Donate Today

Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods should be put on hold until Amazon ends its “deceptive pricing practices,” a consumer group has demanded in a complaint to federal regulators.

Consumer Watchdog claims the e-commerce giant uses inflated “reference prices” next to real prices on product ads, misleading online shoppers into thinking they’re looking at a better deal than what’s actually on offer.

The reference prices “have no basis in reality,” Consumer Watchdog charged in its July 6 letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.

A consumer group is urging federal regulators to block Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods Market until the online giant stops "deceptive pricing practices."

In a letter to the acting heads of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition, Consumer Watchdog repeated an earlier claim that Seattle-based Amazon "continues to deceive consumers by falsely leading them to believe they are getting larger discounts than is actually the case."

In a bid to promote its deals to consumers, Amazon.com Inc. started displaying current discounts compared to their historic price tags — a strategy that it calls the “was” price.

The “was” price was introduced as the e-commerce giant faced legal challenges and mounting criticism for allegedly exaggerating discounts through its previous pricing strategy, which was based on “list” prices derived from manufacturers, vendors and competitors.

As a House subcommittee considered more than a dozen bills proposing various federal standards for self-driving vehicles, the group Consumer Watchdog expressed concern that a federal proposal to pre-empt state safety regulations “would leave a regulatory void without meaningful safety protections.”