By Paul Vieira
OTTAWA -- Amazon.com Inc. agreed to pay a fine and change its pricing practices in Canada after a two-year investigation concluded the online retailer made unsubstantiated claims about savings on certain products, Canada's antitrust agency said Wednesday.
Canada's Competition Bureau said it reached an agreement with Amazon over its findings, adding Amazon's cooperation and efforts to address the agency's concerns meant it received "more favorable [treatment] than would otherwise have been the case."
A representative for Seattle-based Amazon.com wasn't immediately available for comment.
The bureau said Amazon.com agreed to pay a fine of 1 million Canadian dollars ($756,029) and an additional C$100,000 to cover the agency's investigative costs. The agreement "ensures that consumers are provided with accurate information and not misled by savings claims," said John Pecman, head of the Canadian antitrust agency.
A copy of the agreement between the bureau and Amazon.com wasn't immediately available for viewing.
Canadian retail statistics indicate online sales in October reached C$1.1 billion, or 2.3% of total retail sales in the country.
Amazon has challenged the retail industry with frequent online price changes, something that changes how shoppers compare prices, how product manufacturers look to sell their wares and how traditional retailers price goods. Amazon has become known for being willing to give up profit on a popular item to capture more sales and to maintain its reputation for having the lowest prices, even if that doesn't apply to every single item.
The antitrust agency said that over the course of two years, ended last May, it monitored Amazon.com's Canadian website on a daily basis and examined the promotion of savings on a dozen Blu-ray movies. The retailer, the bureau said, would show Amazon's cost to be lower than the prevailing market price.
The bureau's investigation suggested Amazon relied on its suppliers to provide list prices "without verifying that those prices were accurate."
The agency said suppliers hadn't sold the Blu-ray movies in substantial volumes at the quoted list price or higher for a significant period, such as 12 months.
Amazon's claims "did not accurately reflect the savings available to consumers," the bureau said.
--Laura Stevens contributed to this article.
Write to Paul Vieira at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 11, 2017 14:12 ET (19:12 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones& Company, Inc.