Apple denies Russian iPhone price fixing claims

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple rejected claims by Russia’s competition authority that it strictly controls the retail price of its iPhone smartphones in the country.

The company on Tuesday hit back at claims of iPhone price fixing made by the Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), which on Monday began investigating Apple’s pricing following a consumer complaint, Reuters reported.

Apple told Reuters that iPhone resellers in Russia -- and globally -- are free to set their own price for the smartphones in a statement emailed to the news agency.

The FAS opened the probe after a consumer pointed out that 16 leading resellers had set the same price on Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus models, which went on sale in Russia in October 2015, Reuters reported.

Specifically, the competition authority is investigating whether Apple required resellers to treat its recommended retail price as compulsory, the news agency stated.

Apple faced a similar accusation regarding iPhone price fixing in France in April, when the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) filed a complaint against Apple’s operator contract clauses at the Commercial Court in Paris.

The DGCCRF argued that Apple’s operator clauses result in a lack of pricing flexibility and called on the court to order the company to pay back a total of €48.5 million ($54.1 million) to French operators.

In addition to pricing flexibility, the DGCCRF stated that Apple also breaches local laws with clauses requiring operators to: prioritise the iPhone in store displays; agree to minimum device order levels; and grant the iPhone maker access to operator-owned trademarks. The competition authority also took issue with a clause requiring operators to pay into an Apple-controlled advertising fund.

The U.S. vendor is tipped to receive the outcome of a separate European Commission investigation into its tax arrangements in the region within the next two months.

According to a Computer Business Review report in July, the EC is due to reveal the outcome of a two-year probe into Apple’s tax deals in Ireland in September or October.

For more:
- see this Reuters report
- read this Computer Business Review article

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