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Amazon’s Attempt to Rally Sellers on Antitrust Bill Falls Flat

Amazon Attempts to Rally Sellers on Antitrust Bill

Amazon urged sellers today to contact their Senators over legislation it claimed would hurt sellers’ ability to sell on its marketplace, but many sellers weren’t buying it.

Amazon referred sellers to a blog post written yesterday by its Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman, who mentioned several bills, including one introduced by Senator Klobuchar (The American Innovation and Choice Online Act).

“Sen. Klobuchar’s vaguely worded bill would mandate that Amazon allow other logistics providers to fulfill Prime orders,” Huseman asserted in a post on Wednesday.

In today’s announcement to sellers, Amazon Vice President of Worldwide Selling Partner Services Dharmesh M. Mehta said the bill would harm sellers’ businesses, American consumers, and Amazon.

“I encourage you to read the blog post in its entirety to fully understand our position and why Amazon opposes this legislation,” Mehta said. “Together, small businesses and Amazon have created one of the greatest partnership stories in the history of retail, and we want to be able to continue this amazing partnership for many years to come.”

Amazon’s Huseman had said Senator Klobuchar’s bill (and a similar bill in the House sponsored by Representative David Cicilline) “targets just a handful of American companies—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—which have very different business models.”

“In reality, Amazon’s Consumer business (which this proposed legislation is largely aimed at) has much more in common with thousands of other retailers, like Walmart, Target, and Costco, all of which would be mysteriously excluded from the bill’s proposed regulations,” Huseman wrote.

The reaction to today’s announcement may come as a surprise to Amazon. A few sellers said they opposed the bill, but numerous others said they supported it.

“Yes, I’m going to oppose that Amazon will be prohibited from undercutting, manipulating the buybox, and instituting restrictions on certain listings that unfairly bar me from selling an item. Yup, writing to my Senator right now,” wrote a user going by the name Snappahead, presumably with sarcasm.

“Oh no, you mean the senate is going to break up the Amazon monopoly? And I’m going to be able to sell on my own website again? Like back in the days before Amazon ate the online world? How horrible,” wrote acm.

But another seller, WBBaby, said they believed trying to regulate Amazon as an outside party “risks curtailing the benefits without making it meaningfully better for consumers” due to the intricacies of the platform.

Many of those who left comments expressed resentment over how Amazon treats them.

One seller going by the handle happyfamilyclothing expressed cynicism, writing:

“When a person or business issues a vaguely threatening one-sided statement, i.e., do this or else you will be put out of business… you have to stop and ask, what is the ACTUAL issue? What’s best for Amazon is not necessarily best for 3P sellers (who also sell on other marketplaces, retail, wholesale, etc.). I would have appreciated more clarity and at least the courtesy to explain the ACTUAL bill.”

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

2 thoughts on “Amazon’s Attempt to Rally Sellers on Antitrust Bill Falls Flat”

  1. All sellers with a brain should write their senator to support this bill.

  2. Mehta said. “Together, small businesses and Amazon have created one of the greatest partnership stories in the history of retail, and we want to be able to continue this amazing partnership for many years to come.”

    This is incorrect. Amazon and its third-party sellers do not have a partnership according to their own policy. Wrong and false statement.

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