This is worth watching. Those of us who follow these things know that Prime Shipping is used as a coercive tool to raise consumer prices — so free shipping actually costs us quite a bit. Via the New York Times:
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, joins the recent government antitrust cases against Google and Facebook. These lawsuits will take forever, and legal experts have said that the companies likely have the upper hand in court.
The D.C. attorney general, Karl Racine, however, is making a legal argument against Amazon that is both old-school and novel, and it might become a blueprint for crimping Big Tech power.
It’s a longstanding claim by some of the independent merchants who sell on Amazon’s digital mall that the company punishes them if they list their products for less on their own websites or other shopping sites like Walmart.com. Those sellers are effectively saying that Amazon dictates what happens on shopping sites all over the internet, and in doing so makes products more expensive for all of us.
Racine has made this claim a centerpiece of his lawsuit. Amazon has said before that merchants have absolute authority to set prices for the products they sell on its site, but that ignores that the company has subtle levers to make merchants’ products all but invisible to shoppers. If a merchant lists a product for less on another site, Amazon can respond by making it more cumbersome for a shopper to buy the item.
You can read even more about how this works here.