Update 8/9: In a statement to Reuters, Apple denied any price-fixing in Russia, claiming that resellers set their own prices:
“Resellers set their own prices for the Apple products they sell in Russia and around the world,” the company said.
Apple is once again being targeted for alleged price-fixing, this time in Russia. The country’s federal antitrust body has today opened a case and investigation into accusations that Apple and 16 resellers formed an agreement to fix prices of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
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In a statement, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Services explained that the issue was first brought to light by a citizen. The citizen apparently informed Russian officials that the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus carried the same price tag across 16 resellers, suggesting that Apple and the resellers had colluded to set such prices.
“The Anti-Monopoly Service sees signs of price-fixing violations in the Russian Federation at Apple iPhone resellers, which resulted in the same prices for these smartphones,” the federal antitrust body said in a statement (via Reuters).
Apple and the majority of the 16 accused resellers have not yet commented on the accusations. Euroset, Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer, however, denied the accusations that it had coordinated with Apple to set prices of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple hasn’t had the best relationship with partners in Russia throughout the iPhone’s lifetime, either. In 2012, Russian carrier MTS accused Apple of running a “dictatorship” when it came to selling the iPhone. “They’re more in a dictatorship mode where they say, ‘This is what you have to do or you don’t get the iPhone,’” MTS Vice President of Marketing Vasyl Latsanych said at the time. “Being arrogant with your partners in big markets doesn’t pay off.” Recently, however, it has been rumored that Apple is looking to open a central center for iOS device repair in Russia after accusations that the company does not adequately support customers in the country.
In the United States, Apple was of course the target of a price-fixing scheme relating to the iBooks Store. The case accused Apple of working with publishers to artificially raise the price of ebooks. The settlement saw Apple pay out over $400 million.
It’s currently unclear what kind of fines and punishment Apple could be facing in Russia if it is indeed found guilty of price-fixing. The company hasn’t yet commented on the accusations, though.