Amazon Seller Sentenced to 18 Months for Price Fixing

Just saw this.
Interesting.

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Now if we could just get AMAZON to cut out the ‘Listings deactivated due to potential pricing error’ notifications that cause any pricing out of line with THEIR price fixing scheme – ’ Amazon’s Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy.’ – the world would be a slightly better place…

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How did they price fix? Isn’t Amazon more guilty of that?

The EU slapped them around several years ago for their (removed) policy of always having the low price from sellers on Amazon versus even their own sites.

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Many years ago, I used to sell as an individual seller, and I remember they did have that policy that we couldn’t have lower prices anywhere else.

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Ya know, I swore I posted this, but I read it and forgot to post. So good post!

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Amazon needs to be taken to task for price fixing. I receive emails every day from Amazon telling me my prices are not to their liking, and that they have taken down my offerings. Meanwhile, my books sell every day on other venues for prices Amazon has decided they do not like, and deprive Amazon buyers of my offerings, and Amazon of any profits they might have gleaned.

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Typical of them to go after stuff nobody gives a crap about. How many people still buy DVDs and blurays? And how many of those people actually care about price?

How about they look at all the crap Amazon does as a whole? Like the price emails being sent out mentioned above. Or giving brands more or less exclusive rights to certain ASINs (let’s be realistic here, the whole “must be authorized by the brand” trend does not benefit consumers, it just makes it that much easier for brands to enforce MAP). Amazon just did it with Coach, they’re basically kicking off all 3rd party sellers because they presumably made some kind of agreement to sell their products as 1P so they don’t want the competition. Vorys sends how many letters to sellers every day to demand they remove their listings because they’re “materially different”? Yes, they state in the letter the reason is to ensure quality controls blah blah (again, let’s be real here, FBA treats all sellers’ products equally as ■■■■■■, an authorized reseller’s products don’t get stored or handled any less negligently). But the real reason is they want to boot people from the listing so their brand’s authorized seller can have the buy box without needing to compete on price.

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(let’s be realistic here, the whole “must be authorized by the brand” trend does not benefit consumers, it just makes it that much easier for brands to enforce MAP).

FBA treats all sellers’ products equally as ■■■■■■, an authorized reseller’s products don’t get stored or handled any less negligently

That isn’t what they mean. Think of it like this - a brand owner wants to protect their brand, in the same way that a parent wants to protect their child.

They created it, they raised it and nurtured it, and absolutely have a say in the way their ‘offspring’ is handled, along with who gets that privilege.

Too many third-party sellers have no grasp of this idea, nor any respect for it if they do. They view someone else’s “child” as there for their own selfish benefit and think they have the right to do anything they want with, or to, it.

You wouldn’t view someone’s actual human child that way, but many sellers view the brand owner’s ‘children’ (products) that way - with total disregard and no respect for the brand owner’s “parental” rights.

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I understand exactly what it means, and a brand owner absolutely has the right to decide who they will and won’t sell their products to for distribution. But the bigger the brand, the more likely they are to have leaks in the supply chain, and those leaks are good for the consumer as they bring prices down. If a brand truly wanted to crack down on supply chain leaks the technology exists to do so. Put a serial # on each unit and it becomes pretty easy to track down where the leak is coming from. 3rd party market places shouldn’t be assisting them with price fixing, that’s the brand owner’s responsibility, not the marketplace’s. (Now, obviously if there’s things like the warranty doesn’t apply, that needs to be disclosed to the consumer, and if the consumer chooses to accept that risk for a lower price then options are a good thing)

And also, these aren’t people’s kids, these are products being made for the sole purpose of generating a profit. Kids exist to suck money out of your wallet, brands exist to line people’s pockets with money.

That said, I do think Amazon should implement another product condition. “New - Warranty may not apply” which would accurately describe products which are sold by say, a RA, and let that product condition compete for the New buy box if discounted, which would force the authorized sellers to compete on price. But that doesn’t seem to be the route they’re going. Now that Amazon has a huge market share they no longer need to be a low price leader and can gate brands and let the brand owners jack up prices (along with amazon’s cut).

Can’t wait until the next time we buy a new car that “may not” have tires.

“New - Warranty may not apply” … an item either has a warranty or it doesn’t. This statement is something someone would use who is trying to get around sourcing through proper channels. The consumers are the ones who pay for retailers who play in the grey areas of retail.

:arrow_up: :arrow_up: :arrow_up: :arrow_up: :arrow_up:

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I would buy grey market goods and have no problem with it if they were discounted and the fact that the manufacturer MIGHT not honor the warranty (hence MAY not apply) is properly disclosed for certain products (think about how many things you’ve bought in your life that you actually made a warranty claim on? I would easily take a 5-10% discount vs having a warranty). As a consumer I would like to have that option. And as a side benefit, the authorized retailers may offer the product cheaper to compete with the unauthorized sellers. Bad for brand owners, bad for the authorized channels, good for consumers. Especially when you can return the item within 30 days if there’s any issue with it.

Obviously there’s other issues that come into play that are bad for consumers, like counterfeits, misrepresented goods (not actually new, but someone selling refurbished, or used/damaged products as new). But a MAP violating reseller that’s selling genuine new products is good for consumers.

There needs to be some middle ground. If there was no protection of brands then nobody would bother creating a brand, but having marketplaces protect a brand’s MAP and profit margins is pretty damn close to price fixing if you ask me. If a brand can’t control their own distribution channels there’s no reason why a 3rd party should be protecting their profits at the expense of buyers.

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If every so called “Brand Owner” decided they would be the only authorized seller of their product on Amazon, there would be NO third party sellers. That would certainly eliminate loads of complications and sellers.

Not necessarily … there are some 3P sellers who have their own brands and are the only ones selling it.

And @SWIMLARRY … welcome to SAS …

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And those are brand owners.

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And the timing of a post from today is just about perfect. The lead line is a gem of cluelessness — " Hello, I wanted to talk to another seller about raising the price. I asked Amazon customer service before doing it as I don’t know if this is legal or not."

Title says it all " I just got a warning and suddenly My Shop Deactivated"

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/seller-forums/discussions/t/8f37135b-1b9d-49fa-b6bf-6870ca36e1d8?postId=9aae662d-76a6-4507-b912-d55b7cb2627a

Hello, I wanted to talk to another seller about raising the price. I asked Amazon customer service before doing it as I don’t know if this is legal or not

Amazon customer service (or seller support) does not offer legal advice.

:thinking:

I’m going to go ahead and assume this guy was dumb enough to have this “discussion” through buyer-seller messaging with his seller account. It’s unbelievable how stupid people can be sometimes.

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And of course the OTHER possibility is that Amazon missed it (which would be their ‘normal’ situation) and the OTHER seller saw a golden opportunity to do two things.

One – do the right thing and NOT entertain the idea because they don;t look good in orange.

Two – get rid of the competition.

Talk about killing two birds with one message to Amazon…

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I had a seller message me (and I’m assuming the other sellers on the ASIN as well) asking to price fix a long long time ago. I didn’t report them for it because of all the stories I heard about sellers who got suspended for filing complaints against other sellers. With Amazon it’s just not worth it to rock the boat.

Attempting to price fix as small time sellers on a marketplace doesn’t even make any sense. If you don’t have control over the product’s distribution, someone, anyone, can come and undercut the fixed pricing since that’s probably a nice fat profit margin, and then the race to the bottom will happen unless every single new person who tries to sell that product agrees to the fixing. If you do have some control over distribution, you can fix prices legally by imposing a MAP (or getting the manufacturer to do so if you’re well connected with them) and ceasing sales to anyone who doesn’t comply.