Bundeskartellamt investigates abuse of dominance by Amazon

Bundeskartellamt investigates abuse of dominance by Amazon

The Bundeskartellamt, whose task it is to protect competition in Germany, will examine how Amazon operates in Germany. The main concern is that Amazon is an online retailer itself, but it also has opened its German marketplace for external vendors. Is Amazon abusing its market position?

Amazon is, by far, the largest online store in Germany. It ranks first in the top 10 online stores in Germany, with an annual turnover of 8.8 billion euros. But it’s not only the largest online retailer, it also operates the largest online marketplace in Germany. And that’s something the Bundeskartellamt isn’t happy about. It wants to examine Amazon’s terms of business and practices towards sellers on Amazon.de

Double role could hinder sellers

“Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales. Amazon functions as a kind of ‘gatekeeper’ for customers. Its double role as the largest retailer and largest marketplace has the potential to hinder other sellers on its platform”, Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, comments.

Many complaints about Amazon

“Because of the many complaints we have received we will examine whether Amazon is abusing its market position to the detriment of sellers active on its marketplace. We will scrutinize its terms of business and practices towards sellers.”

The Bundeskartellamt will look at things like liability provisions that disadvantage sellers, rules on product reviews, the non-transparent blocking of sellers’ accounts and delaying or even withholding payment. “A criterion for the relevance of this conduct under competition law is that Amazon holds a dominant position and/or that the sellers are dependent on Amazon.”

European Commission also investigates Amazon in Germany

The German competition watchdog isn’t the only organization in Europe that’s investigating Amazon. The European Commission is doing the same, as it sent out extensive questionnaires to several hundred Germany retailers last summer. This investigation is primarily focused on Amazon’s use of data to the disadvantage of marketplace sellers.

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