Amazon

Amazon, the online retail and giant, is about to face a lawsuit that could see it pay customers in the UK £900 million (€1,027 million), as a consumer rights campaigner invites shoppers in the UK to sign up and participate.

The issue centres about a ‘buy box’ campaigners say unfairly promotes Amazon-produced products, arguing that this puts competitors at a disadvantage and effectively inreasing the value of sales.

Julie Hunter, a consumer rights champion pointed out that nine of 10 shoppers in the UK have used Amazon, and two-thirds use it once a month or more.

She alleged that Amazon uses “tricks of design to manipulate consumer choice and direct customers towards the featured offer in its buy box”.

The ‘buy box’ is hugely lucrative for Amazon, which sees around 80 per cent of its sales in the UK coming through offers featured in the box.

Ms Hunter alleges independent sellers are being excluded from the buy box despite offering the same product for less – thus breaching UK and EU competition law.

The legal challenge is due to be filed by the end of October.

The collective action is due to be filed before the end of the month.

Started as an online bookseller, Amazon is now the biggest e-commerce company in the world.

More than 80% of purchases on the site are made via featured offers in the “buy box”.

But Ms Hunter alleges independent sellers are excluded from the buy box, even when they offer the same product cheaper or on better terms – thus breaching UK and EU competition law.

Anyone living in the UK who has made purchases on Amazon.co.uk or the Amazon mobile app since October 2016 is an eligible member of the claimant class.

Ms Hunter added: “Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to set the rules in its favour and treat consumers unfairly. That is why I am bringing this action.”

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