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15 August 2019
In 2017 and 2018 the Federal Competition Authority (FCA) started receiving individual complaints regarding business practices on the 'Amazon.de' marketplace. Further, in December 2018 the Austrian Trade Association, a voluntary interest group representing trading companies, filed a formal complaint against Amazon Services Europe Sàrl (Amazon) regarding business practices and behaviour towards Austrian traders offering their goods on the Amazon marketplace, in particular relating to Amazon Services Europe Business Solutions agreements (BSAs). Similar cases were investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office and the European Commission. The FCA has coordinated investigations with both authorities and, in particular, cooperated closely with the Federal Cartel Office.
The complaints were based on numerous factual representations by marketplace traders submitted to the trade association. Subsequently, the FCA and the Trade Association received numerous further complaints regarding business practices on the 'Amazon.de' marketplace from traders concerning, among other things:
The FCA conducted an extensive market survey in which approximately 400 of the top-selling Austrian marketplace traders on 'Amazon.de' were interviewed in writing and via telephone. More than 80% of the addressed dealers returned the required documents to the FCA. The survey results, which showed that Amazon had market power for a representative selection of larger Austrian marketplace traders, may be summarised as follows:
During the procedure, Amazon offered to change its terms and conditions:
The FCA has reviewed the amendments to the terms and conditions submitted. In principle, the revised terms and conditions are suitable both for essentially eliminating the concerns expressed and for helping to eliminate the majority of the objected terms and conditions in future.
Amazon has confirmed that the contract amendments will come into force on 16 August 2019. The FCA will therefore not pursue the objections in question for the time being with the promised adjustments to the terms and conditions. However, individual aspects will continue to be monitored. This applies in particular to communications and logistics. Should qualified complaints show that individual measures or changes to the BSA cited in Amazon's submission are unsuccessful, the FCA reserves the right to investigate further.
Similarly, if new facts which have not yet been taken into account become known, a new procedure may be initiated and the results of the present investigation may also be used. The FCA expressly upholds the recommendation that Amazon names a contact person to whom dealers can turn directly and seems unlikely to file an application with the cartel court for establishment, cease and desist or fines.
For further information on this topic please contact Dieter Hauck at Preslmayr Attorneys at Law by telephone (+431 533 16 95) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Preslmayr Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at www.preslmayr.at.
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