September 24, 2022

  • The FTC has rejected Amazon’s request to quash subpoenas against executives like founder Jeff Bezos.
  • The FTC is investigating Amazon Prime’s sign-up and cancellation process.
  • It says Amazon failed to “sufficiently” establish that the subpoenas “constitute an undue burden.”

The Federal Trade Commission has ruled against Amazon’s request to quash or limit subpoenas served on top Amazon executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, ​​over the agency’s investigation into the Prime application process.

The FTC’s investigation centers on Amazon’s alleged flawed tactics around the sign-up and cancellation processes for Prime and other subscription services. U prior submissionAmazon has revealed that some of its top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, ​​have been subpoenaed as part of the investigation. At the time, Amazon argued that the FTC should reject it because of “unworkable and unfair” procedures that it described as “impossible to satisfy requests.”

U new legal filing on wednesday nightThe FTC wrote that Amazon should “fully comply” with the commission’s original subpoena, formally called a Civil Investigative Demand (CID), no later than Oct. 7. It also states that all individual petitioners who have received CIDs should “proceed and submit said testimony” on or before January 20, 2023.

“We do not accept that Amazon has sufficiently established as a general matter that the CIDs issued to the company or individual witnesses would be an undue burden in terms of scope or timing, and we decline to limit the CIDs on these grounds,” the FTC wrote in a filing Wednesday.

In an email to Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said the company still believes the latest requirements are “unnecessarily burdensome” and will continue to look for other options.

“We are disappointed but not surprised that the FTC has largely declined to rule against itself, but we are pleased that the agency has waived its broadest requirements and allowed witnesses to choose their own counsel,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement. “Amazon has cooperated with the FTC during the investigation and has already produced tens of thousands of pages of documents. We are committed to engaging constructively with FTC staff, but we remain concerned that the latest requests are overly broad and unnecessarily burdensome, and we will explore all of our options. “

The FTC also told Commission staff to propose two dates for each witness to testify, within two business days of Wednesday’s order. Each petitioner will choose one of those options within four business days of this order. All investigative hearings related to the CIDs will be held in Washington DC or Seattle, according to the filing.

The filing largely cites an Insider story from March that first reported Amazon’s internal deliberations over the Prime sign-up and cancellation process. The report showed how Amazon knowingly misled people to sign up for Prime for years, even after employees raised concerns about growing customer complaints.

In a separate filing Wednesday, the FTC said it was concerned that Amazon would potentially “extend the disclosure” of materials related to its investigation. One issue that came up earlier was whether to allow certain Amazon employees to use the same law firm that represents Amazon.

“We believe it may be necessary to consider revisions to the Commission’s Rules of Practice for Part II Investigations to address the potential for gamesmanship and delay tactics that may interfere with critical investigations,” the FTC wrote.

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