To find out if Amazon is utilizing its market power to hurt competition, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) team of investigators has started to interview small businesses that sell items on Amazon. Multiple attorneys, as well as one economist at a minimum, have been conducting interviews that tend to last roughly an hour and a half that cover many topics, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (Sept. 11), citing unnamed merchants.
“Early in an investigation, that’s a sign of staff doing a serious job,” Michael Kades, who spent 20 years at the commission, said per Bloomberg. “They’re spending lots of time with witnesses and trying to really understand what they’re saying.”
The interviews reportedly indicate that the organization is in the midst of the beginning stages of a probe to determine how the eCommerce retailer works, identify markets the company dominates and find practices that go against the law. Antitrust experts say, according to the report, that the manpower devoted to looking at Amazon and interview length point to an inquiry that is serious as opposed to just responding to complaints.
Amazon did not comment per the report, but it pointed to a statement that Jeff Wilke, consumer business chief, made in June when he was asked about reports that the agency was looking into the eCommerce retailer. “We believe that most substantial entities in the economy deserve scrutiny,” he said at the time, according to the report. He added, “Our job is to build the kind of company that passes that scrutiny with flying colors.”
In reports earlier this year, it was noted that Amazon could be on tap to receive more antitrust scrutiny under an agreement by regulators in the United States. According to a published report that cited people familiar with the matter, under the agreement the FTC more closely regulates the eCommerce giant
It comes as the FTC and the Department of Justice reportedly quietly split up the oversight of competition for the nation’s large tech companies.