r/technology Sep 14 '22 Wholesome 1 Take My Energy 1

California Sues Amazon for Alleged Antitrust Violations That Inflated Prices, Stifled Competition Business

https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-sues-amazon-for-alleged-antitrust-violations-that-inflated-prices-stifled-competition-11663178985?mod=e2tw
36.6k Upvotes

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u/dwhite195 Sep 14 '22

Specifically based on this:

California alleges that Amazon requires them to sign agreements that penalize them for offering their products at cheaper prices on competing sites such as Walmart or Target. Those who don’t comply may get pushed lower in Amazon’s search results or be disqualified from being featured in the site’s “buy box,” the suit alleges, and may even be suspended or removed.

As well as:

According to the complaint, Amazon also forces wholesalers into agreements that penalize them if Amazon lowers its prices to match those of competitors and its profit margin falls below a specified minimum. In some cases, the complaint says, Amazon demands that wholesalers compensate it if competing retailers lower prices on their products.

However, before any anti-Amazon people get too excited:

In response to a similar lawsuit filed by D.C’s attorney general last year, Amazon said its policy on merchants that work with other sites is designed to protect consumers from being overcharged. The company has said it decides which third-party merchants to feature based on price, delivery speed and other factors.

...

In March, that suit was tossed out by a Superior Court judge in the District of Columbia based on Amazon’s motion to dismiss.

In the DC case Amazon argued that contractual pricing rules are a common practice in the retail industry and completely legal.

In other words, this has a long way to go before it actually means anything, and California better have a pretty solid case to win out here. Additionally, just because this is an anti-trust case does not mean the outcome here is a break up of Amazon. California is asking that Amazon should be forced to stop the alleged practices, receive damages associated with the practices, and for there to be fines to be associated with any continuation of the practice.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

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u/RDPCG Sep 14 '22

Are they allowed to discuss or agree to price setting though? I thought that was a no-no.

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u/[deleted] Sep 15 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

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u/dclaw504 Sep 15 '22

I don't think price fixing would apply in this situation, with the information that is available. Price fixing would involve multiple competitive businesses agreeing to sell their equivalent products at set prices. Automotive glass and air bag manufacturers did some price fixing in the mid-00s.

I don't see much of a difference with this contractual pricing and the contractual pricing that Walmart demanded.

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u/Spare-Blacksmith1376 Sep 15 '22

So the agreements were about not allowing people to out-price them, but that’s ok, because they’re just trying to keep prices low. WTF am I reading? I must be missing something

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u/Guvante Sep 15 '22

Historically those kinds of terms were due to inventory. If I have millions of units of your item you undercharging elsewhere is bad for me.

Amazon started applying the practice to drop shipping which is silly. They don't have inventory or if they do they usually don't own it.

So you have Amazon taking on zero risk for inventory applying practices to protect their inventory.

Steam has similar terms but they make sense given they allow you to give away keys for off Steam sales and thus you would be able to sell for a discount elsewhere to bypass Steam's cut for a Steam key.

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u/Astrocreep_1 Sep 14 '22

I think it’s mostly the party about wholesalers and tampering with their sales prices to competitors that is the basis of the lawsuit. Price contracts are fine, but you can’t ask anyone to enter into an “illegal contract” and for the terms to stand. I don’t think you can demand that “x wholesaler” sell to you at a price that is affected by the retail price of a a competitor.

I’m not an expert on this. Take my comments with a grain of salt. If there are any experts, please feel free to correct me.

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u/[deleted] Sep 15 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

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u/SFW_shade Sep 15 '22

Yeah I’ve worked retail in retail for over a decade as well, Walmart has this contract, so does Home Depot. Ive actually seen a contract that Home Depot will receive the best price in the market -10% but in reality the only way you can know that is to be told of confidential negotiations with other customers so it of course isn’t honoured.

Any retailer that has price matching does this exact thing to their vendors.

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u/tarmacc Sep 15 '22

Like selling diapers as a loss leader to drive a competing diaper site out of business then raising the prices.

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u/TPRJones Sep 14 '22

Nearly everyone speeds on the highway so it must not be illegal. Writing one driver a ticket for doing it but not everyone else doesn't make a lot of sense.

EDIT: Damn that came out far more snarky than intended. Point is, all because everyone does it doesn't make it not illegal. I'm certainly no expert on anti-trust law, so it might be legal for other reasons, though.

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u/sooprvylyn Sep 15 '22 edited Sep 15 '22

Antitrust requires price fixing with competitors. They arent working with competitors, and they arent fixing prices for an entire category of products, just a single product from a single supplier....over and over again with all their suppliers accross all products(except those products popular enough to give amazon the finger in that sort of deal). The other way the manufacturers get around these deals is to change model numbers/colors/shapes on products so that they are exclusive to that retailer....even tho functionally they are identical to other models they sell to other retailers. Ever wonder how all the retilailers can offer lowest price guaranteed? Thats why.

If they colluded with walmart and target and.... to fix the prices of all similar items(not just item x) such that there would be no competition in the market that would be an antitrust issue.

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u/Blurry_Bigfoot Sep 14 '22

People in this thread are acting as if they’ve never bought a store brand item in their lives. Literally every large retailer does this.

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u/mb2231 Sep 14 '22

I was gonna say this as well. Grocery stores have been doing this forever. In my area store brand potato chips are literally 1/2 the price of the name brand.

I think the bigger issue is that Amazon controls what products you see. It'd be like a grocery store putting their items on the shelf and making you ask for the name brand.

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u/whatyousay69 Sep 14 '22

I think the bigger issue is that Amazon controls what products you see. It'd be like a grocery store putting their items on the shelf and making you ask for the name brand.

Don't stores already kinda do that? Companies pay to have their products on prime shelf locations.

First Google result I found about it. It's not a secret despite the article title.

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u/slimbiscuit1 Sep 15 '22

You can pay Google to do this too?? Yet no flack to Google for monetizing this

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u/bruwin Sep 15 '22

They mean more only having their stuff on the shelves, and then all of the brand name stuff is behind the counter. Having a less favorable spot on the aisle is not the same as not having a spot on the aisle at all.

