California has filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon of using its market influence to prevent merchants from offering buyers better deals elsewhere online, in violation of state antitrust law.
Amazon pressures merchants not to list items at lower prices on other websites, which hurts sellers and consumers, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in the lawsuit.
“Amazon coerces merchants into agreements that keep prices artificially high, knowing full well that they can’t afford to say no,” Bonta said in a release. “Many of the products we buy online would be cheaper if market forces were left unconstrained.”
The attorney general in Washington had filed a similar suit against Amazon, but a judge dismissed the case in March.
“Similar to the DC Attorney General — whose complaint was dismissed by the courts — the California Attorney General has it exactly backwards,” an Amazon spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.
“The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law.”
Amazon is such a dominant e-commerce site that merchants feel they have little choice when it comes to agreeing to the titan’s selling conditions, Bonta’s lawsuit argued.
Those demands include agreeing not to offer lower prices elsewhere, whether it be at Amazon rivals such as Walmart or a merchant’s own website, the suit said.