We all know amazon.com and their company Amazon, headed by Jeff Bezos, is no stranger to controversy. Many allege Bezos a propaganda agent of the Deep State, with him receiving over $600 Million for the benefit of the Washington Post, to subvert reality with marxist propaganda.
However now the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the website, with it's controversial yet widely popular ‘Prime’ services, for what the FTC calls ‘deceptive discounting’.
As part of its new probe into Amazon's agreement to buy Whole Foods, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into multiple allegations that Amazon intentionally misleads its own customers about its pricing discounts.
The FTC is looking into series of complaints brought by the public advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which personally reviewed at least 1,000 products on Amazon's website just this past June.
During the investigation into the products, the group found that Amazon put reference prices, or list prices, on about 46 percent of them.
“An initial analysis found that in 61 percent of products with preset reference prices, Amazon's reference prices were higher than it had sold the same products in the previous 90 days to the sale.” The Consumer Watchdog wrote in their letter to the FTC dated July 6th.
Following the receipt of the letter, the Federal agency made multiple informal inquiries about the allegations directly to Amazon, according to a source who spoke on anonymously to preserve business relationships.
The FTC declined to make a formal comment about its internal workings in the investigation. It was unknown if the agency would open a formal publicly available probe into the allegations.
Regardless of the news Amazon stock closed up slightly for the day at $1,028.70 per share. Amazon said in an official statement today that Consumer Watchdog's study was "deeply flawed."
"The conclusions the Consumer Watchdog group reached are flat out wrong," Amazon said. "We validate the reference prices provided by manufacturers, vendors and sellers against actual prices recently found across Amazon and other retailers."
The newest review of Amazon's claims of ‘discount pricing’ is an indication that the FTC is taking a honest approach to looking at the e-commerce company's new agreement to buy Whole Foods, a deal that many critics say could give Amazon an unfair advantage.
Consumer Watchdog argued that the many deceptive listing prices make Amazon prices look like a better bargain than they actually are, asking the FTC to stop Amazon from buying Whole Foods while the deceptive discounting is continuing to occur.
I can say myself that I've bought products through Amazon that in search results show one price, and upon clicking I cannot find goods for the originally advertised price. Certainly others have noticed this as well.
The FTC plays a generous dual role of probing the charges of deceptive advertising while simultaneously assessing mergers to promise competition that these business deals comply with antitrust laws.
Amazon said in early June that it would buy the premium grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, a move that will surely strengthen the already rock solid profit margins of the company.
The FTC has a "Guide Against Deceptive Pricing", which warns both companies and consumers against "fictitious" or "inflated" listed prices for the purpose of making the price charged appear as if those seeking to purchase are getting a bargain.
Amazon has previously settled similar allegations with Canada's Competition Bureau in January of this year. In that case it paid a fine of C$1 million or $756,658.60 as part of the settlement agreement.
Amazon was in a dispute with FTC in 2014 for easily allowing children to run up their parents bills while playing games such as "Pet Shop Story" and "Ice Age Village" on mobile devices, resulting in an estimated $86 million of unauthorized charges to the parents.
In those cases Amazon was ordered by the FTC to reimburse parents for the charges which their children were easily able to purchase.