Amazon Says The Two Merchants Suing Them Sold Counterfeit Goods, Tried To Get Others To Raise Prices And Said Mean Things To Amazon

Written by Evan Schuman
May 15th, 2013

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has formally responded to a lawsuit from two of its onetime sellers—in which the sellers said Amazon held their money for more than 90 days, in violation of state law—by essentially saying, “We won’t see you in court, buddy.” Amazon’s position is that a mandatory check-off box on its site means that sellers are not allowed to sue, having agreed to settle all disputes via arbitration.

Amazon’s position is very direct: that by agreeing to be a seller, the merchant has to abide by the terms of the agreement, which includes arbitration. The sellers’ legal position is focused on how long Amazon held the money and that it violates state law, which sets 10 days as the limit. By violating Washington state law, the action goes beyond the contract (and its arbitration clause) and needs to be settled by a government court, in open proceedings. Amazon’s contract sets a maximum time of 90 days and the lawsuit contends that it didn’t even meet that deadline.

Interesting enough, the detailed Amazon response somehow didn’t address the state legal claim, which was the essence of the lawsuit. But while ignoring the state legal issue, the Amazon response did go into plenty of details about why the world’s largest e-commerce site opted to terminate the sales agreement of these two sellers—and why it chose to hold their funds for so long. The reason for holding the funds was because of the poor conduct of the sellers, Amazon argued.

“Amazon withheld payments to each Plaintiff to cover potential chargebacks, refunds or returns to dissatisfied consumers,” Amazon’s motion said. “Amazon’s actions were entirely consistent with the agreements both Plaintiffs accepted and consistent with Amazon’s overarching commitment to customer satisfaction (such as Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee) reflected in those agreements. But Plaintiffs sued nonetheless.”

The legal debate is jurisdictional. Amazon can argue that its contract gave it the right to hold the funds indefinitely when bad conduct is alleged, but when that action conflicts with state law, federal judges often have to get involved. Amazon would rather they not.

One thing that is clear is that these allegations—excessive holding of monies owed to sellers—are not isolated.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.