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Best-price Guarantees as a Quality Signal

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  • Stephan, Levy

Abstract

This paper shows that best-price guarantees can enhance welfare, in contrast to findings in recent literature. While a high-quality monopolist can signal its quality strictly through high prices, using both price and a best-price guarantee may allow the firm to signal its quality with a smaller price distortion. A low-quality monopolist will not mimic its high-quality counterpart by offering a best-price guarantee, because the accompanying restrictions are too costly. Best-price guarantees are similar to money-back guarantees and other more general contracts in their ability to allow less costly signaling. The welfare enhancing capabilities of these contracts imply that the antitrust authorities should regard them more favorably.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13466/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 13466.

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Date of creation: 02 Nov 2004
Date of revision: 02 Nov 2004
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13466

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Related research

Keywords: Most favored customer; MFCC; best-price guarantees; signaling; game theory; industrial organization;

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References

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  1. Coase, Ronald H, 1972. "Durability and Monopoly," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 143-49, April.
  2. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  3. William S. Neilson & Harold Winter, 1993. "Bilateral Most-Favored-Customer Pricing and Collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 147-155, Spring.
  4. Kyle Bagwell, 1990. "Optimal Export Policy for a New-Product Monopoly," Discussion Papers 898, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
  6. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  7. Crocker, Keith J & Lyon, Thomas P, 1994. "What do Facilitating Practices Facilitate? An Empirical Investigation of Most-Favored-Nation Clauses in Natural Gas Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 297-322, October.
  8. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  9. Shiou Shieh, 1996. "Price and Money-Back Guarantees as Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 361-377, 09.
  10. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  11. Butz, David A, 1990. "Durable-Good Monopoly and Best-Price Provisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1062-76, December.
  12. Riordan, Michael H, 1986. "Monopolistic Competition with Experience Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 265-79, May.
  13. Thomas E. Cooper, 1986. "Most-Favored-Customer Pricing and Tacit Collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 377-388, Autumn.
  14. Besanko, David & Lyon, Thomas P., 1993. "Equilibrium incentives for most-favored customer clauses in an oligopolistic industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 347-367, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2002. "Exploiting Future Settlements: A Signalling Model of Most-Favored-Nation Clauses In Settlement Bargaining," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0221, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Oct 2002.
  2. Spier, Kathryn E., 2001. "The Use of “Most-Favored-Nation†Clauses in Settlement of Litigation," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt7hm4d39g, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.

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