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Marketplaces face probe as ACCC continues to review digital platforms

Amazon, Catch, Ebay and Kogan are under the regulatory spotlight as the ACCC continues its five-year investigation into digital platforms operating in Australia. 

Consumers, platforms and third-party sellers – from small businesses to major brands – are being invited to make submissions to the commission as it studies a range of potential issues potentially impacting open-market competition. 

These include the ability of customers to leave and read reviews of sellers and products, how complaints are handled, how consumer data is collected and used, the services offered by marketplaces, pricing structures, the terms and conditions imposed on third-party sellers, along with the impact on competition when the marketplace itself operates as a seller on its own platform.

“These online marketplaces are an important and growing segment of the economy, so it is important that we understand how online marketplaces operate and whether they are working effectively for consumers and businesses,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims.

“We want to be sure that the rules that apply to traditional retail are also complied with in the online context. We are keen to hear about the experiences of Australians, both consumers and businesses.”

During the broader enquiry into markets for the supply of digital platform services in Australia, the commission will report to the Treasurer every six months after examining different forms of digital platform services, their advertising services, as well as data brokers.

In this round, submissions close on August 19, and the final report will be provided to the Treasurer by March 31, next year. Meanwhile, another report, focusing on choice screens for search services and web browsers, is due to be lodged by September 30.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company “looks forward to engaging with the ACCC on these important topics in the coming months”, while an eBay representative was not immediately available for comment.

The ACCC inquiry does not cover specialist marketplaces limited to a narrow range of products.

  • Additional reporting by Reuters.

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