Liberal Return Policies vs. "has my camera been used?": A way to Solve This

Started May 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Eamon Hickey
Eamon Hickey Veteran Member • Posts: 3,506
wholesalers and uniform retail pricing

Just a couple of clarifications, so that you guys can all think about this based on better information:

ne beginner wrote:

Do you mean MAP pricing? Minimum advertised price? Yes, that would make it harder for a large chain to sell a camera or lens for less than the MAP. But that still does not level the playing field.

No, he meant what's sometimes called "uniform retail pricing". About 6-8 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that opened the door to strict resale price maintenance by a manufacturer -- i.e. Nikon can dictate to its dealers a minimum resale price below which the retailer cannot sell, period. (Not advertise; sell). Nikon does do this. They began this practice about 3-4 years after the court ruling. Nikon is not alone, nor were they the first. Many camera and electronics manufacturers are doing it now. Not every product is covered under these programs, but most of the major hard goods (cameras & lenses) are.

MAP is the old, much weaker, price support mechanism. When manufacturers institute uniform pricing programs, they abandon MAP programs, since MAP would be redundant.

The Supreme Court decision that enabled this shift is called Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. Wikipedia undoubtedly has some information on it.

Secondly, in the U.S. legitimate, authorized camera stores have never bought from wholesalers; all the major manufacturers sell direct to their authorized retailers. So every authorized retailer, in theory, has access to the same wholesale prices (obviously, there are nuances). When I was a Nikon sales rep, I had a dozen or so tiny little dealers who did the bare minimum to stay authorized ($10,000/yr. in those days) and I had big chain dealers who did many millions of dollars a year in business. Both placed their orders the same way -- by phoning me or the Nikon USA order desk -- and both worked from the same price list. All the other camera manufacturers operated the same way.

There were some camera wholesalers in the U.S. (undoubtedly still are), but they sold to non-authorized retailers, and they sold gray market and refurbished.

Now I left that job over a decade ago, and there have been some changes in the industry since then, but as far as I know, there has been no major shift to using wholesalers in the U.S. camera industry. Wholesalers do play a central role in distribution in many other U.S. industries but not in cameras, to the best of my information.

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