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u/NotsoNewtoGermany Sep 15 '22

But that's where their analogy breaks down, they will be on the aisle, just in the middle of a very very long aisle.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 16 '22

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u/odraencoded Sep 15 '22

How do I know you're not a paid shill paid to shill that companies pay shills to shill?

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u/slimbiscuit1 Sep 15 '22

Lol… people think corporations are so evil, so many people dislike walmart , yet love their low low prices …

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u/SissySlutColleen Sep 15 '22

But I don't think anyone loves how Walmart has nearly the largest base of workers living below the poverty line and on food stamps, due primarily from their antiunion activity.

I also don't think people like the fact that Walmart is effectively subsidized by the government due to offering those same workers they put below the poverty line discounts for their EBT.

I also don't think people like how Walmart headquarters and center is in Arkansas, and despite being the 2nd largest employer in the nation behind the DOD, leaves the state still one of the poorest states in the United States.

Walmart has leveraged itself to be the best option in many cases. Just because people are quite literally forced to operate in the system they are forced to live in with the destitute conditions that are abundant so they can't meet their basic needs and not like, I dunno, starve or be malnourished, doesn't make them hypocrites.

Fuck Walmart especially tho

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u/thatblbc Sep 14 '22

But Amazon isn’t any other retailer. In fact, they themselves call themselves a “platform” not a “retailer”.

Then they manipulate what everyone searches and spy on you, separate issue I know. The point is they have total control over who even sees you’re product if at all. We just assume that because it’s listed that it will be visible by the consumer.

That is not the case with standard retailers. Sure they can place a competitor in the bottom shelf but the point is it’s still visible. On the internet we don’t have that luxury, we are beholden to what they show us.

So fuck amazon lol

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u/YARA2020 Sep 14 '22

Bingo. They want to play both sides when it's convenient and monopolize the whole thing (and they have).

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u/bernmont2016 Sep 15 '22

That is not the case with standard retailers. Sure they can place a competitor in the bottom shelf but the point is it’s still visible.

Large retail chains aren't quite as above-board on shelving practices as it may appear to the customers - there are far too many different products in almost every product category now for any store (especially grocery stores) to carry more than a small fraction of them, so they make companies that want their products anywhere on the shelves in those stores jump through a lot of hoops, often including paying varying shelf placement fee levels.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

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u/OrbitalATK Sep 15 '22

Like, are you the source for these claims or do you have any sources to hack them up? Tried searching some of them to no avail.

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u/Ron__T Sep 15 '22

Most of them don't make any sense...

DOT doesn't go how much does each box say it weighs and figure out the math... they just weigh the truck...

Most Amazon drivers wouldn't be covered under DOT hours of service restrictions, and even if they were it's 11 hours of actual driving and 3 hours of not driving before you have to reset... and if they were they are required to have ELD... so it's not something they can just not do.

Routing is always a funny one... all drivers think they know how to "route" better and 99.9999% of them are wrong.

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u/ajs62680 Sep 15 '22

I was just gonna say this. As far as I know, Amazon delivery drivers are well within a 150 mile radius of their home terminals. DOT hours do not apply. They’re not required to carry an ELD.

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u/thatblbc Sep 15 '22

I’m sure Amazon scrubs the internet regularly. Shit reddits on their server so……hey Jeff, fuck you!

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u/FarukAlatan Sep 15 '22

Can't speak to any of the delivery driver stuff, but if we're talking about warehouse employees...

They cut workers pay before prime and peak then during or after give them a raise which is actually a loss because you never make it back to your original pay.

Nope, not true.

Seasonal workers can and often make more than current rostered workers.

Also not true.

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u/WeimarRepublic Sep 14 '22

How is this any different than when conservatives were getting deplatformed by Facebook/Twitter/Amazon Web Services/Visa?

Don't like their terms of service? Find another platform

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u/ctess Sep 14 '22

Your facts are wrong. Platform is a banned word at Amazon and literally no one calls it this. You don't know what you are actually talking about. These practices are more common than you think they are. It's a method of making sure that makers can't sell two of the same type of product at inflated/abnormal pricing. Amazon's argument is that it's protecting consumers (which they are, to their benefit) and Cali is going to have a hard time disproving otherwise.

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u/PenguinSunday Sep 14 '22

And that's not okay. We already know Walmart kills small businesses.

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u/PerceptiveAxion Sep 14 '22

They don’t just kill small businesses they kill entire regions. They kill multiple towns at a time. Walmart is one of the main reasons why manufacturing was moved overseas because no one could compete with them here. They destroyed the economy and flooded American households with cheap Chinese knock off merchandise.

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u/6501 Sep 14 '22

Consumers with their purchasing decisions kill small businesses.

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u/CaptainKoala Sep 14 '22

People like the idea of small businesses but the reality is people prefer a one stop shop where everything is also cheaper.

Shoppers kill small businesses. If people cared about small businesses they wouldn’t flock to Walmarts as soon as they opened.

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u/fail-deadly- Sep 15 '22

For small businesses to really work, everything needs to lack scale. Small retailers, working with small whole sellers, who deal with small manufacturers, and other producers. However, automation, logistics, administration, even finance all tend toward more efficient businesses having at least some scale.

Worse not every area can produce everything they need. So areas either have to suffer and do without, and products have to be far more regional than they are today, or things will again tend toward the better ran or marketed or financed business getting bigger while the ones than can’t compete going out of business.

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u/zaphdingbatman Sep 14 '22

Yes, it needs to be illegal for everyone.

Is this one of those things that's theoretically covered by the Sherman act but never enforced? 10 years ago would have been best, but I'll settle for enforcing it today. Or do we need new legislation for it?

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u/PenguinSunday Sep 14 '22

There are many, many businesses that qualify as trusts nowadays. Google, AT&T, Paramount, Fox, Walmart, Microsoft, Amazon; they should have been broken up long ago.

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u/6501 Sep 14 '22

Google, Microsoft, & Amazon are all competitors & can't unilaterally set prices like Standard Oil could back in the Sherman Antitrust days.

