Tribunal decides between two competing multi-million-pound consumer lawsuits against Amazon for overcharging UK consumers
Two consumer champions seeking compensation from Amazon for overcharging UK customers who used its ‘Buy Box’ feature faced a court decision about which claim can proceed.
Amazon is accused, in separate claims filed by Robert Hammond and Julie Hunter, of not offering customers the best deals.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled in favour of Robert Hammond’s claim against Amazon after what it described as a ‘hard-fought race’.
Both claims were judged by the Tribunal as being capable of progressing but they had to decide which was the best case to take forward.
The decision in the end came down to the Tribunal’s views on the strength of the proposed methodology for proving wrongdoing by Amazon.
Hammond is represented by law firms Hagens Berman EMEA LLP and Charles Lyndon Limited.
Rodger Burnett, founder of law firm Charles Lyndon who is representing Hammond, said:
‘Along with co-counsel Hagens Berman, we are delighted with the outcome and look forward to obtaining redress for the millions of consumers who have overpaid for products due to Amazon’s abuse of their dominant market position.
‘Hopefully, in the future, parties may be able to collaborate and join forces so that the focus can be upon obtaining redress for the class members.’
Julie Hunter, an independent consultant and consumer advocate who is represented by Hausfeld & Co. LLP, said:
‘As someone who is passionate about empowering and protecting consumers, naturally I am disappointed with the Tribunal’s decision.
‘However, this ruling in no way lessens the case against Amazon. It remains critical that Amazon is held to account for abusing its dominant position in the marketplace, and that consumers get the redress they deserve.’
Hammond will now seek permission from the Tribunal to take his claim to trial.
Amazon accused of not offering customers the best deals
Hammond has accused the tech giant of overcharging customers by manipulating how it presents products to customers – favouring its own retail offers and that from sellers who use Amazon’s logistic services.
Hammond, who is seeking up to £1.3 billion in compensation for 49.4m UK consumers in this claim, said:
‘I believe we are being misled and are paying over the odds for some products. It’s time for consumers to be made aware of what I can only define as underhanded practice, for it to be stopped and for Amazon customers to be compensated for years of being ripped off.’
It is estimated that more than 80% of Amazon shoppers in the UK bought the product shown in Amazon’s Buy Box. And it is in its Buy Box that Amazon is accused of favouring its own products over those from independent sellers.
Who could be eligible for compensation?
If the claim is won, all UK consumers who bought products from Amazon’s marketplace at amazon.co.uk, from 1 October 2015 to at least 1 June 2020 could be eligible for compensation. Sign up to Consumer Voice to stay updated as the claim progresses.
Amazon commits to improve the way it treats competitors
The Competition and Markets Authority secured commitments from Amazon in November to give independent sellers a fair chance of their offers being featured in the site’s ‘Buy Box’ where most sales on the platform take place. This followed an investigation by the regulator into Amazon’s anti-competitive business practices that might leave customers worse off.
The Italian Competition Authority fined Amazon €1.1 billion for abusing its dominant position to favour third-party retailers who used its logistic services.
Investigations from the European Commission concluded that Amazon abused its dominance in France, Germany and Spain by unfairly favouring its own retail business with its Buy Box rules.
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Two multi-million-pound lawsuits against Amazon allege it does not always offer customers the best deals. Sign up to stay updated.