If you have purchased contact lenses recently, you may have noticed the price has gone up, and you may also be shoehorned into buying a package containing double or triple the number of lenses that you were accustomed to buying. Contact lens manufacturers have also gone on the warpath against internet discounters, imposing a mandatory minimum price or refusing to provide product. These sales and marketing tactics were exposed during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2014.
Some Internet discounters, such as Vision Direct, are now posting this language on websites:
“This contact lens product is regulated under a manufacturer Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP). What this means is that the lens manufacturer has set a minimum price this item can be sold for. As a result of this policy, we cannot offer any price discounts or incentives if we price at the minimum price allowed. Due to UPP we cannot offer price matching on a Lowest Price marked product as our price is set to the lowest allowed by the manufacturer.”
As one blog that follows antitrust matters recently wrote: “The four major contact lens manufacturers have begun introducing uniform pricing policies that establish floor prices for their lenses and drop any retailer that sells their lenses more cheaply. And unfortunately, there may be very little that antitrust can do about it.”
Read more at the Anant, I Trust blog
And read Johnson and Johnson’s letter to “Eye Care Professionals” explaining the new uniform pricing policy and also its decision to force consumers to buy larger boxes of lenses. A Johnson and Johnson subsidiary manufactures Acuvue brand contact lenses.