⌛ A new lawsuit claims Amazon makes products too expensive
The attorney general of Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit last week that may contain the missing ingredient for proving antitrust versus Amazon.
The lawsuit is about prices: For years, Amazon barred U.S. merchants from selling their goods anywhere else for a lower price, according to the lawsuit. Although that practice was changed in 2019, Washington D.C.'s attorney general contends Amazon replaced it with a policy that is effectively the same. (Amazon denies this.)
To prove an antitrust action, the U.S. requires consumers be harmed: Many other Amazon lawsuits have seemingly lacked this component. But Washington D.C. suggests the pressure on merchants leads to higher prices for consumers in the overall market. That is what you call affecting consumer welfare.
Antitrust experts are split on the case’s chances for success. The consumer harm component is an obvious plus for the Washington D.C. attorney general, but others question why the suit wasn’t filed sooner when Amazon had a more official approach to setting merchants’ prices.
Whatever happens, this suit may not be as far-reaching as the federal cases against Amazon. Other states, however, could still join D.C.