Amazon ends policy that prevented third-party merchants from selling products for lower prices on other sites

(GeekWire Photo)

Amazon made a key policy change on Monday, eliminating a rule that kept U.S.-based third-party merchants from selling identical products for cheaper prices outside of Amazon’s marketplace.

Axios first reported the news Monday morning. Amazon declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire about the change.

Amazon critics cited the “price parity provisions” as a violation of antitrust laws. This past December, Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the policy.

“I am deeply concerned that the price parity provisions in Amazon’s contracts with third-party sellers could stifle market competition and artificially inflate prices on consumer goods that millions of Americans are planning to buy this holiday season,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to the U.S. assistant attorney general.

In 2013, Amazon made a similar change in Europe after facing regulatory pressure.

The news comes less than a week after Sen. Elizabeth Warren revealed a plan to break up large tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Amazon is currently under investigation by German antitrust officials over its treatment of third-party sellers.

Last week reports emerged of Amazon stopping its purchases from wholesale suppliers, who are instead being encouraged to sell directly to consumers via Amazon’s third-party marketplace.

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