PC retailers welcomed a report calling for the abolition of recommended retail prices (RRPs) for household goods but have expressed doubts about whether the proposals should apply to computers.
The Monopolies & Mergers Commission report, released last week, called for the abolition of RRPs in eight markets: TVs, VCRs, hi-fis, camcorders, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and fridges.
It also recommended an end to manufacturers? practice of restricting supply to retailers that sell at prices below RRP. The report did not take into account PCs, which were not considered to be household items.
Michael Kraftman, marketing and technical director at Tempo, said on balance the report was a positive development, adding that the PC market was so volatile that the abolition of RRPs would have little impact. He said most PCs have a shelf life of six months and typically go through at least two price changes.
Chris Peacock, sales director at Gem, expressed concern that ending controls on supply would have a detrimental effect on computer after-sales services, which are particularly important for hardware manufacturers. He also pointed out there was more variety of selling practices in the computer market than in the traditional domestic electrical market.
In a statement, Staples claimed it does not quote RRPs in its advertising of any PC products so the possible inclusion of PCs in future MMC reports would not be an issue. It added: ?However, we do believe that eliminating RRPs altogether would be in the best interests of the industry.?
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