Apple, Amazon under investigation by Italian government for alleged price fixing [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2020
Apple and Amazon are accused of blocking the sale of Apple and Beats devices to legal but unauthorized resellers who might undercut prices.

Apple Store Piazza in Milan


Italy's antitrust regulator L'Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) is again investigating Apple following previous probes into planned obsolescence, and battery slow downs. The new investigation concerns allegations that Apple and Amazon have worked to prevent price cuts from other vendors.

"This investigation is aimed at ascertaining whether Apple and Amazon have put in place an agreement restricting competition," says the AGCM in a press release (in translation). "[It is alleged that they] prohibit the sale of Apple and Beats branded products by electronics retailers not participating in the official Apple program."

The AGCM notes that these alternative retailers "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

AGCM is investigating Apple and Amazon specifically for alleged contravention of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The article chiefly prohibits cartels, but is also aimed at any other agreements that affect free competition within the region.

Neither Apple nor Amazon have commented publicly, and the AGCM has not announced any details of the timescale for its investigation. It has, however, said that its officials carried out inspections at the local Italian offices of both companies on Tuesday.

Update A report from CNBC on Wednesday notes Italian authorities raided both Apple and Amazon's offices as part of the investigation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,038member
    Please can I see that amazing store in Milan and the brand new one in downtown Rome before you shut Apple Italy down?

    Surely the CFO, Luca Maestri, has a friend or relative back in Italy who can help (wink, wink).   :D
  • Reply 2 of 7
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 959member
    I'm a bit confused: "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

    In North America you can't purchase Apple products from distribution unless you are a part of the "official Apple program", ie. an Authorized reseller.

    Apple can even restrict certain product lines to specific partners.
  • Reply 3 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,508member
    mknelson said:
    I'm a bit confused: "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

    In North America you can't purchase Apple products from distribution unless you are a part of the "official Apple program", ie. an Authorized reseller.

    Apple can even restrict certain product lines to specific partners.
    I believe they have a larger network of distribution in Europe, I thought per country but apparently not since sometimes a region seems to be covered by one (ie Apcom), whereas in the US they all source from the same one. I've also seen reference to a newish "Distribution Partner Program" in the EU, or at least parts of it. 
    edited July 2020
  • Reply 4 of 7
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 959member
    gatorguy said:
    mknelson said:
    I'm a bit confused: "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

    In North America you can't purchase Apple products from distribution unless you are a part of the "official Apple program", ie. an Authorized reseller.

    Apple can even restrict certain product lines to specific partners.
    I believe they have a larger network of distribution in Europe, I thought per country but apparently not since sometimes a region seems to be covered by one (ie Apcom), whereas in the US they all source from the same one. I've also seen reference to a newish "Distribution Partner Program" in the EU, or at least parts of it. 
    No, we (independent reseller in Canada) can buy Apple hero gear from 3 or 4 different distributors and only because we are Authorized. Non authorized accounts looking for Apple SKUs gets "not authorized" and no pricing or stock statuses.
  • Reply 5 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,508member
    mknelson said:
    gatorguy said:
    mknelson said:
    I'm a bit confused: "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

    In North America you can't purchase Apple products from distribution unless you are a part of the "official Apple program", ie. an Authorized reseller.

    Apple can even restrict certain product lines to specific partners.
    I believe they have a larger network of distribution in Europe, I thought per country but apparently not since sometimes a region seems to be covered by one (ie Apcom), whereas in the US they all source from the same one. I've also seen reference to a newish "Distribution Partner Program" in the EU, or at least parts of it. 
    No, we (independent reseller in Canada) can buy Apple hero gear from 3 or 4 different distributors and only because we are Authorized. Non authorized accounts looking for Apple SKUs gets "not authorized" and no pricing or stock statuses.
    If that's true for Europe too then the entire article makes no sense. Unless...

    This is only about the agreement that Amazon has with Apple not to allow sellers in their marketplace with legitimate new Apple gear perhaps discounted but not in this case an "an Apple Italy authorized seller".  Here in the US too there's been dustups about the Apple/Amazon sales agreement which prevents discounting, something the FTC is looking into as I recall.  

    EDIT: Yes the US has raised the same concerns as Italy:
    https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/2/20751482/ftc-amazon-apple-iphone-reseller-agreement-antitrust
    edited July 2020
  • Reply 6 of 7
    EU law needs to change. If I were Apple, why would I want to work with a reseller cutting your own SRP? But EU law says they have to sell to those idiots.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    mknelson said:
    gatorguy said:
    mknelson said:
    I'm a bit confused: "legitimately purchase the products from wholesalers and then resell them to retail."

    In North America you can't purchase Apple products from distribution unless you are a part of the "official Apple program", ie. an Authorized reseller.

    Apple can even restrict certain product lines to specific partners.
    I believe they have a larger network of distribution in Europe, I thought per country but apparently not since sometimes a region seems to be covered by one (ie Apcom), whereas in the US they all source from the same one. I've also seen reference to a newish "Distribution Partner Program" in the EU, or at least parts of it. 
    No, we (independent reseller in Canada) can buy Apple hero gear from 3 or 4 different distributors and only because we are Authorized. Non authorized accounts looking for Apple SKUs gets "not authorized" and no pricing or stock statuses.
    It's different in EU. If you refuse to sell to someone, they can report you. Even if you undercut SRP's. 
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