retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Two new class action lawsuits have been filed against Amazon, charging that the online retailer's Marketplace platform "harms competition by penalizing merchants who sell products on other platforms for lower prices than they offer on Amazon," the Seattle Times reports.

The suits were filed last week "on behalf of proposed classes of tens of millions of consumers who have bought merchandise on Amazon" and "describe Marketplace as a pay-to-play scheme in which Amazon is the only winner … Plaintiffs in the two new suits are represented by Hagens Berman, the Seattle firm that previously filed class-action antitrust cases against Amazon’s bookselling division, and attorneys in the Seattle office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan."

The story notes that "Amazon did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuits," though "it has previously rebutted claims that its Marketplace policies raise prices."

The two new suits follow a similar one filed last week against Amazon by the Washington, DC, attorney general;  the Times points out that "attorneys general from five states — including Washington — and the Federal Trade Commission are exploring antitrust cases against the retail behemoth."

KC's View:

Just the beginning of the lawsuit barrage that is going to hit Amazon in the coming months.  There is a sense, I think, that the company may have reached the tipping point when it comes to the broad acceptability - at least, as perceived by the regulatory class - of its actions, strategies and tactics.

The thing is, I'm not sure that actual shoppers feel the same way.  Which means that antitrust definitions have to be reframed if Amazon is going to be reined in at all.