Apple and Amazon colluded to increase prices for UK customers, lawsuit claims

Amazon boxes
(Image credit: Amazon)

Apple and Amazon colluded to increase the price of products sold to customers in the United Kingdom, according to a new lawsuit lodged with the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

It's said that Apple products now cost more than they might otherwise have done if the two companies hadn't worked together to limit competition on Amazon's marketplace. It's said that the pair struck a deal in 2018, in secret, that would impact third-party sellers that could otherwise have helped drive down prices.

Amazon says that its agreement with Apple simply means that "customers can find the latest Apple and Beats products on our store, and they benefit from an expanded range with better deals and faster shipping."

No more independent merchants

TechCrunch reports that the lawsuit is seeking at least £500 million ($645 million) on behalf of Apple-buying customers across the United Kingdom. It relates to Apple products as well as those branded as Beats that have been sold on Amazon since October 2018 including AirPods, all of Apple's best iPhones, and other products.

“The claim alleges that, by January 2019, almost all independent merchants of Apple and Beats products disappeared from the Amazon marketplace as a result of Apple and Amazon’s collusion,” a press release says. “This led to a decrease in the discounts provided to customers by the limited number of independent merchants remaining, and a significant increase in the sales of Apple and Beats products at undiscounted prices.”

Apple is yet to publicly comment on the lawsuit and told TechCrunch that it was yet to see it. However, it did argue that its agreements with Amazon were designed to battle counterfeit products previously sold on its marketplace.  This is the same argument it put forth when faced with a similar situation in Spain earlier this month.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.