Amazon Defeats Consumers' Claims Over 'Buy Box'

Siding with Amazon, a federal judge has dismissed a complaint alleging that the company bilks consumers with its "Buy Box" -- which offers people the ability to immediately purchase items.

The ruling, issued Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle, stems from a class-action complaint brought in February by Jeffrey Taylor and Robert Selway. They alleged that the algorithms Amazon uses to determine which items to place in the Buy Box are biased in favor of products Amazon sells as a retailer, and products sold by third parties that use Amazon's shipping services -- even when other sellers on Amazon offer the same products at lower prices.

“Consumers reasonably believe that the Buy Box price is the best price available in the marketplace for a given item. But they are often wrong,” the pair alleged.

They claimed that Amazon's methods for placing merchandise in the Buy Box violated a Washington state consumer protection law.



Pechman essentially said in her ruling that even if the allegations were proven true, they wouldn't be detailed enough to prove that Amazon ran afoul of the state law.

“Plaintiffs have not adequately shown that they made any specific transaction with Amazon, let alone one from the Buy Box,” she wrote. “Plaintiffs provide no information regarding specific orders (i.e., receipts), nor make allegations regarding discrete transactions with Amazon. And without a showing of a specific transaction, Plaintiffs cannot possibly allege that they themselves were overcharged for any particular purchase.”

She noted that Taylor and Selway argued they were entitled to a “reasonable inference” that they had overpaid for Amazon purchases, but said Washington state law requires specific allegations.

The decision allows Taylor and Robert Selway to reformulate their allegations and bring them again.

Taylor and Selway aren't the only ones to sue Amazon over its Buy Box.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes brought a similar complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court against the company in May.

Next story loading loading..