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FTC Looking Into Amazon Discount-Pricing Policy: Report

USA TODAY
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/07/20/ftc-looking-into-amazon-discount-pricing-policy-report/497532001/

SAN FRANCISCO — The Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Amazon's discount-pricing policies misled consumers, according to a report today.

The probe comes on the heels of a complaint by advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which examined 1,000 products on the retailer's website and concluded 61% with list prices were overpriced, Reuters said. 

The FTC, which is reviewing Amazon's proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, declined comment.

Amazon and Consumer Watchdog, which filed its complaint earlier this month, were not immediately available for comment.

In a letter to the federal Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the FTC’s Bureau of Competition this month, John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director, wrote, “Amazon must not be allowed to expand these deceptive practices to a whole new pool of unsuspecting customers. We call on you to block the proposed purchase of Whole Foods until Amazon formally consents to stop its deceptive, unfair and anti-competitive pricing.”

A congressman, concerned about potential antitrust and competition in the Amazon-Whole Foods deal, wants the House to hold a hearing on the issue.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., this week urged Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee chairman, and Tom Marino, R-Pa., chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, to examine potential anti-trust issues stemming from Amazon's bid to buy Whole Foods.

Despite concerns over the potential anti-competitive nature of Amazon's vast enterprises — it offers more than 400 million products for sale — customers have flocked to its low prices, speedy delivery and customer service. 

Follow USA TODAY's San Francisco Bureau Chief Jon Swartz @jswartz on Twitter.