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FTC probes complaints of Amazon's discounts

21 July 2017

As part of its review of Amazon's agreement to buy Whole Foods, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into allegations that Amazon misled customers about its pricing discounts, according to a source close to the probe, Reuters reported.

The FTC is looking into a complaint brought by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which focused on some 1,000 products on Amazon's website in June and  found that Amazon put reference prices, or list prices, on about 46 per cent of them.

According to an analysis, in 61 per cent of products with reference prices, Amazon's reference prices were higher than it had sold the same product in the previous 90 days, Consumer Watchdog said in a letter to the FTC dated 6 July.

On receipt of the letter, the agency made informal inquiries about the allegations, a source who spoke on background to preserve business relationships revealed, Reuters reported.

It was not known if the agency would launch a formal probe into the allegations.

In a statement, Amazon said that the 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."

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