This ought to surprise no one who’s shopped for baby stuff in the last several years – a federal lawsuit recently given class-action status in Philadelphia charges that the mega-retailer Babies R Us forced manufacturers and distributors of high-end baby goods to essentially fix prices on their products.
The suit alleges that BRU told manufacturers to require that retailers sold their products at a certain price, and if the online retailers balked, the companies were to cut off supply. If they didn’t, BRU would stop selling them.
Companies named in the suit are Medela, Maclaren, Baby Björn, Peg Perego, and Britax.
Because Babies R Us accounted for up to half of these companies’ business, they complied, according to the suit.
Way back five years ago, I registered at two places, Target and Babies R Us. Generally, Target is a few bucks cheaper than specialty stores for just about anything, but I noticed that most things cost exactly the same. Same when I did a little poking around online to see if I could get a deal somewhere. Nope, all the big things seemed to cost the same. Which meant that even looking for things used wasn’t all that helpful. At best, eBay and the like saved a few dollars after shipping, because everybody was trying to chase a deal on the more high end things.
This doesn’t surprise me, but it does piss me off. For what’s worth, I have found a Maclaren stroller and lots of high end toys at TJ Maxx for lots less than they sell for at BRU, as long as you don’t care that it’s last year’s model or a less than premium color. And January is clearance time for baby gear – I scored the stroller we’ve used constantly for my son in January for like half of what I would have spent on it otherwise. Although I’m well past the stage of buying baby gear, I will be watching this suit closely, though, and I fully intend to take advantage of whatever they offer as a settlement. Because it’s just plain not fair to corner the market on the best stuff.