Amazon could soon go to court over its use of the Buy Box which highlights purchase offers. The Guardian reports lawyers file class action lawsuit in UK Competition Appeal Tribunal more claims that the Buy Box is “cheating” buyers into paying more than they should. Consumer advocate Julie Hunter says the section favors either Amazon’s own products or sellers who use the company’s logistics, not the best price or best quality of service. A better offer could be buried further down the page or even hidden in a “dark corner” of the site, adds Hunter.
Co-leading attorney Lesley Hannah argues that users rely heavily on the Buy Box, with up to 90% of purchases going through this space. “Millions” of buyers probably paid too much as a result. Supposedly, the practice also violates competition requirements by stifling sellers with better deals.
The lawsuit seeks damages of £900 million (about $1 billion). It covers any UK resident who has made purchases since October 2016 and does not require you to register.
Amazon tells The Guardian in a statement that he believes the lawsuit is “without merit.” It maintains that it supports all sellers in its UK market and that “more than half” of sales of physical goods in the country are through independent sellers. It did not directly address the alleged manipulation of the Buy Box. The company has recently asked sellers to oppose antitrust laws intended to prevent tech giants from giving their services an unfair advantage.
There is no guarantee that the lawsuit will force Amazon to modify the Buy Box. However, this comes as the company faces multiple accusations that it is abusing its dominant position to stifle third-party sellers. California recently sued Amazon for claiming it punishes sellers who offer cheaper prices elsewhereand the United States Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating Amazon for misuse of seller data to launch competing products.
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