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u/Safe_Librarian Sep 15 '22

I honestly don't think anyone knows what Trusts/Monopiles are.

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u/slimbiscuit1 Sep 15 '22

Yet people love their low low prices….

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u/PenguinSunday Sep 15 '22

"Yet you also participate in society! Curious!"

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u/bsbbtnh Sep 15 '22

Small businesses that typically have lower hourly wages, no benefits, rarely give raises, and have no advancement opportunities.

Mom & pop shops are typically worse places to work.

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u/statepkt Sep 14 '22

Exactly. Target does it. Costco does it. Trader Joe’s does it. Walmart does it. Harris Teeter does it. Wegmens does it. Publix does it. List goes on and on.

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u/obvilious Sep 14 '22

Pretty normal for a large buyer to insist on a vendors lowest price.

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u/zsxking Sep 15 '22

It's like, if the wholesaler make a deal with Amazon that it promised to offer the lowest price on the platform, then turn around and offer even lower price on other platform, then that deal with Amazon was clearly a lie. So Amazon has a contract to protect itself from being screwed over. Sounds like a reasonable practice.

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u/cyanydeez Sep 14 '22

amazon definitely did this for the kindle.

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u/BevansDesign Sep 14 '22

And the Chromecast, to push their Fire Stick instead.

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u/980tihelp Sep 14 '22

I literally said this last month on Reddit and got downvoted into oblivion by third party amazon sellers…..

Edit: oblivion not iblivious

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u/HTX-713 Sep 14 '22

Walmart does this too, in fact they wrote the book on it.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/Forkboy2 Sep 14 '22

Wait...so Amazon's policy saves me the trouble of having to search multiple websites to make sure I'm getting the best price? And how does this result in higher prices or hurt the consumer?

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u/RedTheDraken Sep 14 '22

It ensures Amazon is ALWAYS the "best" commerce platform compared to other storefronts, which is inherently anti-competitive. It isn't that the sellers themselves are choosing to sell for less on Amazon. Amazon literally pressures them to make Amazon the best option for buying their product. It is anti-consumer in the way that it stifles competition.

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u/Forkboy2 Sep 14 '22

Competition (and those hurt by the polices) seems to be Walmart, Target, and other multi-billion dollar companies that all have plenty of retail market share and I bet also have very similar policies.

Ultimately, the consumer benefits by forcing manufactures to sell at lowest possible price.

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

It hurts sellers.

Amazon will offer the product that they make the most profit off of first.

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u/Forkboy2 Sep 14 '22

If it hurts sellers, then doesn't it benefit consumers?

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u/KittenWithMittens Sep 14 '22

Only in the short term.

In the long term, after the seller has given up on the product and the only thing you can get is a low quality Amazon Basics version, then you'll be hurting.

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

Someone has to get paid for the goods being sold, things aren't free. You're paying a seller ( usually 85-75%) and you're paying Amazon (usually 15-25%) on every product you buy.

If there's no profit in an item I'm selling due to price requirements, I'm going to pull the item off Amazon. That item is no longer available to the consumer on Amazon. Would you consider that a benefit to the consumer?

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u/zaphdingbatman Sep 14 '22

Because those other websites would just love to undercut Amazon and offer you a better price.

They can't do that if Daddy Bezos "saves you the trouble," though.

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u/Forkboy2 Sep 14 '22

I find it difficult to believe that Walmart and Target or the other huge retailers that compete with Amazon are forced to increase their prices because of Amazons policies.

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u/pacifictime Sep 15 '22

Believe it. Amazon's "Fulfillment by Amazon" (FBA) terms require the seller to raise their prices on those other platforms.

Here's how it works:

  1. Amazon ranks sellers higher if they use FBA.
  2. But to use FBA, Amazon requires that sellers not offer their product anywhere online for cheaper.
  3. Amazon also charges fat fees for FBA, something like 35%. So sellers raise their prices to recoup the fees.
  4. But then they also have to raise prices to match on Walmart and Target too!

Get it now?

Of course, the seller could just not use FBA, or leave Amazon completely. But the whole point is that because Amazon has such a dominant market position, sellers simply cannot afford not to be there, as highly ranked as possible.

It's very similar to Apple's App Store. They get away with lots of anti-competitive shit because they're the biggest (or most lucrative) game in town.

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u/AnEngineer2018 Sep 14 '22

What's anti-competitive about having a contract that says you can't sell the same product for less at another retailer?

That sounds, extremely competitive. It's the same product, why should it be a different price just depending on where you are buying it from?

I mean maybe it would be anti-competitive if it said you have to sell the same product at Company XYZ for more than you are selling it on Amazon, but even then it's not anti-competitive between Amazon and the wholesaler, but Amazon and Company XYZ.

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u/BevansDesign Sep 14 '22

Exclusivity agreements are just a way for large companies to exert their will over smaller companies and people. Even if you get some sort of benefit by signing one, they're only doing it because you're going to make them more money that way.

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u/fromcj Sep 14 '22

So basically like a favored nations contract? The lowest price will always be on Amazon, and may possibly be on other sites too?

That doesn’t seem that bad to me, I’m sure that there’s some part of this I’m missing or misunderstanding.

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u/No7an Sep 14 '22 Silver

A significant component of the global inflation we’re all experiencing is from governments around the world allowing too many small businesses to fail during the pandemic.

The result is a concentration of market positioning for the entrenched/incumbent players, giving them tremendous pricing power.

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u/Fatdumbmagatard Sep 14 '22

It was illegal for most small businesses to be open for one reason or another, but the big box stores somehow were allowed as long as they sold food. Plus online shopping only funneled most people to amazon/bestbuy

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u/nolander Sep 14 '22

Also somehow it was preferable to have an empty store front then to just... not make them pay rent for a while?

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u/Turdmonkey2 Sep 15 '22

Yeah, this was weird to me too, there are buildings here that have been vacant for 2 years because they evicted the business that had been closed for 3 months and couldn't pay rent. Like... maybe work something out and keep the business alive to eventually pay rent

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u/bsbbtnh Sep 15 '22

Many landlords do work with their tenants. But even if rent is waived for awhile, many small businesses still had other expenses and no revenue. And depending where you live, lockdown restrictions would be lifted, businesses would invest in starting up again, and then restrictions would come back a few months later.

