Three other Amazon sellers plead guilty to price fixing
Every seller wants to know how to get the highest prices for their online sales. But as we have previously warned, the government ensures that sellers do not engage in behavior that it deems anti-competitive and detrimental to consumers.
In July, the government exposed what it called a conspiracy between Amazon sellers to price DVDs and Blu-Ray discs when it announced that a Tennessee seller had pleaded guilty. Today, federal authorities named three other Amazon sellers who pleaded guilty, one from New Jersey and two from New York.
According to the charges, the sellers “have agreed to increase and maintain the prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold in their Amazon Marketplace storefronts.”
While government information against the Tennessee vendor details the allegations, it omits exactly how sellers coordinated prices or set floor prices for each title (it’s hard to believe that online sellers could coordinate prices without using software; in 2015, the Fed tasked several Amazon sellers to use an algorithm to set movie poster prices):
For the purpose of forming and carrying out the indicted suit and conspiracy, the defendant and the co-conspirators did the things they combined and conspired for, including, but not limited to:
a. engaged in discussions in the United States, including within the
Eastern District of Tennessee, regarding the prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold through the Amazon Marketplace platform to customers located in the United States;
b. agreed during these discussions to remove competition by increasing and maintaining specific prices for DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold through the Amazon Marketplace platform to customers located in the United States;
vs. agreed during these discussions to monitor and exchange prices among themselves and with others in order to implement and enforce this agreement;
D. agreed during these discussions to establish a floor price for DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold through the Amazon Marketplace platform to customers located in the United States;
e. tracking the current prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs offered by sellers on the Amazon Marketplace platform to customers located in the United States;
F. Communicated with each other through the use of interstate wire transmissions, including e-mail, SMS, and phone calls;
g. sold DVDs and Blu-Ray discs through the Amazon Marketplace platform in the United States at collusive and uncompetitive prices; and
h. accepted payment for sales of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold through the Amazon Marketplace platform to customers located in the United States at collusive and non-competitive prices.
It is also interesting that the government described one of the sales affected by the defendant to US customers of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs sold on the Amazon Marketplace as totaling $ 360.00. (How many readers want to know his profit on these sales?)
We don’t know if or how many additional sellers could be charged in this case – the Department of Justice’s antitrust division called this an “ongoing investigation” and said anyone with information regarding the pricing or other anti-competitive behavior related to the sale of DVDs, Blu-Ray discs or other products sold through Amazon Marketplace should contact its Chicago office.
The ad also quoted Jonathan Kanter of the Antitrust Division: “As American consumers turn more and more to e-commerce, it is extremely important to deter, detect and prosecute crimes that prevent fair and open competition in markets. online markets. These accusations demonstrate the antitrust division’s continued commitment to prosecute anti-competitive behavior wherever it occurs.
According to a page on the Department of Justice website, the Tennessee man was due to be sentenced today (January 7, 2022) and the other three defendants are due to be sentenced on September 30, 2022.