The Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Amazon misleads customers about its pricing discounts, according to a source close to the probe. Chris Dignam reports.
The Federal Trade Commission looking into e-commerce giant Amazon over allegations that it misleads customers about its discounted prices. That's according to a source close to the investigation, who says the probe is part of the FTC's antitrust review of Amazon's deal to buy Whole Foods for more than 13 and half billion dollars. The complaint brought by Consumer Watchdog looked at products on Amazon's website in June and found that some of them had reference prices - or list prices - that were higher than Amazon had sold the same product at in the previous three months. Consumer Watchdog argues that those reference prices make Amazon's prices seem like a bargain, and asked the FTC to stop Amazon from buying Whole Foods while the deceptive discounting is occurring. Amazon saying in a statement that Consumer Watchdog's study was "deeply flawed." Adding: "The conclusions the Consumer Watchdog group reached are flat out wrong." The review of Amazon's discount pricing could be fodder for critics of the deal to buy Whole Foods, which they say could give Amazon an unfair advantage. The FTC declined to comment on the complaint, and it's not known if the agency will open a formal probe into the allegations. Amazon settled similar allegations with Canada's Competition Bureau in January. It paid a fine of just over three quarters of a million dollars as part of the settlement.