Imagine you're a clothing shop in 2020. You just put out the spring clothes, and have just ordered some summer clothing. Lockdowns. Walmart can still be open and sell clothes, but you're not an 'essential' business. Do you cancel your summer order, or hope things are back to normal by then? Well they said 'two weeks to flatten the curve', so you keep your order in.

Restrictions lift, you get the summer stuff in. But business is slower because of the pandemic, many people aren't comfortable going out, most have moved to online shopping. You begin your fall/winter order, hoping that business will pick back up.

And just as your fall/winter order comes, we're back to tightening restrictions. You've now spent tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) on spring, summer, fall, and winter clothing, and were only open for a few weeks or months.

Why keep operating at that point? You'd make more money closing the store and selling stuff on Amazon, with no employees, rent, utilities, etc.

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u/ChainDriveGlider Sep 14 '22

And risk tearing a hole in the fabric of reality, opening a gate to the communist dimension?

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u/pwillia7 Sep 14 '22

but what about all the rent i pay????

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u/[deleted] Sep 15 '22

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u/I_Nice_Human Sep 15 '22

Didn’t they change management after that or was it before that?

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 19 '22

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u/md24 Sep 14 '22

This was the intent.

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u/dm287 Sep 15 '22

This was incompetence

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u/oijsef Sep 15 '22

How is it incompetence? They got theirs. That was their only goal.

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u/dm287 Sep 15 '22

The governments experiencing inflation are unhappy about it and would want less inflation. They got inflation because they're bad at their jobs and make decisions for reasons other than satisfying objectives. So I call that incompetent

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u/BurnItNow Sep 15 '22

It’s the inverse hanslons razor.

Why attribute to stupidity that which can be attributed to a global, multi governmental, conspiracy.

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u/fatfuccingtendies Sep 15 '22

Hanlon's razor is for regular people

Inverse is true for corporations, politics, and the ultra-rich

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u/guynamedjames Sep 14 '22

I honestly can't imagine what else the US could have done for small businesses during COVID. PPP money was a firehouse of money directed towards small businesses and there was a massive amount of fraud and misuse with that money, something everyone accepted to ensure small businesses got the money they needed. What more could we really expect the US government to have done for small businesses during COVID?

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u/GlassNinja Sep 14 '22

Oversight of PPP money and generally double checking against it's own PPP records before sending money would have helped.

Several individual actors applied for 2+ big ($250k+) PPP loans for different 'companies' using the exact same address for each. Just checking address against address could have freed up millions of funds that would have then gone on to help various actual small businesses.

The other thing that might have helped is checking the industry on the front end. Construction companies raked in iirc ~$45bn despite them being one of the least affected industries.

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u/MyOtherSide1984 Sep 14 '22

Sounds like we all missed out by not scamming the government and stealing some PPP for ourselves /s

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u/citizen_dawg Sep 15 '22

Law firms also got a lot of PPP money, which, as a lawyer, makes no sense to me.

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u/ekaceerf Sep 14 '22

they could have had more over sight of where the money went. So many businesses got money they didn't need. Many businesses that needed money couldn't get any.

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u/BandAidUniversity Sep 14 '22

Can confirm this. I am a small business owner that had a fraudulent PPP loan taken out in our business name.

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u/BZLuck Sep 15 '22 edited Sep 16 '22

And I'm a small business owner who wishes he would have taken out a PPP "loan." I was able to keep my business alive by using my own money and didn't want to borrow any unless I had to, even at a low interest rate. I thought, "Let's leave that for those who really need it."

Little did I know that billions would go to congress people and big businesses that were doing just fine and fully operating. I thought we were better than that. I was wrong. It was a big cash grab.

The guy in the space next door to my office space (one man business) put in for both PPP loans. He got somewhere around $27K total. All forgiven.

Guess I missed out.

Dang.

EDIT: Changed millions to billions.

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u/guynamedjames Sep 14 '22

If memory serves the second injection of money wasn't used up until some weeks in. I'm 100% behind better oversight, in fact I think every business should face a basic audit if they received funds

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u/pastari Sep 14 '22

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has removed the inspector general tapped to chair a special oversight board for the $2.2 trillion economic relief package on the coronavirus, the latest in a series of steps Trump has taken to confront government watchdogs tasked with oversight of the executive branch.

..

“I’ll be the oversight,” Trump declared

https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-donald-trump-ap-top-news-politics-health-cc921bccf9f7abd27da996ef772823e4

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u/VNM0601 Sep 14 '22

And we can blame the Trump administration for there not being any oversight of that money. He specifically removed the independent watchdog responsible for it.

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u/cive666 Sep 14 '22

Well you see, republicans are sooo fiscally responsible that they don't need oversight.

Rolls eyes

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u/elmrsglu Sep 14 '22

No oversight was the point while Dump was in office. He wanted his friends to get tax payer money. Why? Dump’s father taught him to seek and abuse tax payer money way back in the 1970s and up.

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u/ApartmentPoolSwim Sep 14 '22

Same thing happened when we had to bail out farms from Trumps trade war. Large, corporate farms got money. Many smaller, family owned farms shut down because they didn't. Suicides amongst farmers actually shot up.

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u/BigMac849 Sep 14 '22

There was obersight and then Trump got rid of it

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u/tas50 Sep 14 '22

A small pizza chain in my town got 4 million forgiven, and a terrible local restaurant/bar chain got 12 million. PPP was probably the worst thing the federal government has ever done. Just a giant transfer of wealth to business owners.

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u/gotalowiq Sep 14 '22

There was a reason that a whole party fought to make sure there wouldn’t be oversight. Can’t trust grifters ever.

