"Contrary to the WSJ report, a coalition has not yet been formed and no decisions have been made. Among the matters that will be discussed, if a coalition goes forward, is whether to support re-institution via legislation of per se illegality or whether some other approach that will structure a rule of reason using rebuttable presumptions and shifting of burdens may be better. The problem today is that Leegin has unleashed a variety of strategies that are hurting consumers and some serious effort needs to be made if a free market is to operate in areas that are now price-fixed." [hyper-links are mine]
Friday, December 05, 2008
Beating a Dead Horse! Antitrust and eBay!
A while back, I was beginning to wonder if I was running out of things to blog about, at least things that interested me, then I participated in a conference call with Tod Cohen, eBay's VP of Government relations on Tuesday. Now I have all kinds of interesting things to write about; of course they may only be interesting to me and I should thank eBay for the invitation to the conference call.
I've already written a couple of posts on the subject of "price fixing" and that eBay is working with the American Antitrust Institute to fight against manufacturers who use MAP (minimum advertised price) to protect their brands and the value of their products.
My position is that manufacturers have the right to do this as long as they don't abuse it and that MAP actually helps small sellers compete with the large retailers who would "discount" them out of business. I agree the consumer needs to be protected from actual "price fixing" but repealing the ruling on MAP doesn't seem the proper approach.
Then of course I saw this video as part of a press release (please play the video) on the subject, basically saying that eBay was in danger of getting shut down by the Big Box retailers. They should have just said Wal-Mart is trying to shut us down.
Well if you watch the video it will blow you away that eBay is claiming to be the victim under the guise of helping the small seller. Okay stop laughing, its true watch the video.
eBay, a company that invites Big Box retailers to sell on their site, in effect driving the small seller off the marketplace and a company that reduces payment choice for the consumer on their worldwide marketplaces via PayPal "only" is working with the American Antitrust Institute. Isn't that rich?
I had to ask AAI about there association with eBay and their efforts in regards to a repeal of MAP rather than use the Supreme Court's ruling that "rule of reason" should be used to fight abuses. I received the following reply from Albert Foer, President of the organization;
For your benefit, I've included a link to the AAI Press conference, in case you would like to get some context and listen to the audio.
So there no coalition and eBay and for that matter AAI are using this as a PR opportunity. I do agree with Mr. Foer's final statement "Leegin has unleashed a variety of strategies that are hurting consumers and some serious effort needs to be made if a free market is to operate in areas that are now price-fixed."
My advice to Mr. Foer is to reevaluate his organizations association with eBay on Antitrust matters.
In my view, the small seller must be part of this discussion or the whole process will be a farce. Small business is the backbone of America and it is time we had a voice. It isn't strictly about the consumer, it involves so much more.
Just my 15%