Are price-matching guarantees anticompetitive? This paper examines the incentives for price-matching guarantees in markets where information about prices is costly. Under some conditions the conventional explanation of price-matching announcements as facilitating collusion finds support, and is even strengthened. But our model provides an additional explanation for the practice. A price-matching guarantee may be a credible and easily understood means of communicating to uninformed consumers that a firm is low-priced. The credibility of the signal to uninformed consumers is assured by the behaviour of informed consumers. We contrast the testable implications of our model with those of the anticompetitive theories and discuss supportive evidence from an illustrative sample of retailers.
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