Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been ordered to testify in a federal probe of the company’s Prime membership program.
On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission determined that Bezos and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy must respond to questions regarding a Prime system that reportedly has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide.
Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service that provides users access to premium services which are typically reserved for regular Amazon customers — such as prompt delivery of goods covering gaming, e-books, video, streaming music, and grocery-shopping services.
According to reports, Amazon initially requested the FTC to rescind its subpoenas of Bezos and Jassy, arguing that the top-level executives would not have unique knowledge about Prime enrollment and cancellation methods.
Amazon’s petition argued the FTC “identified no legitimate reason for needing their testimony when it can obtain the same information, and more, from other witnesses and documents.”
In July 2021, Jassy took over the top position at Amazon from Bezos, the world’s second-richest man, according to Forbes.
Bezos subsequently became the company’s executive chairman.
The FTC, however, rejected any requests from Amazon to shield Bezos and Jassy from providing testimony.
“Amazon provides no reason why the commission must accept anything less than all the relevant testimony it can obtain from these two witnesses,” the commissioners ruled on Wednesday.
In March 2021, the FTC began looking into allegations that Amazon had been enrolling regular customers into the Prime program without “prior expressed informed consent.” There were also accusations of Amazon failing to provide customers with a manageable route to halt the recurring charges.
Amazon reportedly complied with the FTC’s initial request for information.
However, the FTC ramped up its investigation in March 2022, after a Business Insider article said Amazon “knowingly tricked people” into signing up for Prime membership.
According to ABC News, the FTC investigation includes five other subscription services. Audible, Amazon Music, Kindle Unlimited, Subscribe & Save, and an “unidentified third-party program not offered by Amazon.”
Per ABC News, federal regulators also asked Amazon to identify the number of consumers who were enrolled in the programs, without allegedly providing consent, among other customer-driven information.
Back in June, the FTC reportedly sought more information from Amazon, and requested that several current and former Amazon employees provide testimony pertaining to the investigation — including Bezos and Jassy.
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