“Lawmakers Give Amazon ‘Final Chance’ to Clear Up Testimony”, from the AP:
The letter says the antitrust subcommittee is considering
referring the case to the Justice Department for criminal
investigation. It accuses the world’s biggest online retailer of
at least misleading Congress and possibly outright lying.
It cites recent media reports detailing Amazon’s alleged practice
of undercutting the businesses that sell on its platform by making
“knock-offs,” or very similar products, and boosting their
presence on the site.
The reports directly contradict the sworn testimony of Amazon
executives and other statements to Congress, the letter says. It
was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.,
and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the antitrust panel.
One report that prompted this is this one last week from Reuters reporters Aditya Kalra and Steve Stecklow, regarding Amazon’s knock-off product strategy in India:
But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by
Reuters — including emails, strategy papers and business plans — show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs
and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in
India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.
The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India
secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products
sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform.
The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products
by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products
would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in
the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were
shopping on Amazon.in.
There’s a good argument for Amazon on this front that store brands are as old as retail. That Sears did the same thing a century ago, and that Walmart does it now. And that of course retailers with house brands — including Amazon — look at sales data to choose what to make. But that’s not what Amazon — and Jeff Bezos in particular — have said under oath. Bezos left Jassy with a serious mess to clean up here.
★ Tuesday, 19 October 2021