If you haven’t been following the news today, Amazon has come to receive a lot of heat for how it operates its marketplace. After Germany dropped its investigation, Amazon coincidentally announced updated terms for marketplace participants.
Germany’s anti-trust authority has agreed to drop a seven-month investigation into Amazon’s merchant terms after Amazon said it would amend its Business Services Agreement. The new terms, which will take effect within 30 days, will mean Amazon now complies with European rules governing liability towards its business partners on its European platforms. It will have to give merchants 30 days’ notice — and an explanation — before removing a seller from the platform, and merchants in Europe will be able to take Amazon to court in their own country. Previously this was only possible in Luxembourg.
The article goes on to say that these new terms will apply to Amazon marketplaces in Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, and marketplaces in America and Asia. Though the article didn’t specify which American markets, we can assume the United States (amazon.com) is one of them based on the Seller Central announcement that went out shortly after.
This is fantastic news for sellers on the Amazon marketplace. Starting August 16th, Amazon will have an obligation to disclose why a merchant is being kicked off the platform and allow them 30 days to respond to the action. Previously, merchants could be booted without warning and without recourse.
Taking a look at the previous passage once more, notice how the rules involve liability toward…business partners. In the E.U.’s eyes, 3rd party sellers conducting business on the Amazon marketplaces are like regular businesses. One could easily speculate that the E.U. isn’t a fan of the notion that Amazon can effectively decide whether a business exists one day, and ceases the next. This is just my opinion, but it’s an interesting dynamic to see play out. These kinds of pushes would never see the light of day in the United States for a multitude of reasons.
These changes take effect automatically on August 16th, 2019.
Changes in summary
Here are the changes to the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement (source, login required):
- General Terms “Introduction”: Amazon is clarifying how the terms will be handled in the event there is conflict over which set of terms should prevail. The “General Terms” now preside over all.
- Section 3 “Term and Termination”: we are adding more specific information about account suspension and termination and we are providing for a right to appeal such actions in certain circumstances.
- Section 4 “License”: we are narrowing the scope of the limited license sellers give us to their intellectual property.
- Section 6 “Indemnification”: the obligation to indemnify will apply mutually to both parties.
- Section 15 “Modification”: we will provide advance notice when we modify the BSA, except where needed to protect customers.
- Section S-3.2 “A-to-z Guarantee”: we will provide an express right to appeal our A-to-z determinations.
- Section F-7 “Returns to You and Disposal”: we have revised the procedure for refusing, removing, or disposing of FBA inventory.
- ”Selling Partner API Terms”: we have streamlined the terms for our selling partner APIs, including Marketplace Web Services (MWS), distinguished the different terms that apply to sellers and developers, and clarified permissible uses of those APIs.
Read the entire agreement in redline form here.