FTC’s Amazon Antitrust Suit Could Arrive This Month

Amazon lawsuit

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly set to sue Amazon later this month.

The antitrust suit, the result of a four-year probe into the mammoth retailer, is “likely” to arrive soon, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday (Sept. 5), citing sources familiar with the matter.

Those sources say the lawsuit is expected to focus on Amazon’s marketplace, where third-party merchants — responsible for a majority of the site’s sales — have complained the company forces them to use its logistics service in exchange for better placement on its site.

PYMNTS has the FTC for comment but has not yet received a reply. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment.

Last month saw reports that Amazon was going to impose a new fee on third-party sellers that don’t use its logistics services. A report by Bloomberg — citing company documents — said that thousands of merchants that handle their own shipping would have to pay a 2% fee on each sale, along with the commission they already pay to sell products on Amazon’s platform.

“Seller Fulfilled Prime is a voluntary, optional program that enables sellers who independently handle the fulfillment of their products to have their offers receive the Prime badge,” a company spokesperson told PYMNTS.

“Due in part to the investment needed to develop and run this program and associated costs, there is a small fee associated with units sold through this program.”

Still, the fee has drawn criticism from sellers, especially in light of the antitrust suit.

News of the suit follows reports from August that company officials met with FTC commissioners and Chairperson Lina Khan. Gatherings of that sort are known as “last rites” meetings, considered the final step before the FTC votes to file a lawsuit.

The expected lawsuit follows one filed in June by the FTC, in which the commission alleged Amazon “tricked and trapped” millions of consumers into enrolling in its Amazon Prime subscription service without their permission, and also made it difficult for them to cancel.

Amazon has called the FTC’s claims “false on the facts and the law.”

And in May, the FTC announced a $5.8 million settlement with Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera unit after the agency said cameras had been used for spying on some customers. The company also agreed to pay $25 million to settle FTC allegations that it had violated children’s right to privacy by failing to delete Alexa virtual assistant recordings at their parents’ request.

Rumors that the FTC could file a wide-ranging antitrust case against Amazon had circulated for months. As noted here at the time, Khan’s past remarks would suggest she would be unwilling to settle with Amazon, and would instead ask the court to restructure the company.