What is Amazon’s Buy Box?
Amazon’s Buy Box is the white box on the right side of Amazon’s product detail page. Here, customers are presented with the Add to Basket and Buy Now buttons.
Amazon uses a proprietary algorithm to rank product results when a consumer searches for a product in its Marketplace. The “winning,” or first-ranked item in the search results, typically appears in the Buy Box. This allows the consumer to one-click purchase the product without choosing between competing sellers. Instead, by choosing the first purchase option in the Buy Box, the consumer buys from whichever seller Amazon’s algorithm chooses, regardless of whether it offers the best price.
About the Buy Box Collective Action Against Amazon
It is alleged that Amazon has contravened competition law by abusing its market power to suppress competition with the use of its proprietary marketplace-offer-ranking algorithm, causing consumers to pay more for similar products than they would have in a free and fair market.
Robert Hammond is the Proposed Class Representative who will conduct the proceedings on behalf of all eligible class members. He has more than 20 years of experience acting on behalf of consumers. His past roles include eight years as Director of Postal Policy and Regulation for Citizens Advice, and, in 2022, he carried out research and wrote a policy paper for the Ofcom Communication Panel on customer service in the Telecom and Post sectors. Robert Hammond was also a solicitor in private practice for 10 years.
According to the claim, Amazon used a proprietary algorithm to rank product offer results whenever a consumer searched for a product in its marketplace. The “winning,” or first-ranked item in the search results, typically appeared in the Buy Box, which allowed the consumer to purchase the product directly (with one click) without being presented with similar competing sellers or retail offerings that were often cheaper. Instead, by selecting the purchase option in the Buy Box, the consumer bought from whichever seller Amazon’s algorithm determined to be the Buy Box winner. Amazon may be continuing this practice, which will be determined as part of the court process and as further evidence is prepared.
Overwhelmingly—more than 80% of the time—UK consumers accepted Amazon’s recommendation and purchased through the Buy Box. The claim alleges that the algorithm steered consumers towards product offerings that were more profitable for Amazon while obscuring other similar, and often more affordable, options. The competition for price and quality competition among sellers is reduced which causes consumers to pay inflated prices.
Robert Hammond is the Proposed Class Representative. A class representative is a person who acts on behalf for all members of a class of claimants. They are responsible for making sure the interests of the class are put first throughout the conduct of the claim. Robert Hammond has applied to bring the proceedings as an “opt-out” collective claim, on behalf of all UK consumers who bought products online from Amazon between at least 1 October 2015 and 1 June 2020. This means you do not have to do anything to be included in the claim and we will regularly update this website with further developments.
Robert Hammond has more than 20 years of experience advocating on behalf of consumer rights. His past roles include 8 years as Director of Postal Policy and Regulation for Citizens Advice and 10 years in private practice as a solicitor.
Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm is currently under investigation in the UK by the Competition and Markets Authority and has already been the subject of several investigations by European regulatory bodies.
An investigation by the Italian Competition Authority found that the way that Amazon chose who won the Buy Box unfairly advantaged its own offers as well as the offers made by third party sellers that paid Amazon for additional services like storage, shipping and after-sales support. As a result, the investigation found that Italian consumers were not being presented with the most competitive offers on Amazon’s Marketplace. In December 2021, the Italian Competition Authority imposed a €1.1-billion fine against Amazon to penalise its behaviour in regards to the Buy Box.
An investigation by the EU Commission also found that Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm was anticompetitive and, in its December 2022 final decision on the matter, the Commission required Amazon to display a second, competing offer in addition to the main Buy Box item if there is a substantial difference in price or delivery terms. The EU Commission’s order applies only to marketplaces in the European Economic Area, which does not include the UK.
Consumers in the UK deserve compensating for the amounts they have overpaid for products on the Amazon website and Amazon should be held to account regarding its conduct.
Competition law is concerned with agreements and practices which actually or potentially distort competition within a market in ways that are detrimental to consumers. In a fair and transparent market, consumers benefit from competition on price as well as greater product and service development. Breaches of competition law include abuses of dominant market positions by companies.
The www.claimagainstamazon.com website was created to inform potential class members about the collective claim against Amazon regarding its use of an allegedly anticompetitive Buy Box algorithm to unlawfully bolster profits at the expense of consumers. This website seeks to help you stay informed about the progress of the claim and potential for compensation.
About collective proceedings in the Competition Appeal Tribunal
The collective claim is being brought before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, a specialist court based in London that hears disputes such as this one. The Proposed Class Representative, Robert Hammond, applied to bring the proceedings as an opt-out collective claim. This means you do not have to do anything to be included in the claim, and we will regularly update this website with further developments.
