Aria Technology has written to the Competition and Markets Authority over an alleged breach of competition law for price fixing by components manufacturer MSI.
The dispute came after MSI asked the electronics retailer to raise the price at which it was selling its 980s graphics cards, which were recently launched, after it dropped them under a special launch offer price to £424.
Aria did not change the price of its MSI graphics cards initially but continued to receive requests to do so from MSI, which asked that the price be raised to £449.99, which is £10 lower than its minimum suggested retail price (MSRP) of £459.
Following the price drop by Aria, other retailers also reduced their price of the MSI 980s.
Aria Taheri, chief executive of Manchester-based Aria (pictured), said: "These days manufacturers need to approach retailers by understanding their businesses first before putting any demands on them.
"MSI has not made any attempt to understand our business model and instead it has put demands on us that may have actually contravened business law."
Following the dispute over pricing, MSI cut off Aria's supply of MSI graphics through distribution last Friday and it was forced to sell an equivalent product from one of MSI's competitors, Taheri claimed.
"We are highly disappointed by the approach and I hope that after this experience MSI will be able to better align itself with industry standards," Taheri said.
In a statement sent to CRN, MSI said: "When demand is high and stock is in constraint, around a major launch, we will notice if resellers appear to be selling way below MSRP, which affects the product launch structure and results in the consumer losing faith in the product. We would naturally flag that to the reseller to make sure they have not made a mistake. That's just good service for the mutual customer.
"Thinking that they may have mispriced the product, we made contact and tried to solve the situation, which seems to be misunderstood under pressure, and we are working closely to resolve this amicably."
Jon Atherton, vice president at MSI distributor Enta Technologies, said: "You can understand any brand wants to keep their brand equity at a set level but you have to respect companies that want to sell that product and you have to respect the freedom of the market."
CRN understands that there was no prior pricing agreement made before Aria started selling MSI's graphics cards.
In its letter to the competition authority, Aria referenced section 3.5 and 3.8 of the Office of Fair Trading's Agreements and Concerted Practices.
In section 3.8 it states: "Price-fixing issues are not limited to agreements between competing undertakings. They can also arise between undertakings operating at different levels in the supply chain, where an agreement directly or indirectly has the object of restricting a buyer's ability to determine its resale price."
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