Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A note on Minimum Advertised Pricing Policies.

A note on Minimum Advertised Pricing Policies.

Over the last year many companies have introduced MAP (minimum advertised pricing) policies. MAP policies for the internet is a legal gray area and always puts the retailer in a difficult place. If we follow the policies we may not be following business practices that are best for our company and our customers; however, if we don't follow the policy then we may be running a legal risk.

As I see it, the difficulty with implementing a MAP policy is understanding where the pricing changes from an advertised price to a sales price. So we have questions like the following:

  • Is offering a discount on a product suggesting that the advertised price shown is not the actual price the customer will pay and therefor does this violate the MAP policy?
  • Is showing a MAP price with a line through it and advertising that the Advertised price is not really the advertised price and a violation of MAP policy, even if the retail price is not shown until the customer actually adds the product to his/her shopping cart?
  • Is showing a "call for price" link a violation of MAP policy? Interestingly one company we work with specifically allows "call for price", where another specifically states that this is not allowed?
  • If the policy is not being enforced across the board by the distributor then can they enforce it against any one retailer. For example if ebay sellers are discounting the price, can they legally hold a non ebay retailer to the policy?
Especially in the current economy the MAP policy sometimes seems to penalize the retailers trying to honor it and ties their hands from giving as good a deal to customers as they feel they can afford to.

At www.diecastairplane.com we currently take the stand that we can offer discount coupon codes through our email newsletter list and that this does not violate MAP policies as on the emails we show only MAP pricing. In other words we are advertising MAP prices, but we are also allowing customers to actually buy at a lower price than that shown. We are also investigating ways in which we can do this on the website, such as show a MAP price, but say that adding the item to the cart will give the customer a lower sale price.

Like most companies we are constantly fighting to give the best prices and best customer service to our customers while making sure we meet our suppliers demands.

I welcome comments on this post from any perspective.