On Amazon.com, many sellers respect and honor MAP policies, but at times these honest sellers are undermined by those who advertise their products at prices below the MAP. This means that dishonest sellers can often steal sales away from those who respect the MAP policy. This behavior hurts honest business owners and can even impact the value of their brand. However, there are several things you can do if you believe you’re falling victim to such a problem.
Impact of Advertising Below the MAP
Advertising goods below the MAP price attracts business away from authorized sellers and even has an impact on what people buy in brick-and-mortar stores. For instance, if a customer is looking to buy an item in a store but decides against it because they saw it advertised cheaper online, this hurts the sales of the brick and mortar store. Advertising products below the MAP also hurts brand names, too. For instance, if a pair of shoes usually sells for $300 in stores and online, customers come to think of that brand as high quality. However, if that brand is sold at a price much lower than $300, the brand loses some of its value in the eyes of consumers.
Things to Consider Before Enforcing Your MAP Policy
If you are a manufacturer worried about MAP violations, there are several things you should consider before taking action:
- Are you willing to go out of your way to enforce a MAP policy, even if it causes you to lose certain retailers?
- Is your MAP policy designed correctly? If not, you could be in danger of violating antitrust laws. Always consult with a person or agency that is knowledgeable of antitrust laws in order to make or revise your MAP policy.
- Are you willing to invest the time and money to fight against anticompetitive conduct?
How You Can Take Action
When you see that your product is being advertised below the MAP price, the first step is to contact the retailer and inform them of the violation. The violation letter should be a standard form letter that you send to all MAP violators. Make sure the letter is professionally written. Avoid using coarse language, but make sure you don’t sound too soft either. Do not draft this letter yourself. Instead, work with someone experienced in antitrust law. Antitrust experts are current on laws in your state and can help you avoid using an online template that might not pertain to the laws in your area.
What to Do If the Retailer Ignores the MAP Violation Warning
After receiving a warning letter, an honest seller will review your MAP policy and make an effort to comply. However, some retailers might require a second or even a third warning. If these letters do not force the retailers to honor the policy, further legal action might be necessary. You also want to make sure you are consulting with a lawyer or antitrust specialist before sending out each additional warning letter. Legal language can be tricky, and you want to ensure you’re not violating any laws.
One of the best ways to prevent MAP violations is to monitor your products. Brandlox provides a monitoring service for those who wish to protect their brands. Contact us for a consultation at 4105 Indus Way, Riverside, CA 92503. Or, contact us by phone at (866) 882-8484 or by email.