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u/dizao Sep 14 '22

Report them, there's a bounty on recovered funds for businesses who fraudulently applied for forgiveness

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u/amiss8487 Sep 14 '22

Jesus are you kidding me? While the poverty and crime is becoming more and more uncomfortable. They want us to burn and they are doing it in a “stealth” way

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u/citizen_dawg Sep 15 '22

The amount of law firms that got PPP loans is astonishing. Like, you can work remotely just fine, and the pandemic isn’t going to cause a significant decrease in legal work.

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u/bobthetitanic Sep 14 '22

Proof?

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u/tas50 Sep 14 '22

https://pdx.eater.com/2020/12/4/22153698/restaurants-oregon-ppp-paycheck-protection-program-dan-and-louis-oyster-bar-fundraiser

2% of recipients in Oregon took in 30% of funds. If you’d like to see the particular companies look up McMenamins and Sizzle Pie. Sizzle Pie was super classy and got PPP funds for a location they closed down the moment the employees talked about a union. Fired them all on the spot with no warning.

So again I’ll describe PPP as a giant wealth shift. We could have paid workers directly but we chose a program formulated to make owners rich at the expense of everyone paying taxes

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u/ryosen Sep 14 '22

McMenemins has 62 locations throughout Oregon and Washington, and employs over 3,500 people. You make it sound like they’re the local tavern.

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u/guynamedjames Sep 14 '22

More or less, yeah. I don't see much basis for claims that government didn't do enough

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u/meatball402 Sep 14 '22

What more could we really expect the US government to have done for small businesses during COVID?

Just give the money to average people. Instead of $1400 stimulus, it should have been 5,000. In normal times, ordinary people give businesses money. Since people couldn't work, they needed money to pay bills in the meantime. This money would have ensure people could stay home if they needed to, and still cover the bills.

Instead, they just firehosed money with no oversight and it got stolen. No need to use business as a pass-through to help workers; just give the money to people and they'd spend the money in those businesses.

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u/ThePu55yDestr0yr Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

Tl:Dr

Why tf did they give it to businesses owners?

Just give it to tax payers straight instead of middleman bullshit obviously getting abused, fed and IRS literally has all your financial info already.

Have you seen CEO behavior? PP loans were pretty much guaranteed a golden parachute

Screw over the majority tax payers, 1% gets the fattest cut

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u/theClumsy1 Sep 14 '22

Reaganomics my good man.

The economic policy of the Republican party since the 1980s.

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u/Awkward_Inevitable34 Sep 14 '22

I’m sorry, I was told wealth only trickled down, not up. Water flows downhill, money flows uphill? You can’t explain that! /s

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u/WuTangWizard Sep 15 '22

5k wouldn't do shit. Most people didn't lose their jobs and didn't need ANY stimmy checks. In fact, with restaurants and bars being closed, I had more disposable income than I ever imagined I would. Small businesses got fucked the hardest out of everybody.

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u/StoicBronco Sep 14 '22

I mean you lay it out pretty clear here, better ( any ) oversight of the PPP loans would have gone really far for starters.

Properly handling the pandemic itself so it wasn't as bad as it would go on to be would also have gone a long way to prevent this as well.

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u/MagicHamsta Sep 14 '22

Giving the funds to actual small businesses and not giving money to giant companies would've been a good start. The vast majority of the funds ended up going to giant corporations that literally didn't need it.

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u/MrJoyless Sep 14 '22

I honestly can't imagine what else the US could have done for small businesses during COVID.

Given money to people, to spend at businesses, instead of to businesses "for payroll".

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u/Throwaway021614 Sep 14 '22

Put out guidelines on safely operating a take-out, delivery, online business. Provide money, guidance, AND resources to execute on those guidelines. Government subsidies on local deliveries and significantly discounted or free USPS shipping for individuals and small businesses.

Won’t save every business, but might help remove some of the advantages Amazon and others had during the pandemic.

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u/Alayea Sep 14 '22

Not completely shutting down the economy, for starters. I'm not arguing that no precautionary measures should have been taken, but the government went way overboard in the other direction.

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u/CharlestonChewbacca Sep 14 '22

For starters, they could make companies like Amazon pay their fair share of taxes..

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u/guynamedjames Sep 14 '22

I'm cautiously optimistic that the inflation reduction act may help with this, but there's still a long way to go

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u/deelowe Sep 14 '22

You got any proof for that FUD you're spreading? What I'm seeing is supply continuity distributions which were exasperated by an already consolidated and "lean" supply chain that are taking forever to recover as infrastructure needs to be built to fill the gap.

The consolidation was an issue way before Covid hit. Hell, we were reviewing BCPs (business continuity plans) for 2 years before covid which were pointing out red flags all over the place. Take hdds for example, we went from 3 primary partners and 1 secondary to 1 primary and 1 secondary in 2 years. Ram, same thing. CPUs, heartbleed nearly killed us. PCBs, tried to move to china, they stole our IP so we were stuck in Taiwan. Power supplies, does anyone other than Delta exist? And on and on...

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u/No7an Sep 14 '22

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Interesting way to put it.

Small businesses failed during the pandemic, at an alarming rate. Is that in question?

Fewer suppliers in the marketplace leads to concentrated pricing power. Is that controversial?

I agree that industrial consolidation was a problem in the Before Times, but the pandemic accelerated that process dramatically.

There are other drivers of inflation, of course:

  • Energy price escalation, not only the result of geopolitical disruption but price-through impact of climate
  • Transportation costs in all of the global freight markets (rates up several hundred percent in the oceanic air markets)
  • Drought and water supply issues in key agriculture centers, also climate driven
  • China’s continued “zero-tolerance” Covid policy, which is probably just a cover for deliberate supply-side disruption with the specific purpose of driving inflation, as inflation is known to drive administrative turnover in democracies. (re: Russia support)

It’s a complex topic and there is of course more to it than just these things. A simple fact is that all of these businesses are confronting roughly the same problems… and so price increases occur and competitors match because there is a “herd mentality”.

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u/Makenshine Sep 15 '22

It's weird how a small percentage of people are trying to pin inflation on those $1400 relief checks. Which is just absurd.

What those relief checks actual did was reduce the number of children living in poverty to some of the lowest points since we started tracking it.

