Amazon Exec Tried Lobbying Third-Party Sellers For Support Against Big Tech Bill

An Amazon vice president took to a popular forum used by third-party merchants to encourage them to reject landmark legislation targeting the power of US tech giants.

But the effort appeared to backfire, as many sellers disputed Amazon’s argument and said they intend to support the legislation, which seeks to overhaul US antitrust laws and reel in the power of Big Tech.

Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide selling partner services, published the post on Thursday in Amazon’s Seller Central Forum. He encouraged merchants to contact their local senator to oppose the legislation, called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992), which was passed by a Senate committee in January and could move forward this summer.

“As we have noted in previous communications to you throughout the past year, Congress is considering legislation, including S.2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, that could jeopardize Amazon’s ability to operate a marketplace service and, as a result, your business’s ability to sell in our store,” Mehta wrote. “Recent public comments from Senate leadership indicate that they intend to vote on S.2992 later this month. I want to ensure that you are aware of this legislation and what you can do to try and stop it from harming you.”

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Mehta then directed Amazon sellers to a website that includes a form they can use to contact their senator. The page is populated with a prewritten email opposing the legislation, and says filling out the form “will take less than two minutes of your time.”

Hundreds of sellers replied to Mehta’s post, including many who seemed unconvinced by Amazon’s point of view and promised to support the legislation. Third-party sellers, who account for more than half of Amazon’s retail volume, have in recent years expressed frustration over the costs they pay to stay in good standing, the amount Amazon charges them for ads and Amazon’s inability to rid the marketplace of scams and bad actors.

“Yes, I’m going to oppose the idea that Amazon will be prohibited from undercutting, manipulating the buybox, and instituting restrictions on certain listings that unfairly bar me from selling an item,” one commenter wrote. “Yup, writing to my senator right now.”

Another wrote that, “Any informed seller is going to support massive action taken against Amazon in the antitrust arena. I am personally sick of the condescending posts by Amazon management directed at us. We are not morons and know how to read and think for ourselves.”

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