Amazon has claimed the Federal Trade Commission is harassing its billionaire boss Jeff Bezos.
The company made a public filing earlier this month which has acknowledged a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the company’s Prime subscription business.
However, the company claims the agency has harassed its executive chairman Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy by asking them to testify.
Insider reported in March on internal documents showing “the company has been concerned since at least 2017 that user interface designs on Amazon have led customers to feel manipulated into signing up for Prime” but reportedly didn’t implement changes for fear they would negatively impact subscription growth.
At the time, an Amazon spokesperson at the time told Insider that Prime’s cancelation and sign-up process are “simple and transparent and clearly present customers with choices and the implications of those choices.”
Amazon’s lawyers are attempting to restrict or block Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs), similar to subpoenas, made against the business and specific present and former employees.
It is also attempting to have CIDs issued to Bezos and Jassy revoked on the grounds that staff did not provide a sufficient justification for requiring their testimony and that it is possible to find the same information elsewhere.
Bezos and Jassy’s attorneys argued that the FTC’s request for their testimony at an investigational hearing “on an open-ended list of topics on.
They say they lack specialized knowledge on those topics are “blatantly unreasonable, excessively burdensome, and designed solely to harass Amazon’s top executives and interfere with its business operations.”
An FTC spokesperson declined to comment.
For a probe that it claims started in March 2021, Amazon claimed it cooperated with FTC employees for more than a year, providing details about its Prime sign-up and cancellation process.
It claimed to have created about 37,000 pages of documents and held numerous meetings with staff to provide information.
However, Amazon claimed that eventually “staff inexplicably disengaged.”
According to Amazon, the FTC staff informed the company in April that a new attorney would take over the investigation while working under “tremendous pressure” to wrap things up before the fall after about six months of silence.
In June, Amazon received a new CID that “accelerated” and “expanded” the investigation’s reach to “at least five additional non-Prime subscription programs,” including Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, and Subscribe & Save,
They added nearly 20 additional individual CIDs served to current and former employees’ homes.
Amazon claimed that this was the first time it had heard of such a deadline
Amazon said the June CID on the company is “unworkable and unfair,” although it added it’s still committed to getting the FTC the information it needs.
If the commission won’t quash the CID, Amazon requested it at least extend the deadline for the information to Sept. 15, rather than August 5.