December 8, 2022

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rejected Amazon’s request to rescind subpoenas filed with executives such as founder Jeff Bezos.
  • The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the Amazon Prime registration and cancellation process.
  • It says Amazon failed “adequately” to identify the subpoenas “representing undue burdens”.

The Federal Trade Commission ruled against Amazon’s request to rescind or limit subpoenas filed with top Amazon executives including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Gacy over the agency’s investigation into the Prime subscription process.

An FTC investigation centered on Amazon’s alleged misleading tactics around the registration and cancellation process for Prime and other subscription services. in previous depositAmazon has revealed that some of its top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Gacy, have been recalled as part of the investigation. At the time, Amazon argued that the FTC should dismiss this because of the “impractical and unfair” actions that it called “impossible demands.”

in New legal deposit Wednesday eveningThe Federal Trade Commission wrote that Amazon must “fully comply” with the commission’s original subpoena, officially called a Civil Inquiry Order (CID), no later than October 7. It also states that all individual petitioners who have received CIDs must “comply and provide specific certification” on or before January 20, 2023.

“We do not accept that Amazon has sufficiently demonstrated as a public matter that CIDs issued to the company or to individual witnesses are undue burdens in terms of scope or timing and we refuse to limit CIDs on these grounds,” the FTC wrote in the Wednesday submission.

In an email to Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said the company still believes the recent orders are “unnecessarily stressful” and that it will continue to look at 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 retracted its broadest request and will allow witnesses to choose their attorney,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “Amazon 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 employees, but we remain concerned that the recent requests are too broad and unnecessarily onerous, and we will explore all of our options.”

The FTC also asked commission staff to suggest two dates for each witness to testify, within two business days from Wednesday. Each petition will be determined from among these options within four working days of this request. The memo said all hearings related to the criminal investigation investigation will take place in Washington, D.C. or Seattle.

The filing widely cites an Insider story from March that first reported on Amazon’s internal deliberations about the subscription and cancellation process for Prime. The report showed how for years Amazon deliberately deceived people into signing up for Prime subscriptions, even after employees raised concerns about growing customer complaints.

In a separate filing on Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission said it was concerned about the potential for Amazon’s “prolongation of discovery” of material related to the investigation. One of the issues that came up previously was that some Amazon employees were allowed to use the same law firm that represents Amazon.

“We believe it may be necessary to consider revisions to the FTC’s Code of Practice with respect to Part II investigations to address the potential for maneuvering and delay tactics that could impede critical investigations,” the FTC wrote.

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