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French gov files €10m complaint: Claims Amazon abused dominance

Probe found unfair contracts for sellers

By Richard Priday

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The French government is seeking to fine Amazon €10m (£8.8m) for using its market dominance to unfairly treat vendors.

A complaint was filed today with the Paris Commerce Court, the French paper Le Parisien has reported. It quoted an unnamed official who said that filing the complaint was a "strong and unprecedented action".

The €10m would be the largest fine ever handed down by the PCC should the case succeed.

The General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) has been investigating the affairs of online retailers operating in France for two years.

Having now completed its work on Amazon, DGCCRF's director Loïc Tanguy said he believes Amazon imposes unfair contracts on those who sell through its services, vendors having to submit themselves to such agreements in order to benefit from the 3.5 million daily users of amazon.fr.

The terms the regulator highlighted in particular included Amazon's ability to change the terms of contracts or cancel them at at any time, or the fact that the responsibility for shipping guarantees lies with the vendors themselves, leaving vendors to pay for damaged or missing packages.

Last year, The Register reported that UK vendors were having similar problems with the Bezos beast, struggling to get their money back from the company for disputed deliveries.

Amazon is also in the bad books of European governments for its tax payments, having settled with Italy for €100m only today.

An Amazon spokesperson said: "We do not comment on outstanding legal proceedings." ®

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