Amazon wants to enlist third-party sellers in its fight against an antitrust bill — but many of the sellers support the legislation and have accused the company of spreading “propaganda” and treating them like “morons.”
In a post on Amazon’s forum for third-party merchants who sell goods through the site, Amazon vice president of selling partner services Dharmesh Mehta urged sellers to write to their senators to oppose a bipartisan antirust bill called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would stop sites including Amazon and Google from giving their own products a leg up in search results.
For example, when a customer searches “black T-shirt” on Amazon’s site, the company would be barred from giving Amazon-brand T-shirts priority over shirts sold by third-party sellers.
Mehta claimed that the third-party sellers needed to help kill the bill because it “could jeopardize Amazon’s ability to operate a marketplace service and, as a result, your business’s ability to sell in our store.”
But most sellers on the forum responded that they support the bill — and blasted Mehta for trying to rally the giants it.
“Any informed seller is going to support massive action taken against Amazon in the anti-trust arena,” wrote one seller in a comment that received more than 100 likes. “We are not morons and know how to read and think for ourselves.”
“Thanks for the reminder!” another said. “I’ve asked my senators to support the bill.”
“If amazon is against it the Bill must be good!” a third seller said.
“I’m highly allergic to corporate propaganda and fear mongering,” a fourth said. “Therefore, for the sake of my health, I will be encouraging my senators to fully support this legislation.”
“Yes, I’m going to oppose that Amazon will be prohibited from undercutting, manipulating the buybox, and instituting restrictions on certain listings that unfairly bar me from selling an item,” another seller sarcastically wrote. “Yup, writing to my Senator right now.”
Amazon did not respond for a request for comment on the thread, which was first reported by CNBC.
While the majority of sellers said they backed the antitrust bill, a few spoke up in support of Mehta and Amazon.
“I can tell you that this bill is bad news for Amazon, bad news for Amazon customers, and if you think that doesn’t mean bad news for Sellers, then you must not be a third-party Seller,” one seller wrote in a comment that garnered 19 likes.
Amazon and other Big Tech companies have lobbied heavily against the Klobuchar-Grassley bill, which advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January. Congressional sources say the bill could come up for House and Senate sources over the summer.
Their tactics have included tens of millions of dollars in television ad campaigns and sponsored content in publications like the Graham family’s Foreign Policy magazine.