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Nikon Switzerland investigated for antitrust practices

Update: Nikon confirmed the investigation.

This just in: Associated Press reports that Nikon AG in Switzerland (subsidiary of Nikon Corp. in Japan) has been investigated for "preventing other companies from importing some of its photography products."

Read the whole story here.

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  • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

    From what I’ve heard – Sounds like Nikon/Nikkor Spain is the same.

    • twoomy

      Doesn’t it sound like every other country’s Nikon subsidiary would be in the same boat? No Nikon company likes “gray market” versions coming into their country.

      • PHB

        No, the current interpretation of EU law is that the trademark owner has the right to control sale of the goods. This is something that a lot of people have complained about, but the French-Italian fashion houses won their case against grey market imports.

        Switzerland is not in the EU, but the suit may well spur action in other EU countries. It is quite possible that a trademark owner has rights that may be unenforceable due to anti-trust law.

        • GlobalGuy

          Its idiotic, because Nikon is not an industry. It cannot make anti-trust by simply controlling the flow of its own products. It may have high prices, but it is in no way creating a monopoly. Competitors sell products which are so similar to Nikons that in fact Nikon those competitors will have a better chance of selling the higher Nikon’s prices are, if their quality is similarly good.

          I believe that these Swiss just want specific products to be cheaper and are taking advantage of the nature of distribution branches. That’s an idiotic use of the law. Nikon is a manufacturer and has a right to price their products as they see fit and negotiate with and even block vendors who abuse the margins they set for given territories.

          Now, if Nikon is stopping global free trade, that is a completely separate issue. The fact is quite simple that they are not making a monopoly of any industry. And to whom they sell their products is, quite literally, their own business.

          • http://josephthomas.org Joe

            Yeah, this confused me. It seems like Nikon has many direct competitors in the 35 millimeter realm, and other indirect competitors in medium format and large format realms too. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what the Swiss government’s reasoning was.

      • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

        That’s true.

        But I’ve not heard of any issues with WorldWide warranties not being honoured in the UK as I have with Spain.

        The story above give 0 info on details though.

    • ArtTwisted

      Certainly is, gray market isint loved in north america either.

      • Lucky

        Luckily gray market imports are protected by law in Australia. You can’t punish a distributor if they also import from Asia.

  • Anonymous

    i guess no d700x this year

    • Jesus_sti

      and ? What is the relation with that rumors?

      • Anonymous

        are you waiting for one too?

        • Jesus_sti

          nope I’m waiting for D4… but d3s still interresting

          • low

            copy that!

    • The invisible man

      How do you know ?
      No one have any clue of what will be release or not by Nikon this year (except the 3S DSLR).
      Closer we are getting to the Photokina, more chances there is that Nikon will not release new products before the event.
      Again, nobody know, I wish the D700x/D800/D900 would be available before my vacations in June (if thoses bodies ever get announced).

  • http://helmuts.smugmug.com Helmut_S

    I think the consumer wins if this becomes more common. In some countries the Nikon-ordained official importer simply milks their monopoly for all its worth, for instance by refusing repairs. There’s really no other sector of merchandise that gets away with this. It’s protectionism, pure and simple.

    • Jesus_sti

      Yeap but they have the control for how sell nikon stock. Every nikon seller (official) need to have (at least) one d3x, d3 and the prime lense (for serve the nikon pro)

    • http://micahmedia.com Micah

      Agreed. Nikon’s weird import/export practices are dated and don’t benefit the consumer OR Nikon Jp.

  • alouette
  • Anonymous

    This explains why Nikon is bloody expensive!

    • Chris P

      Regarding price; as far as the UK is concerned Nikon equipment prices are roughly comparable with US prices after allowing for import duties and VAT. Canon equipment prices in the UK are some 15-20% higher than the US prices after making the same allowance for duties and VAT. So if anyone is ripping off the UK consumer it’s Canon not Nikon.

      • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

        Adobe is much much worse.

      • another anonymous

        I bought som gear in UK in 2008 and the prices were minimum of 1/4 higher than in US. I didn’t look at them now, but also didn’t hear from anybody that there were price decrease in UK or increase in US. Can you please give more information? It would be very helpful.
        Thanks
        aa

        • Zoetmb

          Yes, well VAT accounts for 17.5% of that difference. (I was going to say that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because income taxes are lower in the UK, but I see that they’re not: income over GBP 37,400 is taxed at 40% (except dividend income is taxed at 32.5%). The combination of income and VAT tax is pretty high as compared to what most people have to pay in the U.S.

          And due to higher corporate taxes in the UK as compared with the US, prices have always been higher on all types of goods. Even 20-30 years ago, the only thing that seemed to me (as a U.S. resident) to be a good deal in the UK was shoes.

