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Amazon changes UK pricing policy, removes parity clause

Amazon UK has changed its pricing policy, and now lets sellers flog their gear cheaper elsewhere.

Anyone selling goods on Amazon Marketplace in the UK is now free to offer the same products elsewhere for less. Previously, traders were banned from doing so, but Amazon has just deleted that policy, the BBC reports.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will drop its investigation into whether or not the parity practice was anti-competitive. The investigation has lasted a year so far.

Fellow traders complained to the OFT that the policy could mean higher prices all round, and that it could stop others from entering the market. The policy was also being investigated in Germany by the Federal Cartel Office, which sounds much cooler than the Office of Fair Trading. That investigation will also be given the heave-ho, once the Federal Cartel Office -- bet they wear shades all the time -- has confirmed the policy has definitely been withdrawn.

"We welcome Amazon's decision to end its Marketplace price parity policy across the European Union," the OFT's Cavendish Elithorn said in a statement." As Amazon operates one of the UK's biggest e-commerce sites, the pricing on its Website can have a wide impact on online prices offered to consumers elsewhere.

"We are pleased that sellers are now completely free to set their prices as they wish, as this encourages price competition and ensures customers can get the best possible deals."

The OFT also had some advice if you're selling through other sites who operate similar policies. "The OFT recommends that other companies operating similar policies review them carefully. Businesses concerned that they are being prevented from setting their own prices should not hesitate to contact the OFT."

So there you have it, fairer prices all round. Except for in the US, where the policy still applies. But them's the breaks. Do you think big companies like Amazon wield too much power? Let me know in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.