That “free shipping” perk of your Amazon Prime membership might not be such a great deal after all. Two separate lawsuits recently filed against Amazon claim the “world’s largest online retailer” encourages sellers to inflate prices on some products in order to cover shipping costs.
A $79 Amazon Prime membership (soon to cost $99) is advertised as providing customers with free two-day shipping on “millions” of items. Alabama resident Marcia Burke accused Amazon of encouraging third-party vendors to “conceal the shipping charges in the price of the product,” according to her lawsuit filed last Friday in federal court in Seattle.
The suit gives this example: If an item regularly sells for $10 with $3.99 shipping, Amazon suggests a vendor selling that product to a Prime member — someone who is getting “free shipping” — should charge $13.99 or higher. Prime-eligible products are highlighted on the website, and the suit claims, “[Amazon] provides these vendors priority by showing their items first in the Prime member’s product search results,” essentially duping those customers.