Amazon Restricts Ads for Competing Electronic Devices

Now, a forthcoming Yahoo News story reportedly says that Amazon is blocking Amazon Prime members from seeing Amazon’s own “internal listings” for competing electronic devices.

Some of those companies, for instance, have their own Prime benefits, such as Amazon Home Services, and, because many Prime users have jobs that require them to buy a lot of things, they may want to sell those services on Amazon, too. Or, they may want to sell their own small appliances like hobs and coffee makers that they have on hand, and those have better reviews and are cheaper than Amazon’s own home goods.

But in addition to, say, Amazon Appliances, which sells “repair tools, displays, fabrics, equipment, and related products,” there are also, as Yahoo says, Amazon Prime Home Services, which sells home-cleaning, roofing, and other services, and Amazon Households, which also sells household goods and services.

But now, according to the article, Amazon “is preventing Prime members from seeing competitor-created lists, including those created by small businesses” — an information blackout that affects homeowners who want to buy competitive services for their homes.

Consider an Amazon customer who actually works as a florist, which is a popular industry in which Amazon is less than competitive. What’s her first idea of what equipment to buy to help meet her customers’ floral needs? She might look for quality, low-pressure packaging. She might work up a list of florists. Or, she might consider Amazon Households. Or, for that matter, a site like Poshmark or Threadflip, which are not only more carefully curated than Amazon, but actually make money selling top-quality designer and high-end merchandise to fashionistas at discounted prices.

After all, when you own Amazon Home Services, don’t you want to be competitive in that area, too?

So Amazon is supposed to be, well, excellent at delivering the stuff you want, for lower prices. Well, why is it, for instance, letting other guys (that would be competitors) undercut it in the marketplace in which you sell the things you want?

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that competition between Amazon and its Prime rivals amounts to antitrust-violation; nor am I saying that Amazon should really be against free competition. The market forces involved are perfectly self-correcting. Instead, I’m saying that this kind of giving preferential treatment to its own products — a very bad idea — is not in the public interest.

And, if you know someone who can show me the deal, I’d really love to see you post it so I can publish it in Technalysis Journal.