported employees, with the aid of middlemen, are violating company policies by offering up access to the information for a fee. The practice is widespread in China in part because the number of sellers in the country is growing. The report noted employees in China have small salaries, which makes them more willing to take risks such as selling information.
According to the WSJ, the payments ranged from $80 to $2000 with Amazon workers selling internal sales metrics and reviewers email addresses. They also sold a service to delete negative reviews and restore merchants that were banned, noted the WSJ. Amazon is currently investigating several incidents involving employees, including some based in the U.S., people familiar with the matter told the paper.
Eric Broussard, vice president of international marketplaces at Amazon, was tipped off to the practice in May, noted the report. That resulted in the investigation. Some key roles in China have been changed in an effort to pinpoint and stop the practice, reported the WSJ. Amazon is also working internally to stop merchants from trying to work the system — but it can be hard to find the culprits as they get more sophisticated, former Amazon executives and other people familiar with the company’s thinking told the WSJ. A spokeswoman for the company told the paper it has strict policies and codes of conducts in place.
“We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties,” she added in a statement to the WSJ. The spokeswoman noted Amazon has zero tolerance for those that abuse the systems. “If we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them,” she said.