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Amazon lifts restriction on sellers criticized as anti-competitive: report

Key Points
  • Amazon.com has decided to stop telling third-party sellers on its platform that they cannot offer lower prices on competing websites, a source said on Monday.
  • The decision comes in the wake of a letter from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., arguing that the practice would "stifle market competition and artificially inflate prices."
Employees work at the Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, October 24, 2018. 
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters

]Amazon.com has decided to stop telling third-party sellers on its platform that they cannot offer lower prices on competing websites, a source said on Monday.

The source gave no details on the decision.

The decision comes in the wake of a letter from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), arguing that the practice would "stifle market competition and artificially inflate prices." The Dec. 19 letter was sent to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons and Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.

Blumenthal said Amazon had enforced its policy in the past by threatening to remove merchants who violated the contract clause. He argued the policy raised antitrust concerns and should be investigated by U.S. regulators.

Germany's antitrust authority launched an investigation into whether Amazon is exploiting its market dominance in its relations with third-party retailers in November.

Germany is Amazon's second-biggest market.

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Key Points
  • "I am as engaged and focused on Amazon as ever," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said during last week's internal all-hands meeting after an employee asked if any change is expected.
  • It was Bezos’ first public comment to employees addressing concerns about his work at Amazon as he’s dealing with a series of issues — both personally and professionally — that could potentially distract him from running one of the largest companies in the world.
  • Some corporate governance experts say Amazon's board should be taking a closer look at the situation as the issues surrounding Bezos could grow into a company risk factor.