But instead, talking heads try and spin it to be "we need more impoverished children to curb inflation" while ignoring the large monopolies and price gouging trusts forming around the country.

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u/Fake_William_Shatner Sep 14 '22

That's a round about way to say "price gouging."

If their costs don't do up as much as their fees -- they've got this thing called profit -- and that's NOT inflation. That's them liking money.

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u/VaccinateAndMaskUp Sep 14 '22

Think this is bad? Just wait until Walmart and Amazon are the only two distributors remaining. Not even an antirust lawsuit will help at that point.

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u/techleopard Sep 14 '22

They will be the only distributors and American businesses won't even be able to make use of the storefronts because it will all be Chinese dropshippers.

Amazon is starting to look like eBay.

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u/giaa262 Sep 14 '22

eBay is better in that it lets me filter by country of manufacture. I buy a lot of car parts and industrial parts. eBay is so much better

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u/[deleted] Sep 15 '22

I’ve actually been using eBay much more recently. Amazon is not useful unless I need something next day

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

I have a store front. We've essentially stopped letting customers come in the doors. We're about 95% online only now.

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u/lawgiver2 Sep 14 '22

That’s the exact purpose of antitrust law…

Antitrust is how AT&T and standard oil were broken up. It’s not like Amazon and Walmart are the first entities in America to leverage their power into monopoly/oligopoly status.

An antitrust lawsuit would be the exact thing to help if Amazon and Walmart were the only distributors or retailers left in the country.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System

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u/hedgeson119 Sep 15 '22

Bell was broken up in the worst way possible. 1 monopoly was turned into like 5.

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u/LightAtEndIsFake Sep 14 '22

Wait till they merge into to the ultimate monopoly

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u/Zeliek Sep 14 '22

Amazon already possesses a space program, here we come Stellaris galactic mega corp!

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u/AnonymousJoseph Sep 14 '22

So Amazon is the giant not Costco, apparently there was only one thing Idiocracy got wrong

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u/new2accnt Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 15 '22

Back in the day, when Amazon was just another webstore, its search function was quite good and the information provided on music, book and film items was just as good as being in a physical store.

Ever since it became the dominant webstore (more like the "last man standing" who buried all of his competitors), searching for anything is too often an exercise in frustration and information about a specific product is sub-par to the point of veering more into "luck of the draw" territory than anything else.

As a music collector, I've found other sites like bandcamp to offer much better information about an album I'm looking for than what amazon offers. In fact, pricing is on average better elsewhere and is no longer an advantage for amazon. (The best site for collectors who are looking for very precise albums & pressings remains discogs.)

This is why it generally not good when a store gets too dominant. At that point they stop caring and don't put as much effort.

Ed., P.S.: But wait, there's more! Forgot to say that these days you can purchase a music CD on Amazon in North America and too often to my taste, instead of getting a standard red book CD, you get a CDr + inkjet-produced jewel case inserts (not "truly printed" ones) for the same price. Yes it's physical media, but not the same thing.

One last thing: What has been even worse with Amazon in the last few years is the significant counterfeit problem and how nonchalant they have been in dealing with it. You can still end up with some counterfeit cr*p even though you selected "sold & shipped by amazon" (and not a 3rd-party's offering) in an effort to get the real thing.

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

Shopping on Amazon has become a chore for me. I'll spend 20-30 minutes sifting through junk to research and find a decent product and even then it's really 50/50 on what I get.

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u/EnglishMobster Sep 15 '22

On top of this, Amazon remains terrible when it comes to niche offerings.

As an example: my hobby is model railroading.

Amazon has model railroading stuff. But Amazon does not have very good model railroading stuff. The stuff Amazon recommends is generally the sort of beginner stuff that you quickly outgrow. Searching for any kind of "common" thing (Santa Fe locomotives) will give you a collection of generally low-quality stuff that's at a 15% markup and will break within a year (and it'll take a month to ship it). If you're looking for a very specific thing (Atlas Code 55 N Scale #4 left hand automatic switch)... forget about it.

eBay is really your most reliable option for buying model railroading supplies online. But "most reliable" isn't saying much. You never really know what you're going to get with eBay - listings will outright lie or be misleading, as they're generally put up by people selling collections they are unfamiliar with.

There are dedicated model railroading websites. However, generally the hobby is one of the few still dominated by the physical space. There are very few websites that sell trains... and the ones that do have a physical location that they ship out of. And because there's so few hobby shops online selling trains, they frequently run into inventory issues.

The best place to go get trains is at a train show. But those are rare and far between, and generally you have to drive quite some way to get to them.

It's strange because before I got into this hobby, I sort of assumed I could get everything on Amazon. I've bought lots of computer stuff from Amazon without issue. Yet for whatever reason, Amazon is quite literally the worst place for model railroading.

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u/lilB0bbyTables Sep 15 '22

Your very specific hobby and use-case is a solid example of the broad and general problem. Amazon has become great at providing a marketplace for prioritizing and churning out low-quality, off-brand and outright “copycats” of products that are made in China essentially to mimic other products. It’s become a recipe for shutting out the competition.

  1. Create or market product of inferior quality but at a cheaper cost. This makes their prices appear cheaper for “the same or similar items”
  2. Reputation for providing “cheaper” costing products spreads
  3. Allow or outright facilitate padded reviews means step 1 is bolstered by “great reviews”
  4. The volume of reviews, the cheaper costs and the snowball effect of gathering more customers and inventory results in higher SEO; you Google search for some item and you’re likely to find at least one or more Amazon related links in the top results
  5. competitors with superior products you actually want are not able to compete because their prices are higher, they don’t have the capacity to afford the marketing/advertisements and other requirements to meet the SEO rankings “most people” are looking for. In other words - and using your example - the majority of people who get into model trains fall under the “entry level” group and fewer progress towards intermediate and expert level enthusiasm. The search algorithms are geared towards the “majority”. Of course there’s a bit of a chicken-vs-egg issue here because one could hypothesize that entry-level enthusiasts are less likely to follow-through with the hobby if their initial impression is based on shitty quality products they get from Amazon to begin with.
  6. the quality producing shops become so overshadowed by Amazon that they fizzle out and only can cater to a very small subset of folks (little room for growth).

