Cybercops Bust Retailers Whose Deals Are Too Good

By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Dec 4, 2008 9:57 AM CST
eBay signs illuminate the company's booth at the DigitalLife expo in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)
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(Newser) – Manufacturers have gone on the offensive to stop discounters from selling their products for less than the minimum advertised price they set, reports the Wall Street Journal. But companies like eBay and Costco are pushing for laws to ban the minimum prices. Some retailers, like Circuit City, use workarounds to undercut the "MAP," or minimum advertised price. The Supreme Court has ruled that MAPs do not constitute an antitrust violation.

Many manufacturers enforce their MAPs through an emerging industry of cybermonitors who comb the Internet looking for super-low prices—and allow the manufacturers to punish violators. They say they're protecting their brands, but consumer advocates argue that the result is artificially inflated prices, and some retailers complain of inconsistent enforcement. "We feel that consumers will ultimately suffer," says an eBay rep.