Amazon allegedly tricked users into buying more expensive products through the use of its “Buy Box,” according to a class action lawsuit filed last week. The Buy Box, which features a “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” button next to eligible items, funnels users into terrible deals through the ease of one-click shopping according to the complaint, Ars Technica reports on Monday.
“Amazon customers reasonably believe that the Buy Box—which presents the only way for a customer to ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Add to Cart’ for a given item—features the lowest-price offer for that item,” says the complaint. “But that isn’t true.”
The class action lawsuit alleges that when an Amazon product has multiple sellers, the company chooses a winner that goes in the Buy Box. This product is granted the most real estate on Amazon’s website and requires the least amount of clicks to purchase. The lawsuit alleges nearly 98% of Amazon’s sales are from products in its Buy Box. However, if customers were to navigate to “Other Sellers,” they’d likely find better deals, according to the complaint. Amazon allegedly favors products that use the company’s delivery service, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), to be in the Buy Box, but not necessarily the best deal.
Amazon did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
The e-commerce platform has long been accused of algorithmically screwing over customers for years. The Federal Trade Commission accused Amazon of using a price-gouging algorithm “Project Nessie” to jack up prices for consumers back in November. The company also reportedly changed its algorithm to favor its most profitable products, including its own private-label goods.
The lawsuit was filed by two Californians on behalf of all Amazon customers who have bought something through a Buy Box since 2016. It’s difficult to calculate exactly how many people are in this class, but there are hundreds of millions of Amazon customers in the United States, and nearly everyone uses the Buy Box.
Most Amazon users assume the most highly promoted products are the best deals, however, that seems to rarely be the case. Amazon has been the subject of several lawsuits and investigations over the years surrounding pricing algorithms. The company has been accused more than once of favoring products within its ecosystem, even when it’s not beneficial to customers.