Updated February 9th, 2024 at 21:01 IST
Amazon directs consumers to higher-priced items: Lawsuit
The US lawsuit claims Amazon's algorithm hides lower-priced options and shows faster delivery times.
Amazon.com has been sued in a US class action over allegations of violating consumer protection by steering shoppers to higher-priced items for more fees.
The lawsuit proposes action on allegations of the e-commerce platform violating consumer protection, according to the complaint in Seattle’s federal court.
Amazon's algorithm has been accused of not showing lower-priced options when customers search for products in its "Buy Box".
When shoppers look for low-cost options, the results are hidden with faster delivery times.
The lawsuit also invoked the recent antitrust case against Amazon by the US Federal Trade Commission and 17 states.
As per the complaint, shoppers go with Amazon's choices nearly 98 per cent of the time by clicking its "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" buttons, but they are wrongly convinced of Amazon having found the best prices.
The lawsuit accuses Amazon of having created the algorithm to benefit third-party sellers which take part in its Fulfillment By Amazon program, paying "hefty fees" for inventory storage, packing and shipping, returns apart from other services.
"While ostensibly identifying the selection that consumers would make if they considered all the available offers, Amazon's Buy Box algorithm deceptively favours Amazon's own profits over consumer well-being," the complaint said.
Amazon did not issue a statement or respond to media immediately. California residents Jeffrey Taylor and Robert Selway were the complainants.
The lawsuit seeks damages for Amazon's alleged violations since 2016, as per a Washington state law against deceptive trade practices.
This has resulted in a "great burden placed upon its customers," the plaintiffs' lawyer Steve Berman said.
The case differs from other private litigation over the "Buy Box" by focusing on harm to consumers from deceptive practices, instead of antitrust violations or harm to sellers that do not join Amazon's fulfillment program.
(With Reuters inputs)
Published February 9th, 2024 at 20:58 IST