Amazon has been ordered to pay $2.25 million and permanently halt a previously suspended sales program after the Washington Attorney General’s investigation and complaint that it was essentially price-fixing.
The suit focused on a program that the Seattle-based company started in 2018 to let sellers use its pricing algorithm. Called Sold by Amazon, the program guaranteed sellers a minimum price while offering a potential upside if the algorithm determined that customers were willing to pay more.
Ferguson’s lawsuit alleged that Amazon violated antitrust laws and “unreasonably restrained competition in order to maximize its own profits off third-party sales” by agreeing on prices with these sellers instead of competing with them.
“Consumers lose when corporate giants like Amazon fix prices to increase their profits,” Ferguson said in a press release. “Today’s action promotes product innovation and consumer choice, and makes the market more competitive for sellers in Washington state and across the country.”
The Federal Trade Commission has pursued an inquiry into the company and is considering whether to approve its purchase of the MGM movie studio. European regulators brought their own antitrust charges against Amazon in 2020, saying it took advantage of the small merchants that used its marketplace. Last week, a Senate committee advanced legislation that could stop Amazon from favoring its own products over those of the other sellers on its site. The company has fought the bill aggressively, sending sellers to talk to lawmakers and claiming the legislation could force it to stop outside merchants from reaching its customers.