FTC Revives Robinson-Patman Act, Presents Potential Challenges to Channel

Regulators resurfacing the fair pricing regulation could cause significant headaches for channel program managers that must ensure equity in their partner relationship structures and practices.
By Larry Walsh

Most channel programs segregate partners into different classes based on their qualifications and revenue performance. That’s the foundation of tier systems in which partners earn status. And status equates to benefits, such as product discounts, incentives, and access to support and resources.

That description should sound familiar to anyone with even a passing experience in the IT channel. And yet, most people don’t know that tier and point systems are based on the 1936 Robinson-Patman Act, which codified fair practices that prevent suppliers from charging different prices to different buyers. In other words, vendors can’t give one company a better price at the expense of a...

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