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A source reportedly close to the matter tells Reuters that the probe, which is part of the FTC's review of Amazon's agreement to purchase Whole Foods, was prompted by Consumer Watchdog.

Amazon in its statement said of the study said: "The conclusions the Consumer Watchdog group reached are flat out wrong". It filed the complaint after looking at some as many as products on Amazon's website and finding that the online retailer put reference prices or list prices on 46 per cent of them.

Critics of Amazon's proposed purchase of Whole Foods, which is pending approval from regulators, are anxious that Amazon's alleged deceptive discounting practices might spill over.

Amazon's pricing methods and advertising has received some pointed attention lately from outside observers, to the sometimes public consternation of Amazon, which has a deep interest in not only avoiding government lawsuits but also protecting its reputation as a low-price leader.

Consumer Watchdog said it believes the Whole Foods acquisition should be blocked unless Amazon changes its pricing strategies.

Additionally, past year Propublica, a nonprofit dedicated to investigative journalism, looked at 250 frequently purchased products over several weeks and found that around 75% of the time Amazon's own products and those of companies that buy Amazon's services were placed in its website's coveted "buy box". Many people have suspected Amazon of using reference pricing to make "deals" look far better than they actually are. On average, the Amazon reference overstated the median market prices by $22, or about 20 percent.

On July 6, Consumer Watchdog warned consumers about Amazon's deceptive pricing practices and said that the company's dubious behavior meant its big promotion should be called 'Slime Day, ' and not "Prime Day".

The investigation concerns whether Amazon and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.

"The study issued by Consumer Watchdog is deeply flawed, based on incomplete data and improper assumptions", an Amazon spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The company is planning to buy the nationwide grocer for $13.7 billion.


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