back to article Amazon fined €1.13bn by Italy's antitrust authorities for abusing its power

Amazon was slapped with a whopping €1.13bn (£963.7m or $1.3bn) fine by Italy’s antitrust regulator on Thursday for “abusing its dominant position” and handicapping sellers that aren’t using its logistics service. The ecommerce giant offers to pack, ship, and deliver goods sold by third-party vendors under its Fulfillment by …

  1. jmch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good to see

    Good to see that monopolistic business practices start getting more attention. It might be in some cases 'too little too late', as the damage to many retailers is already done many years ago, but you have to start somewhere, and fines in the billions are at least noticeable and will get some attention.

    Now, to dedicate more and more resources and power for regulators, as the entities they regulate become ever more massive. And give the appeal courts the right to increase fines for frivolous appeals

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Amazon!

    As they say in the classics; “suffer in ya jocks”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey Amazon!

      But the fine is just pathetic. It should have been $1.3T. That would have made those in charge of the Bezos Tat Emporium sit up and take note.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Hey Amazon!

        Numbers are hard?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    seems a long and complicated dtory that could have been explained easier for those that dont know the ins and outs of the behind the svcenes architecure of the amazon enterprise.

    I knew there were third party sellers

    I knew the third party sellers used the warehouse and delivery system - i thought that was the point.

    I didnt know there were third party sellers that didnt use the ware house - and these sellers are being treated less well than the ones that use warehouse?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "these sellers are being treated less well than the ones that use warehouse?"

      Exaclty. Third party seller can sell on Amazon but then deliver using other logistics services. The problem is exactly that those sellers then are treated as "second-class" ones without access to selling features that could increase sales.

      Classic case of a "monopolist" that uses one of its business to boost another of its.

    2. Kristian Walsh

      Amazon claims to be a neutral sales platform to third-party sellers. Originally, if you wanted to sell there, they’d list you, process the payment, take a cut of your sale price, raise the orders to you and then you would handle order fulfilment yourself.

      Then Amazon started to offer its own fulfilment as an option to business. That meant that you sent your stock to an Amazon warehouse, and they did the shipment (and took another cut of the selling price for the privilege).

      That’s perfectly legitimate: a business can choose to have Amazon as their fulfilment service or not. Where it becomes a problem is that Amazon won’t fulfil orders that are not generated on Amazon’s sales site, so you have to maintain a separate fulfilment operation if you operate your own website or sell through other channels.

      You’d think that this restriction of “only Amazon orders fulfilled” would make Amazon fulfilment unattractive to sellers with existing sales channels in place, and obviously so did Amazon, so that’s why it stepped over the line of what’s legal, and started limiting its promotional services, search placement and advertising campaigns on the on-line sales platform only to sellers who were also paying Amazon to fulfil the orders. That’s a classic case of anti-trust activity: using leverage in one market to remove competition in another.

      1. fandom

        "Where it becomes a problem is that Amazon won’t fulfil orders that are not generated on Amazon’s sales site"

        Of course they don't and, according to the article, that's not the reason for the fine.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Did you actually read the comment you replied to?

          1. fandom

            Of course not, I just copied and pasted at random

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          Out of context

          @fandom "Of course they don't and, according to the article, that's not the reason for the fine"

          What you quoted, is out of context without the rest of Kristian Walsh's sentence.

          "Where it becomes a problem is that Amazon won’t fulfil orders that are not generated on Amazon’s sales site, so you have to maintain a separate fulfilment operation if you operate your own website or sell through other channels."

          Kristian Walsh was pointing out the problem of maintaining a separate fulfilment operation if you sell through other channels.

          1. fandom

            Re: Out of context

            And your full quote is completely out of context with the article.

            Again, unless the article is completely wrong, that's not the problem which caused the fine.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: Out of context

              Partly it is, and AGCM pointed it out.

              Sellers that don't sell through Amazon only, or prefer other logistics services, could be forced to have to deal with two separate warehouse and shipping services if they don't want to use Amazon one and be excluded from some Amazon features. And evidently that increases their costs and makes their business less efficient, while Amazon still subtract customers and orders from other services.

              Because as usual both sides of Amazon services are designed to rule them all and in the One Warehouse bind them.

            2. Falmari Silver badge

              Re: Out of context

              How can a comment highlighting a reason for not wanting to use Fulfillment by Amazon be out of context with an article about sellers being harmed if they don't use Fulfillment by Amazon?

