Category Archives: amazon

California Attorney General Sues Amazon For Blocking Price Competition



California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the company stifled competition and caused increased prices across California through anticompetitive contracting practices in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Cartwright Act.

Further information includes:

In order to avoid competing on prices with other online e-commerce sites, Amazon requires merchants to enter into agreements that severely penalize them if their products are offered for a lower price off-Amazon. In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta alleges that these agreements thwart the ability of other online retailers to compete, contributing to Amazon’s dominance in the online retail marketplace and harming merchants and consumers through inflated fees and higher prices.

“For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Amazon coerces merchants into agreement that keep prices artificially high, knowing full well they can’t afford to say no. With other e-commerce platforms unable to compete on price, consumers turn to Amazon as a one-stop shop for all their purchases. This perpetuates Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants and costing consumers more at checkout across California…”

The Attorney General provided information about the lawsuit against Amazon and requested relief:

The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks an order from the San Francisco Superior Court that stops Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior and recovers the damages to California consumers and the California economy. Specifically, the lawsuit asks the Court to:

  • Prohibit Amazon from entering into and enforcing its anticompetitive contracts that harm price competition;
  • Require Amazon to affirmatively notify vendors that it does not require sellers to offer prices on par with off-Amazon prices;
  • Appoint a Court-approved monitor, to ensure Amazon’s compliance with the Court’s order;
  • Order damages to compensate for the harms to consumers through increased prices; and
  • Order Amazon to return its ill-gotten gains and pay penalties to serve as a deterrent to other companies contemplating similar actions.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the suit is the result of an investigation the began in early 2020. It seeks unspecified damages for harm to the state economy and $2,500 for each violation of the state’s civil and professional code proved at trial.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit represents the biggest legal challenge to date in the U.S. for Amazon, which was previously sued by the District of Columbia and is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, the European Union, and a congressional committee. Because California is the nation’s most populous state and biggest economy, its business regulations have long swayed how companies operate across the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

If things work out the way Attorney General Bonta wants them to, I think it will could cause other states to create similar lawsuits against Amazon. The result could potentially make it less expensive for people to buy products from Amazon.


Amazon Provided Ring Doorbell Footage To Police



Amazon handed Ring video doorbell footage to police without owners’ permission at least 11 times so far this year – a figure that highlights the unfettered access the company is giving police to doorsteps across the country, Politico reported.

On July 13, 2022, U.S. Senator Markey posted on his website “Senator Markey’s Probe Into Amazon Ring Reveals New Privacy Problems”.

Here are some key findings:

…The findings highlight the close relationship between Ring and law enforcement, including the proliferation of policing agencies on the Ring platform. In response to Senator Markey’s June letter, Ring reported a more than five-fold increase in law enforcement partnerships on its platform since November 2019. Ring further revealed that Ring has provided law enforcement with user footage through a process that does not require the user’s consent – under a so-called “emergency circumstance exception” – 11 times so far this year…

In response to questions raised in Senator Markey’s June Letter, Ring:

Refused to commit to not incorporating voice recognition technology in its products. In a previous letter to Senator Markey, Ring refused to commit to not incorporating facial recognition technology in its products

Reported 2,161 law enforcement agencies on its Neighbors Public Safety Service (NPSS), a platform on which participating agencies can request footage from Ring users. This represents a more than five-fold increase in law enforcement partnerships with Ring since November 2019.

Disclosed it has provided videos to law enforcement in response to an emergency request, through a process that does not require the consent of the device owner, 11 times this year.

Stated that only police and fire departments are currently on NPSS, despite their commitment to actively recruit public health departments, animal services, and agencies that primarily address homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health onto Ring’s platform.

Failed to clarify the distance from which Ring products can capture audio recordings.

Refused to eliminate Ring doobells’ default setting of automatically recording audio.

Refused to commit to make end-to-end encryption the default storage option for consumers.

A copy the full response from Ring can be found HERE for those who want to read it.

The Guardian reported that Ring has said before that it will not share customer information with police without consent, a warrant, or due to “an exigent or emergency” circumstance. The 11 videos shared this year fell under the emergency provision, Amazon’s letter said, the first time the company publicly shared such information. The letter, dated July 1, did not say which videos were shared with the police.

Personally, I think Ring cameras are invasive. I don’t understand why Ring feels the need to grab video and send it to the police. There must be changes made that prevent anyone – other than the owner of the camera – from seeing the videos their Ring recorded.


Amazon Prime Air Prepares For Drone Deliveries



Amazon announced that Amazon customers in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to receive Prime Air drone deliveries in the U.S. Amazon wrote: The promise of drone delivery has often felt like science fiction. We’ve been working for almost a decade to make it a reality.

According to Amazon, Lockeford has historic links to the aviation industry. The community boasts one of the early pioneers of aviation – Weldon B. Cooke, who built and flew early planes in the early 1900’s – as a former resident. Now, over a century later, residents will get the opportunity to sign up for free drone delivery on thousands of everyday items,

Lockeford residents will play an important role in defining the future. Their feedback about Prime Air, with drones delivering packages in their backyards, will help us create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere – while adding another innovation to the town’s aviation history.

Amazon says it is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local officials in Lockeford to obtain permission to conduct these deliveries and will continue with that collaboration into the future.

CNET reported that Amazon has been developing drones for years. It gained FAA approval for the drones in 2020, before scaling back the project the following year.

