Legal Question in Consumer Law in Virginia

Two well known e-commerce selling platforms have been pushing their sellers to offer “free shipping” in an effort to entice more buyers. One platform has recently ramped up the pressure and is openly encouraging sellers to roll the price of shipping into the item price at which time the site will give you a “free shipping badge” and priority placement in search. They have even included a handy seller “tool” to make it quick and easy to do so. In addition the let them selves off the hook by telling sellers to make sure they comply with local laws and regs. The problem with this is it seems to violate the Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 223, Deceptive Pricing. While this practice is rampant on these sites it has largely gone unchecked for years. Can I get verification that this practice might be any or all of the following; illegal, violates the code, subjects the seller to possible litigation or fines from the FTC?

Asked on 7/18/19, 6:47 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jonathon Moseley Jonathon A. Moseley

This sounds like a very detailed and complicated situation.

I don't think I or most attorneys would be comfortable giving a quick answer on this situation, even though I worked for my brother's company off and on for many years which provides secure shipping services for high-value products. He worked for 5 years at Federal Express. So I think I know a fair amount about this general area.

But I would have to know a lot more to give an opinion on this than a quick answer here.

But most government agencies do allow you to ask for an advisory opinion.

This helps protect you because if they later make an issue out of it you can show that you sought their guidance.

You could ask for an advisory opinion at:

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Answered on 7/25/19, 4:45 pm

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