German anti-trust authorities scrutinize Amazon | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 20.02.2013
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German anti-trust authorities scrutinize Amazon

US online retailer Amazon has come under fire from German anti-trust authorities. They're looking into whether the firm has been distorting competition by limiting third-party retailers' price policies in online stores.

Germany's Federal Cartel Office announced on Wednesday it was looking into whether online retailer Amazon had been hampering free competition among various online market platforms.

The Bonn-based anti-trust authority said there were signs the US company was unfairly using its Amazon Marketplace dominance by forbidding third-party retailers to sell their products cheaper online than on its own Internet platform.

The office spoke of a price parity clause imposed by Amazon to prevent traders from making less expensive offers on rival platforms such as EBay or in the retailers' own online shops, if they were already marketing the same products in Amazon Marketplace.

Consumers in focus

The Federal Cartel Office said it was now interviewing some 2,400 retailers to find out just how much pressure had been exerted on them by Amazon not to sell their products cheaper elsewhere.

The anti-trust authority added that such business practices would put consumers at a grave disadvantage as fair price competition was not ensured.

The probe into Amazon Marketplace follows on the back of allegations that a security firm working for the US company in Germany had neo-Nazi leanings and had intimidated foreign temp workers in Amazon logistics centers.

hg/kms (Reuters, AFP)