Zhiqi Chen and Thomas W. Ross

Refusals to Deal, Price Discrimination, and Independent Service Organizations

A number of recent Canadian and U.S. antitrust cases have involved allegations that manufacturers of durable products have refused to supply parts to independent service organizations, apparently to monopolize the market for repairs of their products. This paper provides a theory of these strategies and considers the welfare implications of judicial orders to supply. The refusals here are seen as necessary to protect manufacturers’ program of price discrimination: Expensive repairs represent a way to select high-intensity, high-value users and charge them more. In addition to the usual ambiguity associated with the welfare effects of prohibitions of price discrimination, forcing competition in repairs can have the further damaging effect of reducing social welfare by inducing manufacturers to lower product quality.