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Price Guarantees, Consumer Search, and Hassle Costs

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  • Pio Baake
  • Ulrich Schwalbe

Abstract

The paper deals with the competitive effects of price guarantees in a spatial duopoly where consumers can search for lower prices but have to incur hassle costs if they want to claim a price guarantee. It is shown that symmetric equilibria with and without price guarantees exist but price guarantees will have no effect on prices if search costs are low, hassle costs are high and the number of uninformed consumers is small. However, when both firms use price guarantees, there also exist payoff-dominant equilibria where both firms use mixed pricing strategies in the form of "high-low" pricing schemes, provided that the search costs are sufficiently high.

Suggested Citation

  • Pio Baake & Ulrich Schwalbe, 2013. "Price Guarantees, Consumer Search, and Hassle Costs," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1335, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1335
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arbatskaya, Maria & Hviid, Morten & Shaffer, Greg, 2004. "On the Incidence and Variety of Low-Price Guarantees," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 307-332, April.
    2. Maarten Janssen & Alexei Parakhonyak, 2009. "Minimum Price Guarantees In a Consumer Search Model," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-089/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    3. Baye, Michael R. & Kovenock, Dan, 1994. "How to sell a pickup truck : 'Beat-or-pay' advertisements as facilitating devices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 21-33, March.
    4. Subhasish Dugar, 2007. "Price-Matching Guarantees and Equilibrium Selection in a Homogenous Product Market: An Experimental Study," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 30(2), pages 107-119, March.
    5. Edlin, Aaron S. & Emch, Eric R., 1999. "The Welfare Losses from Price-Matching Policies," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt43b7w47c, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    6. Partha Dasgupta & Eric Maskin, 1986. "The Existence of Equilibrium in Discontinuous Economic Games, I: Theory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(1), pages 1-26.
    7. Arbatskaya, Maria & Hviid, Morten & Shaffer, Greg, 2006. "On the use of low-price guarantees to discourage price cutting," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1139-1156, November.
    8. Edlin, Aaron S & Emch, Eric R, 1999. "The Welfare Losses from Price-Matching Policies," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 145-167, June.
    9. Mago, Shakun Datta & Pate, Jennifer G., 2009. "An experimental examination of competitor-based price matching guarantees," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 342-360, May.
    10. Enrique Fatás & Nikolaos Georgantzís & Juan A. Máñez & Gerardo Sabater, 2013. "Experimental duopolies under price guarantees," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 15-35, January.
    11. Morten Hviid & Greg Shaffer, 1999. "Hassle Costs: The Achilles' Heel of Price-Matching Guarantees," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(4), pages 489-521, December.
    12. Belton, Terrence M., 1987. "A model of duopoly and meeting or beating competition," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 399-417.
    13. Kaplan, Todd R., 2000. "Effective price-matching: a comment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(8), pages 1291-1294, December.
    14. Wen Mao, 2005. "Price-matching policy with imperfect information," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(6), pages 367-372.
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    16. Lu, Yuanzhu & Wright, Julian, 2010. "Tacit collusion with price-matching punishments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 298-306, May.
    17. Logan, John W. & Lutter, Randall W., 1989. "Guaranteed lowest prices: do they facilitate collusion?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 189-192, December.
    18. Morten Hviid & Greg Shaffer, 2012. "Optimal low-price guarantees with anchoring," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 393-417, December.
    19. Morten Hviid & Greg Shaffer, 2008. "Matching Own Prices, Rivals' Prices, or Both," Working Papers 08-26, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
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    Cited by:

    1. Budzinski Oliver & Köhler Karoline Henrike, 2015. "Is Amazon The Next Google?," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 263-288, January.
    2. Hamelmann, Lisa & Haucap, Justus & Wey, Christian, 2015. "Die wettbewerbsrechtliche Zulässigkeit von Meistbegünstigungsklauseln auf Buchungsplattformen am Beispiel von HRS," DICE Ordnungspolitische Perspektiven 72, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Price Matching Guarantees; Search Costs; Oligopoly Pricing;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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