The District Court of Hildesheim has put a stop to Amazon, by means of an injunction, forbidding its well-known practice of simply freezing funds.
Amazon justified the ban on the grounds that customer reviews had been manipulated through the seller’s account, without even specifying in the beginning which reviews were to be affected and what exactly had been manipulated. In return, an existing balance should be blocked from withdrawal for more than three months and further sales should no longer be possible by deleting the current offers.
Incidentally, this is a relatively normal behavior of Amazon, which I also experienced in the context of commission refunds for YouTubers and Twitch streamers. In these cases, tens of thousands of euros of income were simply withheld, accounts were terminated and the former partners were referred to the lawsuit.
As a rule, these behaviors, which are also experienced by other large corporations that believe to have sufficient market power, do not even find a reflected in their own gtC. If they do, however, the alleged GTC bodies are often incompatible with German GTC law, as there is often an unreasonable disadvantage for the contractual partner.
It is often worth defending against these behaviours. In the present case, the District Court of Hildesheim also ruled in paragraph 858 et seq. BGB followed legal ideas as a reason for disposition, since the blocking was an existential threat to the seller. Nevertheless, one can only advise not to leave unnecessary money in the customer’s accounts.
The decision does not, of course, change the fact that one should refrain from manipulating assessments. These may be anti-competitive, lead to warnings or justified terminations. A small overview can be found in this article. The seller must explicitly point out purchased reviews, as the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main ruled earlier this year. And don’t forget that advertising with reviews obtained only through a sweepstakes can be anti-competitive, as I explained in this article.