Collective proceedings are brought by a class representative on behalf of a group of claimants (known as a “class” or individually a “class member”) who have suffered a loss following a breach of competition law.
Most individuals cannot afford to engage in costly and time-consuming individual litigation against well-resourced defendants. A collective action provides crucial access to justice in circumstances where claimants might not otherwise be able to bring a claim. Claimants affected by the same harm to be represented by a single person or body to bring a claim, without shouldering the financial risks associated with litigation.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal is a specialist court based in London which hears claims concerning breaches of competition law.
Collective claims require a class representative and our Proposed Class Representative is Robert Hammond. A class representative is a person who acts on behalf of all members of the class. The class representative’s main responsibilities are to act in the best interests of the class and to act fairly and adequately, in order to obtain the best possible outcome for the class members.
A class member is a member of a group of people or business entities, called a “class,” who have suffered common harm as a result of the defendant’s or defendants’ conduct. A collective action allows all the individual claims to be dealt with together.
Our strategy will be to encourage Amazon to settle the claim at the earliest opportunity, so that claimants can get their money back as soon as possible. If Amazon refuse, however, it may several years before compensation is secured. If you sign up for updates, we will keep you informed of our progress.
Eligibility & Participation
If you purchased a product from Amazon’s UK-based e-commerce marketplace at Amazon.co.uk between at least October 2015 and 1 June 2020, you may be eligible to participate in the collective claim. It is estimated that the proposed class comprises approximately 49.4 million people. Depending on the evidence, the proposed class may be expanded to include those that made relevant purchases after 1 June 2020.
Currently, you do not need to do anything to participate. The Competition Appeal Tribunal, the specialist court that hears actions of this nature, will decide whether this is an “opt-in” or “opt-out” case, which will determine whether class members are automatically included in the claim or not.
We expect that this case will be designated an opt-out case, meaning class members are domiciled in the UK at a date determined by the Tribunal will be automatically included in the claim and must actively opt-out if they do not want to participate. This is the only practical way to approach cases on this scale. If class members do not want to be part of the claim, they will be able to opt-out on this website at a later stage.
People who are not domiciled in the UK, on a date that will be set by the Tribunal, will need to opt-in if they want to be part of the claim. They will be able to do this on the website at a later stage.
If you would like to receive updates about the progress of the case, fill out the form.
There will be no cost or fee whatsoever for class members to be included in this claim.
The proposed class definition includes all persons who reside within the United Kingdom so you can take part in claim.
No. You may continue using Amazon as normal while participating in the collective claim.
Opt-In & Opt-Out
The Competition Appeal Tribunal, the specialist court that hears actions of this nature, will decide whether this is an “opt-in” or “opt-out” claim, which will determine whether class members are automatically included in the claim, or not. We expect that this case will be designated an opt-out claim, meaning class members will be automatically included in the claim unless they do not want to participate and they actively opt-out. This is the usual and practical way to approach collective claims of this scale.
If the Competition Appeal Tribunal decides that this will be an opt-out collective claim, you will need to actively opt out. If you are sure that you would like to opt-out of the claim, if it goes ahead, you can let us know by filling out the opt-out form here. In the unlikely event that the claim is designated to be an opt-in collective claim, you will not need to take any action if you do not wish to be part of the claim.
At this early stage, it is difficult to predict the amount of compensation you may ultimately receive. Robert Hammond has engaged an independent expert economist who, at this preliminary stage, estimates aggregate damages for all affected UK consumers to be over £1 billion. This is a preliminary estimate only and will require revision in due course should the case proceed and after relevant disclosure has been provided by Amazon. This figure does not reflect how much compensation individual class members may receive.
You are not responsible for paying any legal fees or expenses if you take part in the claim.
Under no circumstances will any class member be asked to pay any legal fees or expenses, even if the claim is unsuccessful.
Julie Hunter has also filed an application for collective proceedings with the Competition Appeal Tribunal against Amazon. At this stage, it is not possible to compare the claim brought by Robert Hammond with the one brought by Julie Hunter to find out whether they overlap. The Tribunal has, however, provided a summary of Julie Hunter’s claim, which also appears to relate to Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm. Download the summary.
We will set out the similarities and differences between the two claims at a later stage, as necessary.
Neither Robert Hammond’s claim nor Julie Hunter’s claim have yet been certified by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This means that at a later stage, the Tribunal may review both claims and decide whether one or both claims can be permitted to proceed as collective proceedings. We will update this website with further information as matters develop, and will include any notifications from the Tribunal on ‘Important Documents’.
If you would like to be informed of all developments, you can sign up to receive notifications about both claims against Amazon. This will not affect any entitlement that you may have. To be notified of developments in Julie Hunter’s claim, visit their website.