Taxes & Law

Marketplace: Amazon may not block accounts just like that

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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Imagine Amazon blocks your account from one day to the next. If the marketplace is your main source of income, you could suddenly be faced with existential questions: What alternatives do I have to the online giant? What happens now? Do I have to close my business?

Amazon has been taking action against retailers who manipulate reviews and establish fake reviews as a business model for years. But can the company block accounts for this reason? It's not that simple, as the Frankfurt Regional Court recently confirmed.

What had happened?

Two Amazon merchants were surprised by an account suspension at the beginning of December 2021. Amazon informed them by email that their listings had been removed from the website. According to Amazon, they had manipulated customer reviews. The company had to act in the interests of customers, avoid negative experiences and prevent sellers from violating Amazon guidelines. The people affected did not want to take this lying down. They found that the allegations were neither justified nor verifiable. They demanded that Amazon release the accounts - without success and eventually took the matter to court.

Amazon is not allowed to do everything

The Frankfurt Regional Court ruled in favor of the two online retailers and issued a temporary injunction in both cases on 14.12.2021: Amazon must unblock the accounts immediately. It is known that the court argued that Amazon had abused its dominant market position. The Munich Regional Court and the Hanover Regional Court had already ruled in the same way last year - on the same grounds.

Amazon responded by unblocking the accounts and releasing the credit (185,000 euros and 66,000 euros). A company spokesperson told LTOThe dealers had tried to manipulate fake reviews via intermediaries. They had been warned about this and had already admitted to violating the guidelines. Amazon has announced that it will take legal action against the decisions, which can still be appealed. The company will continue its fight against the anti-consumer business of the intermediaries of fake reviews.

The lawyer for the two online retailers on the other hand, is pleased with the decision: Amazon's tactic of taking the position that German courts have no jurisdiction to rule on account freezes, against the backdrop of Luxembourg's chosen location for tax and litigation tactics, no longer works. Every day, retailers lose thousands of euros in sales without being able to justify their actions to Amazon. The lawyer now hopes that the court will also award the plaintiffs damages for lost profits. However, problems could arise here in measuring the damage and enforcing the claims.