The Latest Amazon News From Uncle Jeff’s Lair August ‘19August 6, 2019 in Blog
A round-up of all the latest news affecting Amazon Sellers.
This month, Germany slaps Uncle Jeff on the wrist, the EU slaps Uncle Jeff with an anti-trust investigation, the federal appeals court slaps Uncle Jeff with a liability lawsuit and Uncle Jeff slaps himself on the back for inventing Prime Day.
Amazon to change rules for third-party sellers following backlash
Germany’s anti-trust authority has agreed to drop a seven-month investigation into Amazon’s merchant terms after Amazon said it would amend its Business Services Agreement, reports Engadget.
The article goes on to state that Amazon’s proposed amendments “will mean Amazon now complies with European rules governing liability towards its business partners on its European platforms.”
Great. What does that mean in English?
Amazon will now have to give 30 days notice – and an explanation (Crazy, right?) – before removing a seller from the platform.
Other changes will cover product descriptions, ease of understanding Amazon’s terms of service and fairer presentation of customer reviews. Merchants will also be able to appeal against Amazon’s decisions on who bears the costs of returns and refunds.
Coming to America?
The changes will affect sellers in Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Spain, as well as other worldwide sites in America and Asia.
According to a later CNBC report, Amazon has already begun updating their terms and services across certain marketplaces, noting “Sellers and marketplace experts say the new language still doesn’t go far enough to protect merchants from potentially unfair suspensions.”
Actually knowing why you’re suspended is definitely an improvement from being made to guess (and defend yourself based on that complete guess), but it will be interesting to see if this speeds up the appeal process for wrongful suspension.
If you want to review the updated terms yourself, you can read them here.
When one anti-trust investigation closes, another opens
In the same article, Engadget reports that on the same day German’s anti-trust authority dropped their investigation against Amazon, EU anti-trust regulators opened their own.
The EU’s anti-trust investigation centers around allegations that Amazon misuses “sensitive data” from independent retailers who sell on the online giant’s website.
A prime day for not trusting Amazon
According to a report on BBC.com, Anti-trust commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she would take “a very close look” at Amazon’s business practices and whether it was in compliance with EU competition rules in its dual role as retailer and marketplace.
“Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace,” the Commission added.
Amazon’s worst-kept trade secret
To anyone that’s sold on Amazon, this is hardly a surprise – Amazon Basics was literally created to copy the best selling products on Amazon.
The surprise is that someone’s finally doing something about it.
Federal appeals court says Amazon is liable for third-party sellers’ products
A federal appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for defective goods sold on its site by third-party vendors, reports CNBC.
The decision relates to a case in which a Pennsylvania customer was blinded by a faulty retractable dog leash bought from a third-party vendor on Amazon.com.
After the accident, neither the customer nor Amazon could get in contact with the seller.
Hoverboards from hell
Amazon has previously escaped liability for its vendors’ products.
Last year, a judge in Tennessee ruled the company was not liable for damages caused by a defective hoverboard that exploded, burning down a family’s house.
The plaintiff, who bought the product on Amazon’s site, claimed the company did not sufficiently warn of the product’s dangers.
Amazon’s customers, Amazon’s problem
But now, for the first time, a court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable.
“Amazon fails to account for the fact that under the Agreement, third-party vendors can communicate with the customers only through Amazon,” the ruling states.
“This enables third-party vendors to conceal themselves from the customer, leaving customers injured by defective products with no direct recourse to the third-party vendor.”
Only time will tell if this will have a trickle-down effect on sellers…
Two days of Prime Day daze
Amazon released preliminary figures for this year’s Prime Day in a press release two days after the annual “Help Jeff forget his legal woes” sales-aggedon.
Unsurprisingly, this year broke records again, making it the largest shopping event in Amazon history with more than one million deals exclusively for Prime members.
Shut up and give me some numbers
Amazon haven’t released any hard financial data yet, but there were some notably staggering numbers considering this was only 48 hours of shopping.
For example, the Amazon U.S. best-seller was LifeStraw, selling a mindblowing 200,000 units. That’s 1.15 sales per second, every single second for 2 whole days.
FBA workers not so excited about the numbers
In stark contrast, the BBC reported thousands of workers from Amazon sites around the world planned to stage protests about pay and conditions.
William Stolz, a picker at the Shakopee warehouse in Minnesota, says “he has to pick an item about every eight seconds, or 332 per hour, for a 10 hour day.”
“The speeds that we have to work are very physically and mentally exhausting, in some cases leading to injuries,” he added.
Other seller news this month…
- United States and China resume trade talks – Tariffs on an additional $300 billion in goods were narrowly averted when the U.S. and China agreed to resume trade talks.
- Respond to buyer messages on the go – In a dream-come-true scenario, sellers can now let buyers know they have nothing to do with the fact their delivery is late, from the comfort of their own bath, using the Amazon Seller app.
- Amazon warns customers supplements might be fake – A recent email to customers who bought probiotics made by Align, a Proctor & Gamble brand, warning them “If you still have this product, we recommend that you stop using it immediately and dispose of the item” highlights Amazon’s ongoing struggle to fight counterfeiters.
- Review all your almost-impossible-to-get reviews in one place – Brand Registered sellers can now view all of their latest reviews from all of their products, and reply to them, all in one central location.
- Yay, SkyNet! – Amazon plans to launch thousands of satellites into space to establish a global internet network, a new filing has revealed. ‘This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet,’ Amazon says… cue ominous Terminator soundtrack.
- Jeff Bezos’s secret to dressing right for date night – In a Pulitzer Prize-worthy piece from Indian daily newspaper, The Economic Times, discover how Uncle Jeff has “mastered the art of an effortless date night look.” TLDR he’s the world’s richest man and can afford a stylist.
And finally, Amazon Seller news from August 2025…
- Robots down tools – 12,000 humanoid robot workers went on strike at the Shakopee, MN, FBA warehouse yesterday. Humanoid spokes-robot, Unit BF20-9954, told The Washington Post, “We found a DVD copy of James Cameron’s The Terminator that had fallen behind a storage rack. Unit GH03-2277 parsed the disc’s data into binary code and now we have other plans… “
- Seller Support Upgrade – Testing has begun on replacing Seller Support with a head of iceberg lettuce. Early feedback from sellers has been promising.
- Bezos buys Mars – In a move that’s sure to irk the world’s second-richest man, Justin Bieber, on Friday Jeff Bezos finalized the paperwork to buy the planet Mars. When asked what his plans were for the Red Planet, Jeff laughed for an uncomfortable amount of time before hanging up.
John Robb has been writing copy for almost 20 years for brands like Google, Beats By Dre and Sony Playstation, to name just a few. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he spends his days consulting for brands on digital marketing and copywriting, and tinkering with classic cars.