Now that the dust has settled from last month’s news that Amazon wants to buy Whole Foods, concerns about the proposed $13.7 billion merger are growing. And though I’m sure Jeff Bezos would love the acquisition to be a walk in the park, it may not be that simple. Regulators are more intensely scrutinizing Amazon’s pricing tactics in light of its deal with the high-end grocer.
Reuters reports that, as part of its review of the Whole Foods deal, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into claims that Amazon misled customers about certain discounts. The probe comes after an advocacy group looked into whether Amazon’s reference prices (or list prices) were accurate. It found them to be repeatedly misleading, Reuters reports.
The FTC isn’t the only one with questions. In an interview with Recode, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey expressed concerns about how the merger would affect access to groceries in poorer neighborhoods. “We’re having a hard enough time getting supermarkets to move into urban communities, to give people choice, to give people price competitiveness, so that actually they’re paying for affordable groceries,” he said. Booker said he is writing a letter with the Congressional Black Caucus that asks for greater scrutiny of the merger.
With all this, Amazon has more than a few hurdles to overcome before the deal is complete.