Amazon VP tries to convince sellers to oppose antitrust bill

Amazon has appealed to its third-party sellers to oppose a Senate antitrust reform bill aimed at helping their businesses. In a Publish on Amazon’s internal forum for third-party merchants, the company’s vice president of global selling partner services, Dharmesh Mehta, urged sellers to object The US Innovation and Online Choice Act (S.2992), and asked them to contact their senators.

“As we have noted in previous communications with you throughout the past year, Congress is considering legislation, including S. 2992, the U.S. Online Innovation and Choice Act, that could compromise Amazon’s ability to operate a marketplace service and, therefore, your company’s ability to sell in our store,” Mehta wrote.

Just under 500 sellers have responded to Mehta’s message since Thursday, many of whom are unconvinced by Amazon’s claim that the Senate bill will hurt their businesses. “The bill jeopardizes the way Amazon wants to operate. This would not jeopardize the markets. Amazon get your house in order before asking us as sellers to defend you,” one seller wrote.

“Personally, I’m fed up with Amazon management’s condescending messages to us. We are not morons and can read and think for ourselves,” another seller wrote.

Mehta’s attempt to recruit third-party Amazon sellers into unpaid lobbyists follows a broader push by the company against the US Online Innovation and Choice Act. Last week, an audience Publish by Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman warned of a potential downgrading of Prime membership benefits for customers if the bill passes; Similar to Mehta, Huseman also suggested that anti-trust action could “make it difficult to justify the risk that Amazon offers a marketplace that selling partners can participate in.”

The Senate bill contains provisions aimed at preventing tech giants like Amazon and Google from giving preferential treatment to their own services, putting other companies at a disadvantage. Over the years, Amazon has been accused of using a number of tactics to disadvantage third-party merchants, including using third-party product sales data develop its own competing products and prioritize products that use Prime shipping in search results.

Big Tech-funded trade groups have spent millions on ads that portray the bill as an “innovation killer” and harmful to small businesses, reported the Washington Post. The ads are being aired primarily in states represented by vulnerable Senate Democrats, in an effort to increase pressure from their own constituents. The Senate is expected to vote on S.2992 this summer. The House Judiciary Committee past a similar bill last year, but it has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote.