Amazon Under Fire in Europe as Germany Adds Antitrust Probe

Amazon Under Fire in Europe as Germany Adds Antitrust Probe

Foto: Fotolia

Amazon’s double role as Germany’s largest retailer and biggest online host for smaller stores is the target of an antitrust probe into the terms the company sets for other sellers, according to Bloomberg.

The investigation into Amazon’s biggest market outside the U.S. adds to European Union scrutiny of whether the company gathers information on rival sellers’ successes to help launch its own products. German Federal Cartel Office said they’d received "numerous" complaints from sellers.

"Amazon functions as a kind of gatekeeper for customers," said Andreas Mundt, the head of the authority, the Bundeskartellamt, in an emailed press release. "Its double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform." Amazon "will cooperate with the Bundeskartellamt and continue working hard to support small and medium-sized businesses and help them grow," the company said in an emailed statement.

Mundt will be looking at terms of business and related practices that breach antitrust rules. That includes liability provisions that could disadvantage sellers, contract clauses that restrict where sellers can take lawsuits against Amazon, rules on product reviews and the "non-transparent" process of blocking and closing sellers accounts. The probe will also look at withholding or delaying payment and clauses that assign rights to use information a seller must provide on the products it offers and the terms of business for delivery.

The German authority must prove that Amazon holds a “dominant position” or that the sellers are dependent on the company. "There are indications of both," it said in its press release, adding that it saw "a possible market for marketplace services for online sales to consumers." If regulators prove their case, they would be putting online platforms in the firing line for how they treat users, moving away from an older way of looking at buyers or sellers.

More from category

Huawei CFO Gains Bail in Canada as U.S. Seeks Extradition

Huawei CFO Gains Bail in Canada as U.S. Seeks Extradition

12 Dec 2018 comment

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was granted bail by a Canadian court, according to Bloomberg.

O2's All-Day Outage Caused Havoc in Ways Many Didn't Expect

O2's All-Day Outage Caused Havoc in Ways Many Didn't Expect

11 Dec 2018 comment

When the U.K.’s second-biggest cell-phone network went down Thursday, it struck transit riders, workers in the gig economy, small businesses and the self-employed, according to Bloomberg.

Tomašković leaves HT on 1 april 2019, Konstantinos Nempis appointed as his successor

Tomašković leaves HT on 1 april 2019, Konstantinos Nempis appointed as his successor

11 Dec 2018 comment

At today's session of the Supervisory Board of Hrvatski Telekom, Davor Tomašković submitted his resignation and announced that as of 1 April 2019 he shall be leaving the position of the President of the Management Board of the company to continue his career outside of the Deutsche Telekom group. The Supervisory Board has appointed Konstantinos Nempis to his position, who will assume the duties of President of the Management Board as of 1 April 2019.