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Amazon Must Face ‘Fair Pricing’ Case Judge Rules

 |  March 14, 2022

A federal Judge in Seattle ruled Amazon must face consumer antitrust litigation challenging “most favored nation”-style policies that have allegedly driven up the prices of “virtually all products offered for sale” online in the US. 

Judge Richard A. Jones let the proposed class action move forward in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, where a group of consumers has accused Amazon of reinstituting its MFN rules—after pledging to abandon them—in the form of so-called “fair pricing” agreements, reported Bloomberg Law.

A pair of frequent Amazon shoppers, backed by major plaintiffs’ firms, filed proposed class actions in May of 2021 in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, claiming Amazon is unlawfully enforcing “most favored nation” price policies against third-party sellers on its platform.

The provisions allegedly bar merchants who make up “the heart” of Amazon’s business from offering lower prices elsewhere. Because Amazon’s “hefty fees” make it one of the more expensive places to sell goods online, the MFN clauses drive up prices across the internet, according to the complaints.

The company’s MFN system “cements its stranglehold over sellers, because it prevents competing platforms from gaining scale by offering lower commissions to sellers and lower prices to consumers,” one of the lawsuits says.

 the new complaints accuse of Amazon of reinstituting the MFN agreements—now styled as “price parity provisions” or a “fair pricing policy”—after promising the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 that it would drop them.

Amazon “pretended to withdraw” the MFN policy, according to one of the suits. The move “was merely sleight of hand,” the other says.

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