          2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: Out of context

            I'm sure a lot of people would complain if Amazon offered to carry out the logistics for sales through other websites and charged for it.

            Alternative view is that maybe Amazon are doing a favour to other logistics companies by leaving some business for them.

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Holmes

      An explanation

      If you search on Amazon for a half linguine long widget you will get hundreds of results, including the small independent operation - Artisan Widgets (hereinafter AW).

      Amazon starts the monopoly through its filters. The first is free shipping by Amazon, not free shipping by the seller. If AW is the only maker of these, it's filtered out of the results entirely.

      AW's only hope is if someone else is a seller that is fulfilled by Amazon. In that case below the gimme my widget button is an other sellers link where they would show up.

      Beyond that first layer of monopolization, AW can't participate in Amazon's Subscribe and Save plan even if they are willing and able to do so. Also if AW has a Cyber Someday sale, it won't show up in Amazon's Cyber sale. And if Amazon offers a discount on selected widgets during the normal year, AW will not be able to participate.

      Myself, I get my widgets from AW's website but for those who start their search at Amazon they will never get there.

      That is the monopoly power being fined.

  4. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Amazon is a store

    Don't understand.

    If you don't want to use Amazon because they charge too much, use their own courier networks or whatever then don't. Set up your own web site and do the other thing.

    When Amazon stops you setting up that web site or uses it's market presence to undermine your trading structure *outside Amazon* then it is anti-competitive behaviour. What seems to be happening here is based on complaints around how Amazon works and charges internally. Traders could just walk away if they could do better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon is a store

      "Traders could just walk away if they could do better"

      Problem is the masses have been drawn into a mindset that says "I'll just look on Amazon/eBay", so the little/medium guy, even some big guys, are being pushed out of the market because they are either not on Amazon/eBay or only have a minor presence because they haven't signed up to full package

      Google & co don't help because the tat bazaars tend to be pushed to the top of their listings, even when you are searching for something other than to purchase that object

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Amazon is a store

        I do have a boilerplate text with quite a few -site: entries (including amazon, ebay & others) that I often append to searches to avoid getting lots of "sales" junk hits cluttering my results, but that's obviously not a typical user behaviour

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon is a store

      Yes, I can see you don't understand, if monopoly is too hard a game for you, I think you should try another easier to understand news sourcel like cbeebies.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon is a store

      Forcing customers to buy another of your services when they only want to have one is an anti-competitive practice. And yes, as it happens, "forcing" does not exclusively mean putting a gun to their heads. Reducing their visibility during major sales to reduce their turnover also counts.

    4. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Amazon is a store

      That's the free market argument - if you don't like how Amazon treats you, sell elsewhere.

      That works... in absence of a monopoly. A market with a monopoly is not free. It can't self-regulate effectively.

      Governments are especially keen to prevent monopoly actors from gaining additional monopolies; the market distortion should remain contained as much as possible. Which is what's going on here.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Good point.

    At least with such a fine, the Italian authorities got the attention of Amazon. That's the good way to do it.

  6. Alumoi Silver badge

    Wake me up

    when the fine is collected. In full.

  7. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

    In terms of using the prime filter, I perhaps get what the regulator is trying to say.

    That said, for cheaper items, there are usually 100s of options and I personally just don't like bothering to read their delivery cost and conditions.

    I pay for Prime with free shipping, so uhh, I tend to click on the filter that shows me 20+ options with free Amazon shipping. It's not set by default, but it is useful.

    I have had some ridiculous situations when I haven't used Amazon shipping. I once bought a £11 falafel scoop and waited 5 weeks for it arrive, where I hadn't noticed it was "free delivery from Lebanon" to the UK.

  8. JassMan Silver badge
    IT Angle

    @low resolution foxxes

    I once bought a £11 falafel scoop and waited 5 weeks for it arrive, where I hadn't noticed it was "free delivery from Lebanon" to the UK.

    In reality you prolly waited 5 weeks for the Lebanese refugee to get a boat across the channel and he carved your scoop while waiting in the refugee processing centre in Kent.

    OK I admit it, I am pissed as a newt having had 2 large Aberlour 18YO while waiting the delicious smelling leek & chicken I just made to finish baking in the oven.

  9. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Windows

    2?!

    Slacker

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