Amazon has accused the Federal Trade Commission of making “unworkable and unfair” requests and harassing founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy throughout a consumer protection investigation into Amazon Prime. 

In a recent filing that was made public Monday, Amazon says the FTC unexpectedly broadened the scope of its investigation and is rushing toward a fall deadline after months of silence, leaving the company little time to prepare the requested information. 

Amazon is asking the regulatory agency to move its deadline back or quash several civil investigative demands — which are similar to subpoenas — for Bezos, Jassy and other top executives, including Dave Clark, who formerly ran the Prime program before stepping down in June, and Doug Herrington, who is taking Clark’s place.

The ongoing investigation reflects “less of a responsible effort to collect the facts … than a one-sided effort to force Amazon to meet impossible-to-satisfy demands,” the filing read.

The FTC, which has both antitrust and consumer-protection mandates, has been investigating Amazon for potential anti-competitive conduct for several years. It opened an investigation in March 2021 into Amazon Prime, focusing on the process for signing up and canceling the subscription service, to look at whether it violated consumer protection laws. 

Since then, Amazon says, it has provided roughly 37,000 pages of documents. But staff from the regulatory agency “inexplicably disengaged” and were slow to respond, Amazon says. At one point, Amazon says FTC staff fell silent for about six months. 


In April 2022, more than a year after opening the investigation, staff from the regulatory agency told Amazon they were under “tremendous pressure” to conclude the investigation and had a directive to recommend a course of action before this fall. 

In a new filing, the FTC asked for more documents from Amazon and served civil investigative demands to 20 current and former employees. It also expanded the scope to include five more programs, including Audible, Amazon Music and Kindle Unlimited.

Now Amazon is asking the FTC to clarify its “vague and argumentative” requests and to give it more time to respond.

It’s also asking to limit the additional civil investigative demands to provide individuals more flexibility in scheduling and time to choose their own attorneys.

Jassy and Bezos want to “quash” their civil investigative demands because, Amazon says, the FTC can get the same information from other sources. 

Though it will still cooperate with the investigation, Amazon said the process has been “unusual and perplexing” with “unexplained pressure” to meet what it says is an arbitrary deadline.


The FTC will be required to respond to Amazon’s allegations over the next few months. Then the commission will hand down a ruling about how to move forward. 

When FTC Chair Lina Khan took over the position in June 2021, she escalated the investigation, shaking up the team, re-interviewing potential witnesses and asking questions about the company’s recent acquisition of MGM Studios. 

Earlier this year, the House Judiciary Committee asked the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon and some of its executives for criminal obstruction in another investigation looking at whether the e-commerce giant uses data about its customers to advance the sale of its own private-label products rather than third-party sellers on its platform. Amazon is accused of refusing to turn over information and lying about how the company treats third-party sellers.

The Seattle Times wire services contributed to this report.