Amazon prevails in US consumer lawsuit over product listings

A US federal judge has dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit against e-commerce giant Amazon, which alleged the company misled consumers through its product listing practices.

The ruling, handed down by US District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle, found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how they were harmed by Amazon's alleged deceptive practices.

The lawsuit, filed in February by two California residents, centred on Amazon's "buy box" feature – the prominent section on product pages where customers can quickly add items to their cart. The plaintiffs claimed that Amazon's algorithm unfairly favoured its own retail offers or those from sellers using the company's "Fulfilment by Amazon" service, potentially causing consumers to pay higher prices.

Judge Pechman's decision highlighted that the plaintiffs did not identify specific purchases they would have made differently or lower-priced alternatives they could have bought from other sellers. However, the judge has granted the consumers 30 days to file an amended lawsuit, leaving the door open for further legal action.

Amazon defended its practices, arguing that there is nothing unfair about a retailer showcasing product offerings it believes will appeal to customers, while still allowing consumers to make their own choices.

This case is one of several legal challenges Amazon currently faces. The US Federal Trade Commission has separately accused the company of using deceptive design tactics to trick customers into automatically renewing Prime subscriptions, allegations which Amazon denies.

While this ruling represents a victory for Amazon, it underscores the ongoing scrutiny of ecommerce practices and their impact on consumer choice and pricing. As online shopping continues to dominate retail, the legal landscape surrounding these issues is likely to evolve further.

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