back to article Amazon India accused of copying merchant products and juicing search results to sell its own knockoffs

When asked in July, 2020, by US Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) whether Amazon ever mined data from its third-party vendors to launch competing products, founder and then CEO Jeff Bezos said he couldn't answer "yes" or "no," but insisted Amazon had rules disallowing the practice. "What I can tell you is we have a policy …

  1. Blackjack Silver badge

    So basically the same thing Amazon USA does?

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Weasel wording

    So interesting to see ALL the statements incredibly carefully worded not to say "we aren't doing it" but "we have a policy against that"

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      Re: Weasel wording

      Isn't that standard practice ?

      If a spokesperson says "X doesn't happen" then they can be proved wrong and accused of lying. If they say they "have a policy against X" then even if X is found to happen, then the statement isn't a lie.

      Also, by "having a policy" it's easy to deflect blame onto a small group of people "doing things against policy" - which again gets the company off the hook provided they've done a good enough job of making sure there's no proof to be found that senior manglement allowed it to carry on.

  3. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

    Why buy?

    Why would anyone buy from here?

    I buy here only as a last resort. Either when not available anywhere else or the price differential is way too much. Rarely does that happen.

    I go local shops -> town centre shops -> local sellers online -> then here

    I have not seen expenses go up significantly due to my policy. And local sellers online seem to give almost all that I cannot find in the shops.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Why buy?

      "Why buy?"

      Clearly there are hundreds of millions of people who have a satisfactory answer for that, and I suspect that the answer is a combination of laziness and convenience, together with short-termism. As a result of so many people doing that, many people now don't have teh option of local or eventown center shops because they've lost most of their custom to Amazon etc.

      but also, why sell?

      Again, short-term convenience - a seller doesn't need to set up their own website and theoretically has access to a billion customers. In practice those billion customers are shopping for a handful of items among millions, and will only see the half-dozen options that Amazon shows them. In the end Amazon can plagiarize and undercut the successful sellers.... and, more importantly, the seller has no relation with the customer. Amazon hoards and pools all the lovely, lovely customer data, so in the long term sellers are screwed.

      1. Cuddles

        Re: Why buy?

        "Clearly there are hundreds of millions of people who have a satisfactory answer for that, and I suspect that the answer is a combination of laziness and convenience, together with short-termism."

        I think the problem is actually that people aren't lazy enough. As the late Sir Pterry noted, merely not doing anything and taking what looks like the easiest option sounds lazy, but carrying around a lot of fat is actually more effort overall than staying reasonably fit. Similarly, people continue to use Amazon because they assume it's the cheap, convenient option, but never bother to actually check if it would be less effort to go somewhere else. In fact, most shops these days offer delivery just as quick, comparable or lower prices, and without the high risk of getting low quality and/or counterfeit goods which end up taking significantly more effort to send back.

        People don't use Amazon because they're lazy, but rather because they're not lazy enough to check if they're actually being as lazy as they could be.

      2. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man

        Re: Why buy?

        I suspect we live in different countries.

        I have quite a few local shops (5 minutes walk maximum, very convenient). Who do have a lot of customers.

  4. jmch Silver badge

    Policy schmolicy

    "Amazon has a policy forbids using merchant data for internal usage"

    So how many employees have ever been caught / disciplined / fired for violating the policy, Jeff? I would wager the latter numbers are 0 and 0. As for the 'caught' number, you can't catch what you aren't looking for.

    Onca again, the monopolist's answer is "Nothing to see here, all OK, you can trust us to correct our own homework, promise, guv!"

  5. Chris G

    When searching online for something, Amazon pops up usually in the top three, often it is the top three, then when opening one of their offers, I usually find a page with 'Out of stock, we don't know when or if this product will be back in stock'.

    Amazon pays to achieve high search ranking just to get you through the door

    I also find if a vendor had an eBay page as well, the same product will be significantly cheaper on eBay or the vendor's own website, so why would I use Amazon for anything unless it is the sole source of a thing I want?

    And don't get me started on their non-delivering delivery people.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    No mention of how Chancellor's father in law and his JV with Jeff Bezos got caught in this?

    Amazon to end JV with Narayana Murthy's Catamaran

  7. Just an old bloke

    Amazon UK do this

    My ex employer used to list certain products on Amazon, usually stuff that wasn't already listed. Sometimes they sold well, sometimes not so much. Those that sold well didn't sell well for too long as Amazon had picked up the product for themselves are were selling direct, cheaper of course.

    ASDA used to do this to small shops, back in the day we extended our services from business comms and networks in to PC's and servers, opening a retail shop for the locals. A few weeks after opening, ASDA started selling low end Compaq´s for silly money, no support etc, etc... so our little shop, selling decent hardware with support lost most of its home business. After trying for a few months, abandoned Home stuff and concentrated on business sales. A few months after that, ASDA stopped selling PC´s there.

    We were not the only retailer they tried to knock off, they did the same to a key cutter, a bike shop, a toy shop, pet sales, greetings card sales and a few others - as soon as they opened, ASDA went after their business and often the businesses closed. Not sure of the logic to this business model, perhaps it a "Oh, that looks like a good idea, lets sell that ..." rather than a dog-in-the-manger mindset. These small shops drew people to the town. Needless to say ASDA now reigns supreme over a town centre with boarded up premises, charity shops and estate agents.

    1. Nunyabiznes

      Re: Amazon UK do this

      So your ASDA = Walmart here.

      1. JDPower666

        Re: Amazon UK do this

        It was actually owned by Walmart for the last 20 years (they sold it earlier this year)

  8. Nunyabiznes

    Color me surprised.

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