  • http://www.danielcanoott.com Daniel

    We do suffer a similar problem here in Spain. Finicon (Nikon Spain) does also run the Nikon technical service in Spain. The DO NOT accept Nikon products with European warranty for reparation if they were NOT IMPORTED by THEM (Finicon warranty). It is an abusive practice and Nikon Japan has been informed about it. Unfortunately, Nikon Japan doesn’t seem to care about it!
    You can verify the correctness of this info in several webpages:
    http://www.sergiodelatorre.com/blog/firmasfinicon/
    http://www.ojodigital.com/foro/shopping-tiendas-fotografia/313433-garantia-europea-vs-finicon.html

    It is unacceptable that the Nikon customers are treated so unrespectfully.

    • Banned

      Welcome to the real world. It’s the same in the US. They won’t repair a non-US camera.

      • http://www.juandiegojr.com juandiegojr

        At least in USA you have a great repair service…

      • The invisible man

        Why would you buy an after market camera to save only few bucks.
        And if you’re buying a USA lens you get 4 more years warranty !
        I never bought an after market Nikon gear.

        • Lucky

          So you wouldn’t take a 40% discount?

        • http://www.dafyddowen.com Daf

          When I bought my 1st DSLR (D70) :
          UK – £1000
          Malaysia – £600

          40% not to be laughed at!
          (Dad worked in Malaysia so he bought it and brought it over in person)

  • NikoDoby

    Nikon sent Ninjas to kick some Swedish grey market butt! Nice :)

    • Isak

      When did Sweden invade Switzerland?

      I take it you are American :)

      • http://www.izedin.ch Izedin.ch

        i’m sure he is ;-) i’m swiss and i’ve been in the US and they always mixed up sweden and switzerland…haha

        • Banned

          LOL I’m in the US and I’ve never heard someone make that confusion. But who knows people can be pretty retarded here. One day at the supermarket this kid was like “no mom I didn’t hit my brother, I’m like Switzerland I’m NEUTRAL”. At least they got that one right!

          • NikoDoby

            Sorry guys I got so excited with the idea of Nikon Ninjas attacking on all fronts I had them invade the wrong country :) Me so sorry!

            But I’m sure there are Swedish Nikon Ninjas running around too :)

  • Recent Convert

    Switzerland (not Sweden) is a high-price island. The Economist regards the Swiss Franc’s purchasing power parity at 42% lower than the exchange rate suggests. Nikon-prices in Swiss shops reflect that. Nowhere (except may-be in Japan) is the temptation as large as in Switzerland to circumvent the local importer. 35 years ago, I did just that by buying a whole Konica AR set in neighboring Germany, getting the VAT refunded, and saving 20% over the Swiss pricing.

    • NikoDoby

      Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, but who has the hotter girls? The Sweden or the Swiss Confederation?

      • Mikael

        We do :)

  • PhotonFisher

    Why worry? I’ve purchased a D700 having a Dutch service warranty at a Swiss retailer. When I had a problem, I went to Nikon CH and the warranty was accepted – no questions whatsoever. The warranty statement is globally applicable.

    Practically: the retailers and web-shops are 20% below the established shops. If you negotiate prices you can almost close the gap. As a customer you have that choice – make use of it.

    • Recent Convert

      Well, that’s no longer applicable – I’ve live in Canada for the last 30 years . . .

  • Louis Rosenthal

    haha! wow ok so I live in switzerland so for the americans amongst you i may clarify something:

    –>Switzerland heavily frowns upon companies that a ) do something like compare products in a commercial (ie. “95% of consumers say colgate is more effective than crest”), making their own product look good, or b ) are or attempt to become a monopoly —> when Migros (LARGE supermarket store chain) bought up Denner (substantial supermarket chain), the monopoly commission had to give the OK for the deal to go through.

    anyhow, Switzerland usually has the best prices europe-wide concerning electronics.

  • Habitak

    A dutch warranty is normal in switzerland. That has every Nikon camera here. You need a bill for repair with the warranty card and I’ve heard they can figure out with the serial number if it is a “swiss” cam or imported. That they don’t like imported ware is known since years and is nothing new. Some shops are more expensive but some NPS stores are very cheap. You have diefferences between 1500-2000 SFr for a D3s.

  • alex

    this site is about nikon news or nikon rumors?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/friedtoast/ Fried Toast

      It’s a rumor about a supposedly legal action against Nikon in Switzerland :P

      If you don’t like it, move on. Took more time to post that little “waah” than it would’ve taken for you to’ve ignored it.

    • GlobalGuy

      Do you have any rumor to add or useful to say? Or are you just complaining?

      Maybe you should go to NikonianComplainers.com

      Admin already let us know that there are no new rumors at this time and that he isn’t going to lie just to fill space. The news is appreciated in between rumors.

