The class action alleges that Amazon manipulates its own algorithms to suppress competitors’ products.
Amazon is facing a $1 billion class action lawsuit in the United Kingdom, with attorneys claiming that the e-commerce company misused its own algorithm to suppress competition.
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit is led by the law firm Hausfeld & Co. LLP.
In a press release, the firm said that any United Kingdom resident who has made an Amazon purchase during or after October 2016 could be eligible to make a claim.
The Associated Press notes that the lawsuit focuses primarily on Amazon.com’s “Buy Box” feature, which highlights certain products and has the potential to boost sales. The so-called “Buy Box” displays a single product from a single seller, even if other merchants offer the same item at similar prices.
Hausfeld & Co. claims that many consumers erroneously assume that the “Buy Box” offers the best deals.
However, attorneys contend that Amazon uses a “secretive” algorithm that features its own products, or products sold by merchants that use its fulfillment and delivery services.
“Millions of consumers have paid too much and been denied choice. This action seeks fair redress for them,” said Hausfeld attorney and partner Lesley Hannah. “Amazon takes advantage of consumers’ well-known tendency to focus on prominently-placed and eye-catching displays, such as the Buy Box.”
“Amazon doesn’t present consumers with a fair range of choices – on the contrary, the design of the Buy Box makes it difficult for consumers to locate and purchase better or cheaper options,” Hannah said. “Amazon should not be allowed to take advantage of its customers in this anticompetitive way.”
Now, the class claims that Amazon breached antitrust law by abusing its prominent position to suppress competition.
“Other sellers, who do not pay for Amazon’s fulfilment services, are nearly always excluded from the Buy Box, stifling their ability to offer consumers a better deal, and leaving consumers out of pocket,” Hausfeld & Co. attorneys said in a press release.
However, an Amazon spokesperson said that the claim is “without merit and we’re confident that will become clear through the legal process.”
“Amazon has always focused on supporting the 85,000 businesses that sell their products on our UK store, and more than half of all physical product sales on our UK store are from independent selling partners,” the Amazon spokesperson said. “We always work to feature offers that provide customers with low prices and fast delivery.”
The Associated Press notes that Amazon is facing several, similar complaints in different countries and in different markets. Recently, Italian regulatory authorities fined the company an estimated $1.4 billion over related antitrust complaints.