Last year, Amazon and Apple struck up a major partnership that allowed the tech giant to list its products on the e-commerce shop’s website. The two seemed like a match made in heaven—and they were—until the FTC began investing their agreement for potential antitrust violations.
According to a report from The Verge, hundreds of legitimate sellers that were offering low-cost and refurbished Apple products had been kicked off the Amazon platform. Lawyers have been reaching out to these independent sellers to get an understanding of how the Amazon-Apple deal has impacted their businesses.
John Bumstead, who specializes in refurbished Macs, said the FTC wanted all the details on how product listings work on both Amazon and eBay. He explained to them that on Amazon, you tag on to an existing listing rather than creating a brand new one. When that listing gets deleted, it likely means sellers will no longer be able to offer that type of product on Amazon.
Independent sellers were then forced to apply to become an Apple Authorized Reseller and as part of the Apple Renewed Program. Entry into the program was nearly impossible for individuals and smaller businesses being that sellers are quired to post ten million dollars worth of sales per year before they can even be considered. Because of these unrealistic expectations, Bumstead and many other third-party sellers were forced to leave the Amazon Marketplace.
Bumstead said “Amazon created a bunch of renewed listings from the people who were certified, and they let those people sell on those listings, and they abandoned everyone else.”
Experts believe the he shady deal could be grounds for several antitrust complaints including brand gating, price-fixing, and illegal market allocation. Not to mention, Apple is already facing a number of different antitrust investigations and lawsuits in addition to this one, including: a Justice Department investigation, investigations in South Korea and Europe, and lawsuits from app store customers and developers.
The Verge reached out to both Apple and Amazon about the accusations but both companies declined to comment. Rest assured however, this story is just getting started.