According to CNET, the drones use sense-and-avoid systems to operate safely. The drones can reliably avoid obstacles including other aircraft, people, and pets, Amazon said.

Once the system launches, customers in Lockeford will be able to order products through Amazon Prime Air and wait for the drone to arrive. It will fly to its destination, descend to the customers’ backyard, and drop the package from a safe height, before zooming away.

The Hill reported that Amazon’s Prime Air is one of three drone delivery service companies that has earned an FAA air carrier certificate, according to the company. The Hill also reported that Amazon says its drones can carry up to five pounds.

I can understand why Amazon wants to use drones to send things to customers who pay for Amazon Prime. It would not only give Amazon a reason to use its drones to deliver packages, but also could encourage customers to keep their Amazon Prime subscription going.

What I don’t like about Amazon’s Prime Air drone deliveries is that it appears to limit who can make use of it. A person could have an Amazon Prime subscription – but not have a backyard for the drone to drop the package in.


Amazon to Pay Customers Injured by Dangerous Products



Amazon announced that they are extending their A-to-z Guarantee to protect customers in the unlikely event a defective product sold through Amazon causes property damage or personal injury – regardless of who sells it.

Amazon stated in a post on their website that the company will directly pay customers for claims under $1,000 – which Amazon says account for more than 80% of cases – at no cost to sellers. Amazon also says it may step in to pay claims in higher accounts if the seller is unresponsive or rejects a claim that Amazon believe’s to be valid.

Another interesting thing from Amazon’s post is mention of the Amazon Insurance Accelerator. According to Amazon, “sellers have long been required to obtain product liability insurance.” Amazon reported that it worked with an insurance broker to create Amazon Insurance Accelerator, and that sellers only pay for the cost of the insurance itself.

CNBC reported that Amazon’s third-party marketplace, “where counterfeits, unsafe products, and even expired goods have become a notorious problem” have attracted scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Amazon to force it to recall dozens of defective products sold by merchants on its marketplace. Perhaps Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee is a means by which to appease the Commission.

Financial Times reported that Amazon told the Texas Supreme Court that it was merely the middleman in a transaction where someone was injured by a product they purchased through Amazon. The Texas Supreme Court agreed with Amazon’s position. A California court said Amazon could be held potentially liable for third-party sales, in the same way a bricks-and- mortar retailer might be.

Overall, I think the result is that Amazon will take more effort to remove dangerous products from its platform. That’s good for everyone who makes a purchase on Amazon.


Been wanting Echo Auto? It now brings Alexa to your car cheap today only



Amazon Echo caught on in the market right away, perhaps first as a novelty, but it quicky became useful. It does more than just play music and give sometimes funny answers. The news, the weather, directions…when in doubt ask Alexa, it very well may know. 

Amazon is well aware that the Echo becomes inaccessible to people when they leave their home and the company was anxious to solve this problem, it brings Alexa right into your vehicle. 

Android Auto is a tiny 

 device, about smart phone size and can clip to an air vent in your vehicle. 

It’s strange how when we didn’t have Alexa we didn’t notice, but now we find ourselves not being able to live without it. We speak to it even out of range. 

As you may know, this is Prime week. It lasts two days and Amazon has non-stop sales on all sorts of items from electronics to clothes to toys. Today only the retailer is selling the device for $14.99, down significantly from its regular $49.99. Happy shopping. 


Amazon Prime Day approaches, warm up your wallet



Very few people don’t shop at Amazon at least occasionally. Some perhaps more than they should – or more than the significant other wishes. 

Good news, Amazon Pime Day is coming. You have a little time to make up your mind, the announcement just came out but the big moment takes place over two days – June 21-22. 

Amazon promises “will deliver Prime members over 2 million deals across every category, including fashion, home, beauty, electronics, and more, along with the best in entertainment benefits and never-before-seen exclusives across Prime Video, Amazon Music, Prime Gaming, and more. Prime Day kicks off on June 21 at midnight PDT (3 a.m. EDT) and runs through June 22 for Prime members in the U.S., the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Spain, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Brazil, Belgium, Austria, and Australia. Not a Prime member yet? Anyone can join Prime or start a 30-day free trial at amazon.com/primeday to participate in Prime Day.” 

It’s a good thing you have a couple of weeks to browse because there’s a lot to look at and don’t forget to keep an eye out for current deals since some are already out there. 


D.C. Attorney General Sues Amazon on Antitrust Grounds



Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl A. Racine, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com seeking to end its anticompetitive practices that have raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice across the entire online retail market.

Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs. It maximizes profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation, and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor,” said AG Racine. “We filed this antitrust lawsuit to put an end to Amazon’s illegal control of prices in the retail marketplace that expands options available to District residents and promotes competition, innovation, and choice.

CNBC reported that that Attorney General Racine is seeking to end Amazon’s illegal use of price agreements to avoid competition. The lawsuit also asks for damages and penalties to deter similar conduct. The lawsuit asks the court to stop what it calls Amazon’s ability to harm competition through a variety of remedies as needed, which could include structural relief, often referred to as a form of breakup.

According to CNBC, shares of Amazon barely moved on the announcement, down 1% as of Tuesday afternoon.

In my opinion, Attorney General Racine is doing the right thing by filing this kind of lawsuit against Amazon. Unfortunately, given how much money Amazon has, it seems likely that it has much more financial resources than an Attorney General’s office would have. I suspect that Amazon will win the case because it can spend more on attorneys and will not be harmed by dragging out the lawsuit for as long as possible.