March 21, 2023

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

The Federal Trade Commission ruled against Amazon’s request to quash or limit subpoenas issued to top Amazon executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, ​​into the company’s investigation into the Prime sign-up process.

The FTC’s investigation centers around Amazon’s alleged misleading tactics surrounding the sign-up and cancellation process for Prime and other subscription services. A Previous filings, Amazon revealed that some of its top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy, ​​were subpoenaed as part of the investigation. At the time, Amazon argued that the FTC’s “ineffective and unfair” approach should reject what it described as an “impossible-to-satisfy claim.”

A New legal filings Wednesday eveningThe 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 applicants who have received a CID must “comply with and provide. specified testimony” on or before January 20, 2023.

“We do not agree that Amazon has adequately established as a general matter that CIDs issued to companies or individual witnesses present an undue burden in terms of scope or timing, and we decline to limit CIDs on this basis,” the FTC wrote. Filing on Wednesday.

In an email to Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said the company still believes the latest requests are “unnecessarily burdensome” and that it will continue to explore other options.

“We are disappointed but surprised that the FTC has essentially declined to rule against itself, but we are pleased that the agency has returned its broad requests and will allow witnesses to choose their own counsel,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “Amazon has cooperated with the FTC throughout the investigation and has already produced hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. We are committed to engaging constructively with FTC staff, but we are concerned that the latest requests are overly broad and unnecessarily burdensome, and we will explore all of our options.” “

The FTC asked commission staff to propose two dates for each witness to testify within two business days of Wednesday’s order. Each petitioner shall select from those options within four working days of this order. All investigative hearings related to CID will be held in Washington, D.C. or Seattle, the filing said.

The filing extensively cites an Insider story from March that first reported Amazon’s internal discussions about the Prime sign-up and cancellation process. Reports show that Amazon has knowingly tricked people into signing up for Prime subscriptions for years, despite employees raising concerns about growing customer complaints.

In a separate filing Wednesday, the FTC noted it was concerned about Amazon’s potential “prolonged discovery” of materials related to its investigation. One issue that came up earlier was whether certain Amazon employees would be allowed to use the same law firm that represented Amazon.

“We believe that it may be necessary to consider revising the Commission’s rules of practice for Part II investigations to address the potential for gamesmanship and delaying tactics that could impede critical investigations,” the FTC wrote.

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