Amazon tried to make millions of shoppers pay more for items, claims complaint

Amazon has been accused of steering hundreds of millions of shoppers to higher-priced items in order to earn extra fees in a proposed US class action.

The complaint, which was filed in Amazon’s home state of Washington, accuses the company of violating consumer protection law.

It said that the online retail giant’s algorithms for choosing what to display in the ‘Buy Box’ when shoppers search for products often obscures cheaper options with faster delivery times.

Amazon, the complaint continues, allegedly created the algorithm to benefit participants of the Fulfillment by Amazon programme where the company handles inventory storage, packing and shipping, returns and other services on behalf of sellers. These sellers pay “hefty fees” the complaint adds.

The complaint, filed by California residents Jeffrey Taylor and Robert Selway, states: "While ostensibly identifying the selection that consumers would make if they considered all the available offers, Amazon's Buy Box algorithm deceptively favours Amazon's own profits over consumer well-being.”

Amazon, which is also facing other private litigation over the “Buy Box” over harm to consumers, has not commented on the complaint.

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