France files supplier contract complaint against Amazon

The French government has filed a complaint against ecommerce giant Amazon alleging abuse of a dominant position with some of its suppliers, according to Reuters citing a report in La Parisien newspaper.

The move apparently follows a two-year investigation by France’s consumer fraud watchdog, the DGCCRF.

The news agency says the Economy Ministry is seeking a fine of €10M (~$11.8M).

“The platform imposes unbalanced relations to its vendors,” DGCCRF official Loic Tanguy is quoted as telling Le Parisien.

We reached out to Amazon but a spokesman declined to comment, responding via email with this statement: “We do not comment on outstanding legal proceedings.”

At the time of writing the French Economy Minister could not be reached for comment.

According to Le Parisien’s report, the complaint focuses on Amazon’s ability to unilaterally change contract terms on the more than 10,000 French companies using its ecommerce platform to sell their goods — or even to suspend contracts entirely.

It’s not the first concern raising in the European Union around Amazon’s business practices. Earlier this year the company was forced to modify its Kindle ebook contracts in the region after an EU antitrust investigation judged it had suppressed competition by imposing unfair terms on publishers which required them to disclose any terms they had agreed with rival publishers.

Tax is another bone of contention between EU governments and the ecommerce giant  — including in France which five years ago demanded Amazon pay $252M in non-reported tax.

This October the EU also ordered Amazon to pay $295M in back taxes, asserting it had been given illegal tax benefits in Luxembourg where its corporate HQ is based.

Multiple EU governments are now pushing for tax reform to respond to where digital platforms generate revenue not just where they book profit to counteract the problem of tax base erosion in individual Member States.