Competition Bureau secures court order to advance investigation into Amazon’s marketing practices

The order mandates Amazon to produce records pertinent to the Bureau’s ongoing probe
Competition Bureau secures court order to advance investigation into Amazon’s marketing practices

The Competition Bureau has obtained a second court order from the Federal Court of Canada to advance its investigation into potentially false or misleading claims made by Amazon.

The order mandates Amazon to produce records and written information pertinent to the Bureau’s ongoing probe. The investigation centres on Amazon’s use of reviews and ratings, which may influence product rankings and displays on their website and mobile app. The Bureau is scrutinizing whether Amazon's marketing practices comply with the deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act. As of now, there is no conclusion of wrongdoing.

Previously, on June 29, 2023, the Bureau secured a court order requiring Meta Platforms to provide information relevant to the same investigation. The Bureau highlighted its thorough approach to gathering evidence from multiple sources to ensure a comprehensive examination of the case.

According to the Competition Bureau, it remains dedicated to protecting consumers from deceptive marketing practices in the digital economy. The misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act explicitly prohibit making any false or misleading claims to promote a product, service, or business interest. All representations, in any form whatsoever that are false or misleading in a material respect are subject to the act. It is material if a representation could influence a consumer to buy or use the product or service advertised. To determine whether a representation is false or misleading, the courts consider the "general impression" it conveys and its literal meaning.

False or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices can have serious economic consequences, especially when directed toward large audiences or when they take place over a long period of time. They can affect both business competitors engaging in honest promotional efforts and consumers.

In a bid to assist consumers, the Bureau has issued a consumer alert with tips to help Canadians identify and avoid fake reviews. The Bureau also encourages anyone who suspects that a company is using false or misleading consumer reviews to report it through their online form.

According to the Bureau, the recent court order is a step forward in upholding fair marketing practices and ensuring transparency in digital marketplaces.