Moss and Kades Weigh in on Amazon Pricing Policies

Bloomberg’s August 5, 2019 article “Amazon Is Squeezing Sellers That Offer Better Prices on Walmart” features AAI President Diana Moss and AAI Advisory Board member Michael Kades. From the article:

Amazon used to require that merchants offer their best prices on Amazon as terms for selling on the site, but the agreement attracted the attention of regulators bent on ensuring competition. Amazon removed the requirement for sellers in Europe in 2013 following investigations and quietly removed the requirement without explanation for U.S. sellers in March shortly after Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren announced a goal of breaking up Amazon and other big tech companies.

The price alerts help Amazon get around regulators’ complaints, according to Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for aggressive antitrust enforcement. “They’ve taken this policy that was overtly concerning to antitrust regulators and turned it into something that’s a little bit harder to get at,” she said.

Even so, Michael Kades, a former FTC attorney who now researches antitrust issues at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, says the price alerts will almost certainly draw the government’s attention. “If regulators can prove that this conduct is causing merchants to raise prices on other platforms,” he said, “Amazon loses the argument that their policies are all about giving everyone lower prices.”