  • bogologo

    little example about swiss pricing. i currently looking at to buy a 70 – 200 2.8 VRII
    so here are some countries and their prices: (all currency converted with oanda.com)

    in switzerland (toppreise.ch) CHF 2’662 = USD 2,492
    in germany (from geizkragen.de) EUR 1.978,99 = USD 2’643
    in austria (from preissuchmaschine.at) EUR 1.997 = USD 2’668
    in uk (from uk.shopping.com) GBP 1635 = USD 2,440
    in usa (pricegrabber.com) USD 2’249

    to conclude:
    i am not surprised that it’s a bit cheaper in the usa. the uk price is surprising, but it is due to the most recent weakness of the pound. two years ago this would have been over 3’000 USD!!!
    switzerland is clearly better off compared to most places in europe.
    cheers.
    p.s. i do not know if i took always the best comparison site available. i know that for switzerland it’s toppreise and with geizkragen in germany i am pretty close to get the best results.

    • litebyte

      Switzerland is: but check Canon and other brands and you will be a bit surprised.

    • http://sdickinson.com Sam

      And then look at Australia (Nikon official dealer)… AUD 3239 = USD 2915.1

      /sigh

      • Annatar

        I hear you!

      • Tim

        South Africa too. (Orms) = ZAR 23,495 = US$ 3,160.
        And our rand is reasonably strong at the moment.
        Even if I fully import the thing, pay courier charges, VAT, duty and get the Nikon USA version with a Worldwide Waranty I’m paying ZAR 20,864.
        That’s a saving of over US$ 350! So why on earth would you want to buy a product from Nikon RSA (Foto Distributors)? With all the correct paperwork they are still obliged to repair the thing.

    • Recent Convert

      Good research, but it neglects to mention that export from Austria or Germany reduces the prices by the 19% VAT. The Swiss VAT gets added back on, but it is only (afaik) 6%. Which makles the gray import lucrative.

      • Hey-nonny-mouse

        7.5%

    • another anonymous

      Thank you very much for helpful UK vs. US prices explanation, I didn’t know most recent status.

  • isak

    Prisjakt always finds the cheapest prices in sweden:

    in Sweden (http://www.prisjakt.nu/produkt.php?p=465055) SEK 22397 = USD 3’074

    That’s the way it goes when you have a strong currency

    • Mikael

      It has much more to do with high sales taxes and a low purchasing power parity than it has to do with a strong currency.

  • Anonymous

    Where is my 24mm 1.4???

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/friedtoast/ Fried Toast

      Did you lose it?

  • scalesusa

    Back in the 1960′s, US Customs enforced Canon and Nikon’s rules about no gray market imports. It was somewhat a farce that later went away.

    At the time, a person could not import a Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc from Hongkong except by removing or painting out the name badge. Of course, the dealer sent you a new badge to apply in a separate letter.

    Savings were huge, as I recall, 30% -50% off.

  • Annatar

    The Swiss case will certainly be viewed with interest. I’ve been Nikon a user all my life and I’ve enjoyed using their fantastic products over the years but Nikon Australia is blatantly keeping their prices artificially inflated even though the Australian dollar in recent times is pushing parity with the $US. I think it’s almost criminal to rip consumers off by applying this sort of business practice as it does nothing for the genuine Nikon sellers in Australia when grey market imports can be legally imported at significantly lower prices. Having a “genuine” Nikon warranty for 1 or 2 years isn’t enough to justify a price difference of 25% or greater than grey market imports, in my honest opinion. And simply not honouring warranty claims for these products isn’t stopping consumers from purchasing from overseas, thus hurting local businesses. Wake up, Nikon, and please stop your futile practices now.

    • another anonymous

      +1 and also across all European countries and simply everywhere

  • lensmatter

    Gray or not, still the same product made by the same company.

    • Annatar

      My point exactly…

  • lensmatter

    Make that Grey.

  • Ronan

    GUYS! It’s Switzerland. Relax… they do it ‘differently’ there.

  • swissman

    I don’t think we’ll do it differently here.
    Nikon Switzerland is being investigated for impeding parallel dealer imports
    of their products in order to maintain higher street prices and to restrict discounters.
    A similar case was prosecuted by the WEKO (swiss anti-trust auhorities) in December 2009 against toothpaste manuafacturer Gaba International (Elmex und Meridol) resulting in a CHF 4.8 Mio. fine.

  • Rasho
  • Zwede

    I don’t really see the big deal. Each Nikon country organisation is running it’s own P&L. The sale of any equipment includes a portion that goes into the warranty fund, to fund repairs of equipment sold. When someone gray imports equipment no such contribution is made to that countries funds.
    If you want the lower price of gray imports, you have to accept that in order to get repairs you have to send your equipment to Japan or wherever they handle the world wide warranty repairs. If you ran a business you’d do the same.

    • Hey-nonny-mouse

      … but even if it’s not under warranty they might refuse to repair it at the owner’s expense. That’s got nothing to do with funding warranty claims and everything to do with them maintaining their mark up. Very dubious, practice if you ask me.

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