Amazon Petitions FTC to Back Down on ‘Unduly Burdensome’ Subpoenas

amazon, jeff bezo, FTC, subpoenas, investigation, Civil Investigative Demands

A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) probe into Amazon Prime and its other subscription services has become “unduly burdensome” to employees and executives after at least 19 were served individual subpoenas, according to an omnibus petition filed by Amazon.

Amazon accuses the FTC of harassing founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy as well as other employees and executives, and said the individual subpoenas — or Civil Investigative Demands — to give evidence are unreasonable. 

FTC officials targeted employees’ homes to serve subpoenas, making requests that were “unduly burdensome, and calculated to serve no other purpose than to harass Amazon’s highest-ranking executives and disrupt its business operations,” according to Amazon’s legal filing. 

The petition further stated that having to brief Bezos and Jassy to testify on “granular” details would be a “tremendous burden on them.” 

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Amazon is asking the FTC to “quash or limit” the individual subpoenas due to “unworkable and unfair” procedures that it describes as a “one-sided effort to force Amazon to meet impossible-to-satisfy demands.”

The FTC’s probe expanded beyond Amazon Prime to four additional subscription services: Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, and Subscribe & Save. As part of the investigation, the FTC asked Amazon to identify the number of shoppers who became “nonconsensual enrollees” and “diverted cancels” across all of the subscription services, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (Aug. 16).

Read more: PYMNTS Intelligence: How to Avoid Becoming a Consumer’s Unwanted Subscription

In addition, the FTC’s investigation also asked Amazon to search for executives using “ephemeral messaging” apps to chat about Prime program enrollment and cancellation processes and about a log created of those disappearing messages, FT reported.

The regulator started investigating Amazon in March 2021 over the techniques used to attract customers to its Prime subscription service, which costs $139 annually for free delivery, video, and other perks. The FTC is also examining whether Amazon unfairly complicates the process for customers who want to cancel their membership.

Amazon and FTC spokespeople declined to comment to Financial Times and couldn’t be reached by PYMNTS by press time.