back to article EU watchdog sniffing around Amazon's merchant data collection

The European Commission is asking whether Amazon's role as a platform that merchants can use to sell products and its role as the merchants' competitor raises antitrust concerns. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager acknowledged the investigation during a press conference discussing Luxembourg's non-taxation of McDonald's profits …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GDPR ?

    Surely peoples purchasing choices are personal data. So for the merchant to share it with Amazon, there has to be consent given at the point of acquisition. And Amazon aren't allowed to make transfer of that data a condition of providing their services to the merchant (and ultimately the customer) ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDPR ?

      I think there is an exemption when you are selling someone something, it's not like you can be forced to give it them for free.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDPR ?

      Sorry no.

      That personal information that they capture is required to fulfill the shipment. Using it for analytics to help improve their business is also allowed.

      You the consumer are not harmed... but the stores that fulfill thru Amazon are.

      Amazon knows the prices the other stores charge and can automate a function to price an item at a percentage of the other sellers. So that they may not be the cheapest, but they can figure out the demand for the product, their current inventory, the current inventory of their competitors and then set a price.

      It all depends on the product and the demand.

      1. Pseu Donyme

        Re: GDPR ?

        >Using it for analytics to help improve their business is also allowed.

        If personal information is processed with the justification of carrying out a contract then it may only be processed for that purpose. Doing anything else with it - such as "improve their business" - needs a separate justification, usually consent. The legitimate interest justification could apply, but there is apparently a high bar to using it* - as there should be lest this becomes a general purpose loophole that'd make GDPR internally inconsistent and effectively null and void.


        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: GDPR ?

          It is not personal data if Amazon keep details of the total numbers of product a particular merchant sells, and the selling price, without the details of who bought them; and that is very useful if Amazon are considering selling it themselves.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "Doing anything else with it [..] needs [..] consent"

          Did you check your Amazon account T&Cs?

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: GDPR ?

      " So for the merchant to share it with Amazon, there has to be consent given at the point of acquisition."

      The purchase is made THROUGH Amazon. The user is giving their data to Amazon to pass on to the merchant. I think it's naive on part of current customers to believe that the data they send to their chosen retailer through Amazon is invisible to Amazon, even though that SHOULD be the case.

      I guess the EU commish is investigating to make sure that Amazon keep their mitts off data that is not meant for them

  2. Aitor 1 Silver badge


    What do they have to research, investigate?

    You have to give Amazon the supplier info and EANs of all the products, and they DO limit sales to themselves.. using the merchant supplied info to cut a deal.

    This is known, and it has been reported YEARS ago. Not difficult to check, either..

    So if this is illegal, act, otherwise, keep silent.

    A couple of links about that:

    One of them is in Spanish, sorry about that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It must, however, be galling for Jeff Bezos that the tax deal the Golden Arches burger-flingers cut with Luxembourg has been cleared of being “illegal state aid” – precisely the opposite of its decision in the Amazon case."

    Maybe he should have paid more attention, then? McD stopped its funky organization in 2016, and Luxembourg decided to change its taxation rules. Unlike Ireland, they did not try to pretend that all they did was perfectly right and proper. Also, do note that the US were involved in allowing this to happen via the tax treaty they had with Luxembourg.

  4. msknight Silver badge

    An investigation just beginning

    At least there's years worth of complaints that they can investigate, like this one going back to 2012 -

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The devil you know...

    Yes, Amazon misuses the data.

    They can see who’s selling what and what’s a hot product. So they can and will sell the product at a slightly lower price. They have no risk. They already know where the company buys the product since they stock it and ship it for the sites. (Its not just the GUI but also the logistics that make some vendors use Amazon)

    So Amazon has no or little risk when they sell a product against a store that was already selling it. They know it will sell and they will capture a percentage of the market. And they also know which shoppers to avoid because of the high volume of returns. (e.g. Joe Blow who returns 20% of what he buys ... ok, sorry we’re out of stock, but there are 4 other companies that sell thru Amazon who can still sell to you...

    Think about that for a second. That’s a high margin with minimal risk.

  6. DougS Silver badge

    What is there to investigate

    It is obvious they do this, Amazon will even admit it. The question is whether the EU putting a stop to it will have any effect at all that helps us out here in the US.

    Amazon's obvious long term goal is to make third party retailers dependent on them by first processing orders for them (check) then handling inventory/shipping for them (check) and then they can cut out the middleman and simply add those products to their own stock at a lower price and free shipping covered by Prime and the third party retailer sinks without a trace. Once all the competition is gone other than Alibaba, Walmart, and a few also-rans they can start raising their prices because there won't be anyone left to undersell them.

    Their ultimate goal is to own the planet, like Buy-N-Large did in Wall-E.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is there to investigate

      If you dont co operate with them, your listings suddenly start dropping down the search returns, even if the EXACT name is entered.

      Had this happen to me; I could enter the exact description of an item into the Amazon search box, and it would display EIGHT PAGES of stuff that DIDNT match the search string, before it might - sometimes - display my item.

      Then a brand new seller, sending the same direct products from China, shot to the top of the listings using my product names and EAN numbers.

      I dont have an Amazon store now; I'll still shop with them, but only if I cannot get the item direct from another seller.

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