The contract terms mean that the platform fees Amazon demands of its sellers — which are passed on to Amazon shoppers — must also be baked into the prices that shoppers see on sites such as Walmart’s, Racine told reporters on a conference call. In some cases, Racine said, Amazon sellers are charged fees amounting to 40% of the total product price on Amazon.
“These restrictions allow Amazon to build and maintain monopoly power in violation of District law,” Racine said.
According to the complaint, that language allows Amazon to “penalize a seller for selling products on non-Amazon online retail sales platforms for a better price or on better terms.”
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said Racine “has it exactly backwards.”
“Sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” the statement said. “Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively.”
Amazon said Racine’s proposed remedy would “force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers.”
The District’s suit alleges that Amazon has violated DC’s antitrust law. It does not contain any allegations that Amazon violated federal antitrust law, and Racine’s office is not currently working with other federal or state officials on this suit.
Still, he told CNN Business that could change.
“It’s not unusual after a suit for other attorneys general to express an interest in the lawsuit and join or file their own,” Racine said.