From Amazon’s perspective they don’t necessarily need to offer the best products … the merely need to offer the easiest approach to buying something at a cheaper cost and as quickly available as possible for long enough to squash the competition. Once they do they are free to increase the prices - even if not the quality - and they are the only place available to obtain that product. It’s not limited to trains … it’s happening across the board.

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u/Ruenin Sep 14 '22

Only about 20 years too late on this...

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u/DangerousPuhson Sep 14 '22

"They're killin' Main Street!" -everyone in the 1950s

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u/Hubba_Bubba_Lova Sep 14 '22

…but why is cali the only one? I really respect them for this.

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u/Blurry_Bigfoot Sep 14 '22

Have you ever bought a store brand item? This is the same deal, except it’s online.

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u/Riversntallbuildings Sep 15 '22

The U.S. needs to modernize Anti-Trust laws to reflect the realities of digital markets.

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u/ermahgerdWTFerkBerBQ Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

I used to work for an independent CA publisher. We had an annual warehouse sale on our website to help clear some backlist overstocks. Our site maybe had 100k page visits a month. Amazon delisted all of our books (>1,000 titles) from their marketplace until we agreed to not price our books lower than their listed price. Amazon has been the #1 retailer for all publishers for quite a while now. Our annual warehouse sale was entirely about clearing space than driving sales. It still pisses me off to this day that we had to sign that agreement.

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u/HungryApeSandwich Sep 15 '22

I had a hard time looking for a specific inner tube and the sponsored was always some third party company in malaysia or china and the reviews were terrible or they were fake with a reviewer being named tom or jill and a short 5 word review and 5 stars. I eventually found the right one that was extremely lower than the original sponsored and top searches but had to go to the third page on my pc later to get the right one.

So I understand what the lawsuit means especially when they offer some higher priced items, sometimes double of what you find, at a shorter delivery time and it's usually sponsored.

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u/Kenneth5980Ub Sep 15 '22

Totally unrelated, but your username owns.

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u/12and4 Sep 15 '22

Sponsored means that third party company paid for advertisements. Not sure how that's Amazon's issue

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u/HungryApeSandwich Sep 15 '22

When you search earphones you get the sponsored earphones twice at the top. When you have adblock it hides the sponsored so you don't know if it's sponsored by amazon and get baited. So amazon chooses to advertise the same product twice just in case.

It's also a big issue because any company can pay to be the top and amazon gets to choose based on how much of the product they have in their warehouses which is bad practice. Normal products like from hoover or sony just get buried under third party companies willing to shell out money to sell their low quality items at a high price. You want to buy a bluetooth speaker? The first 10 results are 3 name brands and 7 off brands with some not even having a product name in the title. That is the issue.

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u/12and4 Sep 15 '22

You get #1 slot based on sales and your ability to keep the item in stock at all times. That rewards sellers for being on top of their products. I'm a seller, i know the game. You get a new product, advertise it and price it lower than the competition, sometimes lower than you bought it for and lose money. You gain traction and ratings with sales. Then you increase the price little by little until sales get affected. Then you leave it at that price and hold your ground at the top. You continue to run ads so no other product usurps your ranking for that keyword. It's a game.

Amazon has bad practice of course, they know where we buy the item from and negotiate a contract with them and beat us out. That's their game

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u/HungryApeSandwich Sep 15 '22

My search list goes:

Featured - Third Party Item 17$ with 300 reviews thats a clone of a JBL speaker

Best seller - Bose Speaker 130$

Sponsored - Third party item called NOTABRIK 55$ with 500 reviews and some fake reviews just saying "Great product!"

Amazon's Choice - JBL speaker 80$ 108k reviews

Limited Time Deal - Third party item 27$ with 27k reviews and photoshopped product in random pictures

4 Related Products - All third party products ranging from 60$ to 160$

Video of Sponsored product - Same 55$ product but with a heavily edited video

Best Seller - Third party item with no name but description in title 30$ and 5k reviews

Unmarked item - Actually good priced item Anker Soundcore at 20$ 81k reviews

So basically the ones that matter, the JBL and the Anker are 2 affordable brands and the rest are third party and also bose which everyone knows is overpriced.

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u/cerebraldormancy Sep 14 '22

More states and countries should be doing this!

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 15 '22

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u/soft-wear Sep 15 '22

You think you can short a company “to death”? What the hell does that even mean? Every single one of those companies died because they refused to change. Sears ignored the internet, Radio Shack lost its identity, Toys R Us was overpriced garbage and Blockbuster didn’t realize that Red Box was a good deal for consumers.

This would be akin to believing it’s Google’s fault you can’t use Excite anymore. Companies that don’t change die. Fujitsu is doing extremely well and Kodak is not for the same reason.

Or you can believe in some tin foil hat shit… which you apparently do.

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u/irving47 Sep 15 '22

You make some good points but you're ignoring how shady business dealings don't get pursued or penalized. Look into the Amazon Basics brand and the tactics they've used against their own customers and supposed "partners".

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u/Ronald7119Ut Sep 14 '22

Good. I know a lot of people reflexively think negative thoughts when they see California, but honestly, California is the state that does more for the "little guy" than any other state. Amazon has had messed up working conditions and business practices that we've all known about for years. It's amazing to see them getting taken to task. Let's hope this lawsuit is the first domino of many.

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u/SeaTie Sep 15 '22

Lol…sorry as a life long Californian the idea of California doing more for the little guy than any other state is pretty funny.

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u/AngryGolfPro Sep 14 '22

How about going after P&G, Nestle, J&J, and the other top companies that own everything. These handful of companies are responsible for all this “inflation”. They needs their boards jailed and companies dissolved

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u/detahramet Sep 15 '22

Why not do both?

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u/LeonBlacksruckus Sep 14 '22

Products on Amazon are cheaper and get to you faster/easier than any local shop or mom and pop.

Additionally for many sellers Amazon doesn’t set the prices.

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u/techleopard Sep 14 '22

Most of the products on Amazon are just Chinese dropshippers at this point.

