Why TVs cost pretty much the same at every store and online

Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

If you have tried to buy a new tv Lately, you may have noticed that prices are generally the same for every model of TV, regardless of which store or online vendor sells it. That is not a coincidence now an accident. It’s called UPP, or one-sided pricing policy, and it’s how manufacturers force retailers to stick to specific prices. That means there won’t be as many crazy discounts, no random deals on popular models, and very little (let’s be honest) price competition. There are many exceptions, of course, and not all stores adhere to UPP, but most major retailers do.

Surprisingly, this is legal. Read on for more information.

Why TVs Cost the Same Everywhere

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Brett Pearce / CNET

UPP is not new. Apple and Bose have been doing it for years, and more recently Samsung, LG, Sony, and other TV makers have been doing it with TVs. What this means is that if you’re buying a new TV, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and your local electronics chain will likely sell it for the same price. Save gas, or more likely your clicks, by comparing different prices from store to store.

How is this legal? Good question. My attorney skills are limited to a class I slept with mostly in college plus some Law & Order reruns, but here’s what I found: While outright pricing is illegal, a company may do business (or not) with whomever it chooses. So when a company says, “The UPP on this television is $ 1,000,” what it is really saying is, “If you charge less than $ 1,000 for this television, we may stop shipping televisions to you.”

In other words, If you mention extortion again, I’ll break your legs.

What's happening

Geoffrey Morrison / CNET

Sneaky, right? So if Sam’s Screen Shack wants to sell a Genuine Panaphonics TV can’t get people in the door, it’s absolutely possible. However, Panaphonics may choose to cut ties with the store.

The beauty of this is that TV companies can’t push specific prices, just to imply a threat if prices are not followed. An explicit threat would be pricing, an implicit threat is UPP. Hurrah!

Manufacturers claim that UPP protects their distributors, and in a way that’s true. For example, BuyCheapTVsNowLOLZ.com probably doesn’t have a store that you can return to or staff that you can complain to. I’m sure Best Buy and the like probably don’t have a problem with UPP because it allows them to charge a price that makes them a profit. That profit then supports physical locations and staff, as well as reducing instances of “showrooming,” where customers watch a television in a store, then buy it online.

Amazon was less enthusiastic about the idea when it first started popping up. Ben Hartman, Vice President of Consumer Electronics at Amazon, was interviewed about UPP for Twice magazine in 2013.

“We believe in offering the best possible value to our customers and we want Amazon to be the place they trust to find competitive prices. We also believe that it is in the long-term interest of manufacturers to focus on providing a fair and transparent shopping experience. that best meets customers’ needs. We do not believe that price controls are in the best interests of customers or support innovation. In either case, Amazon will always set its retail prices independently. ”

Bottom line

The good news is that there are plenty of great, inexpensive TVs out there. The price / image quality ratio has never been better. However, big discounts on televisions during the holiday shopping season are generally limited to specific unique televisions from a certain store.

But don’t lose sight of sales. UPP does not mean that TVs will never go on sale, only that if there is a sale in one store, the same price drop is likely to occur in other stores.


In addition to covering television and other display technologies, Geoff takes photo tours of cool museums and places around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips, and more. Take a look at Tech Treks for all their tours and adventures.

Wrote a best-selling science fiction novel about city-sized submarines, along with a continuation. You can follow their adventures in Instagram and his Youtube Channel.

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