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Amazon Updates Seller Agreement after Scrutiny from Germany

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Amazon Updates Seller Agreement after Scrutiny from Germany

Amazon informed sellers on Wednesday it is making changes to the Business Solutions Agreement. A summary of the changes is available for sellers to review here, and Amazon made available a “redlined” version of the agreement so sellers could read what language it is adding and what it is deleting.

Amazon said the changes were based on feedback from its sellers, but they come after it reached a deal with Germany’s anti-trust authority, the Bundeskartellamt, to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants. (Also this week, EU’s European Commission opened an antitrust investigation into whether Amazon uses third-party merchant data in breach of EU rules.)

The Bundeskartellamt published a summary of the changes that appear to be positive for merchants. The agency said the changes address the numerous complaints about Amazon that it received from sellers. “They concern the unilateral exclusion of liability to Amazon’s benefit, the termination and blocking of sellers’ accounts, the court of jurisdiction in case of a dispute, the handling of product information and many other issues.”

However, Amazon also created a long list of separate Program Policies “in order to clarify seller contractual obligations.” There is no guide to what changes Amazon may have made to Program Policies, if any, as part of Wednesday’s announced changes.

Here are the changes Amazon called out in its announcement:

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Changes to the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement
We are making several changes to the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement. These changes will enter into effect in 30 days, i.e., August 16. The changes are based on feedback from our sellers, and the key changes are summarized below:

General Terms “Introduction”: we are clarifying seller contractual obligations by defining a discrete set of Program Policies.
Section 3 “Term and Termination”: we are adding more specific information about account suspension and termination and we are providing for a right to appeal such actions in certain circumstances.
Section 4 “License”: we are narrowing the scope of the limited license sellers give us to their intellectual property.
Section 6 “Indemnification”: the obligation to indemnify will apply mutually to both parties.
Section 15 “Modification”: we will provide advance notice when we modify the BSA, except where needed to protect customers.
Section S-3.2 “A-to-z Guarantee”: we will provide an express right to appeal our A-to-z determinations.
Section F-7 “Returns to You and Disposal”: we have revised the procedure for refusing, removing, or disposing of FBA inventory.
”Selling Partner API Terms”: we have streamlined the terms for our selling partner APIs, including Marketplace Web Services (MWS), distinguished the different terms that apply to sellers and developers, and clarified permissible uses of those APIs.
This list doesn’t include all of the changes, so please review the updated agreement carefully; a redlined version is available here in English, Spanish, and Chinese. And if you have questions, please reach out to Selling Partner Support. Your continued use of selling services after August 16 constitutes your acceptance of the updated agreement.

As always, our goal is to help you and all our selling partners continue to succeed with Amazon and grow your businesses around the world. Thank you for being an Amazon Selling Partner.

Among the changes of special note: the Bundeskartellamt said Amazon has had an unlimited right to immediately terminate and block sellers’ accounts without justification. “In the future an ordinary termination of an account will require a 30 days’ notice. In the case of an extraordinary termination (based on the alleged legal infringements by a seller) and the blocking of a seller’s account, Amazon is now obliged to inform the seller and provide reasons for such measures.”

And the agency said many sellers complained about Amazon’s practice with regard to product reviews. However, “Amazon argued that there is a considerable risk of fake and manipulative reviews and stated that it is willing to address the fundamentals of the problem.”

Amazon will expand its internal Vine rating program, gradually making it available to marketplace sellers that own a brand name registered with Amazon, but the Bundeskartellamt has refrained from making further requirements regarding the rules for product reviews “in view of its current sector inquiry into “online user reviews” (see Bundeskartellamt press release of 23 May 2019) and the EU Commissions’s current inquiry against Amazon.”

The changes take effect on August 16, 2019.

Amazon Germany Bundeskartellamt infographic

The above infographic was published by the Bundeskartellamt in its announcement.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

One thought on “Amazon Updates Seller Agreement after Scrutiny from Germany”

  1. So Amazon is doing this due to complaints, etc. from a German regulation body and Amazon is making available a Redlined version for the revisions in English, Spanish and Chinese. What about one in German or are all Germans now fluent in English?

    I do approve of some of those changes but will need to read them closer.

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