Gary Merson, editor of television-industry intel site HD Guru, claims to have gotten ahold of prices for Samsung's 2012 TVs. In the process, he learned something troubling for consumers: There may not be any more comparison shopping for Samsung TVs. Something called a "unilateral pricing policy" will mean that any seller, be it Amazon or Best Buy or Costco, will have to charge the same price for Samsung models. "This is the biggest TV company in America saying they are going to price-fix their models," said Merson. "This is unprecedented."
Merson said he contacted Samsung to check his information but has not yet received a reply. (TechNewsDaily had the same experience.)
The only other major example was Sony setting minimum prices a few years ago on some TVs and other AV products. But the policy didn't last.
Merson said he will publish the prices of most Samsung TVs on Tuesday, and LG sets Wednesday on the HD Guru site. (He has already published what he believes to be the prices for Panasonic, Sharp and Sony TVs.) He expects the fixed prices to start with higher-end TVs, such as the 3D and Internet-connected models, though they are becoming very common features.
Are the numbers accurate? "You've got 1,000 retailers with the information. When I spoke to multiple retailers, they told me what's going down…It's pretty darn reliable," said Merson. And this isn't the first time. "I do this every year…They should be used to it by now," he added. The final prices may end up a bit different, but not by much, he expects.
While the news may not be good for consumers, it was probably inevitable, said Merson. "I think it's great that Samsung is doing this…we can't keep taking these losses." He said that the small-to-negative profits are thinning out the number of high-end TV companies that make all their own components: LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Sony.
Paying a little more may be the price for keeping the quality brands in business.