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Italy watchdog fines Amazon €10 million for pre-selecting frequent delivery by default

Amazon Subscribe and Save

The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has fined two Amazon group companies, Amazon Services Europe and Amazon EU, a total of €10 million (approx. $10.7 million) for alleged unfair commercial practices, as reported by Reuters. The investigation found that Amazon is pre-selecting the recurring purchase option, which is part of the "Subscribe and Save" program, for a wide selection of products listed on Amazon Italy.

Amazon's Subscribe and Save program offers free shipping, discounted packaging, and scheduling frequent deliveries on eligible products. The feature allows customers to easily sign up for scheduled or recurring deliveries of the products they use or order regularly. The program offers a discount anywhere from 5 to 15% on the product, with the discount level determined based on the number of products the customer has subscribed for.

The Italian watchdog alleges that this practice "significantly restricts consumer’s freedom of choice," where consumers were more likely to opt for regularly scheduled deliveries rather than one-off purchases.

Here's a snippet from the AGCM's official press release:

The graphic layout of the pre-selected recurring purchase option may lead consumers to buy products periodically—even when there is no actual need—thereby limiting their ability to choose freely. Moreover, the conduct implemented by the company was deemed contrary to the standards of professional diligence. As a major operator, Amazon is expected to design its online interfaces, particularly those related to purchasing processes, in a manner that allows consumers to make free and informed commercial decisions.

When the investigation was initially opened, the AGCM also contested the pre-selection of the paid fast delivery option. Amazon has then proposed to pre-select only the free delivery option, which the authority has accepted.

In an email to Reuters, Amazon said that it would contest the decision and go for an appeal. The company also noted that the Subscribe and Save option has helped customers save more than €40 million since its launch in Italy.

Via Reuters

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