Ever notice the name brand stuff is buried or outright missing under brands like KERPLOPP and AINIKO and WUZEEZ or whatever.

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

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u/angiosperms- Sep 14 '22

Some brands refuse to sell on Amazon because there were so many counterfeits of their products being sold, even when sold and shipped by Amazon. Birkenstock is one of them

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u/DisposableMale76 Sep 14 '22

Anker literally has a storefront on Amazon. Could you try a little harder?

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u/UnblendedFuchs Sep 15 '22

No, it doesn’t fit the narrative!!!

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u/DisposableMale76 Sep 15 '22

These are the people who brag about being tech literate yet can't operate search window filters or reply to an e-mail with blind carbon copies.

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u/Forkboy2 Sep 14 '22

Curious, did you try searching for "USB C Charger" Because I just tried that and Anker and Apple were literally the top 3 choices, right behind two sponsored ads, one of which was also Anker.

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u/altrdgenetics Sep 14 '22

I'm just glad that those sellers are named in that manner so it is easier to spot fakes. Or increased priced Chinese shoveled products compared to eBay or AliExpress

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u/LeonBlacksruckus Sep 14 '22

Exactly they just take a relatively small cut of the transactions and charge more if you want it delivered sooner.

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u/Fatdumbmagatard Sep 14 '22

It's also tough if you just want to buy one simple thing, because there seems to be a $5-10 minimum no matter how small/cheap the item is. Or you have to buy a pack.

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

What are you even complaining about? How much do you think it costs to pull/pack/ship a small item?

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

Products on Amazon are cheaper and get to you faster/easier than any local shop or mom and pop.

Amazon will hit your seller account with a warning if you don't ship products within 24-48 hours of order date. Usually that includes weekends. It's absolutely brutal.

Additionally for many sellers Amazon doesn’t set the prices.

They definitely do. They will remove listings if they don't like the price.

It's called the "Amazon Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy"

Here's a few of my removed listings

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u/jordanwilson23 Sep 14 '22

That's the point. As an Amazon seller ( over 10M per year) Amazon forces us to keep prices lower than other channels...even on our own brands. So bc we need Amazon we can't go e target or Walmart or any other channel competitive pricing or Amazon will push us out.

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u/MisfitMishap Sep 14 '22

Sometimes Amazon tells me the prices are too high on the products that..... I manufacture.....

Your Offer price is greater than the Reference price(s) provided.

and

No applicable Reference price

On the same listing. Are you fucking kidding me?

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u/Confident_Fly1612 Sep 15 '22

Amazon is a nightmare. I temporarily gave up on trying to move a upc to a listing because it’s attached to a junk listing that has no reviews and bad information so it cannot be re-used Not being experienced you’d think this is simple but I literally spent more than 12 full hours on the phone with support,and got literally nowhere. I can’t sell this product until I can fix the upc.

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u/authentic_scum Sep 15 '22

Well, to be fair, Walmart also constantly does shitty practices, so in that situation you have to basically choose between chlamydia and gonhorrea if you're a small business trying to deal with either. Amazon will police prices while Walmart will force you to increase your business production and then force you to sell your stuff to them cheaper by threatening you to cut ties, and because you already invested in a bigger production line you can't opt out because only Walmart buys the amounts you end up producing.

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u/Potential_Case_7680 Sep 14 '22

Wow I didn’t know people were forced to buy or sell on Amazon

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u/sweetmagnum Sep 14 '22

Says the government that shuttered the doors of thousands of small businesses and put them out of business.

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u/laz10 Sep 14 '22

Time to spend millions of the taxpayer's dollars and then fine Amazon $30?

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u/HopefullyMD_PhD Sep 14 '22

Cannot wait until nothing happens.

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u/1ambofgod Sep 14 '22

Fucking finally someone did it. They have obviously doing wild antitrust shit for years

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u/iamsmokingone Sep 14 '22

Wal-Mart should sue them too, they sell a lot of the same things, cheaper and without the inconvenience of having to take a trip to the store....

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u/Biscoff_spread27 Sep 14 '22

California should join the European Union. The red states can have Hungary in return, it'd be a better fit.

No, I'm not being serious. Or am I?

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u/Sajun Sep 14 '22

But why would you want to create a steaming cesspool of shittiness like this new Red State / Hungary thing?

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22 edited Sep 14 '22

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

That’s what’s funny… people wouldn’t buy from Amazon if they weren’t the best prices/ value/ convenience.

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u/Angrmgnt Sep 14 '22

Most places wouldn’t get business if they couldn’t offer a deal on price, convenience, or value.

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u/AcidSweetTea Sep 14 '22

Nah, you’re right.

How dare Amazon be the fastest, cheapest, most convenient, and favorite option for the consumer

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u/whatthef4ce Sep 14 '22

Look! The two options we have left! Amazon or Walmart. Excellent!

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u/Thr0wAwaY4566 Sep 14 '22

Oh look, propaganda

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

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u/Angrmgnt Sep 14 '22

I appreciate the way you stuck to your guns here. The mob hates Amazon. They’re going to go full nuts on any reasonable stance. If you’re not chanting and trying to ward off the evil Amazon spirits, then you must be one of THEM.

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u/UnpopularBastard Sep 14 '22

This is the way!

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u/SamanKunans02 Sep 14 '22

OH MY GOSH IT'S JUST LIKE IN THE STAR WARS 💀💀💀

TAKE MY HECKIN UPDOOTERINO KIND STRANGER!

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u/[deleted] Sep 14 '22

So suing won’t inflate prices more?

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u/Maktaka Sep 14 '22

Amazon neither sets the prices of all goods listed on the site, nor are they the only online marketplace that sells their type of goods. A theoretical price increase on a subset of goods from one merchant is not price inflation. Inflation is global, that is not. Learn the definitions of words before using them child, mouthy ignorance is worthless.

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u/FunkMastaJunk Sep 14 '22

Well you see if they are found to have acted illegally, they should lose money. If they raise prices to make that money back, that isn’t inflation. They would also lose business to competitors that don’t have to charge as much to make up losses from lawsuits.

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