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Herman Miller Sued Over Aeron Pricing Practices

Monday 24 March 2008

Dow Jones News Service reported Monday that state attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Michigan have sued Herman Miller Inc. over alleged anticompetitive conduct designed to boost the price of its Aeron ergonomic chairs.
A lawsuit, filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleges that the Zeeland, Mich., office furniture maker, through its Herman Miller for the Home division, engaged in a scheme to \"unlawfully stabilize and artificially raise retail prices and retail price levels and to reduce retail price competition\" for its Aeron chairs.

Herman Miller allegedly used a suggested retail price policy under which Herman Miller for the Home retailers had to agree not to advertise below its dictated prices for Aeron chairs in any medium where prices can be seen by consumers, according to the complaint.

\"As a result of these anticompetitive practices, consumers were denied the benefits of unrestrained price competition on the Aeron chairs and Aeron prices to consumers were raised above their competitive levels,\" the lawsuit said. The lawsuit alleges that Herman Miller implemented the minimum pricing program in January 2002 in response to complaints by some Herman Miller retailers about pricing discounts by other Herman Miller retailers.

\"Any retailer that advertised below HMH\'s suggested retail price would be terminated or lose access to HMH product for one year,\" the lawsuit said. A Herman Miller spokeswoman didn\'t immediately return a phone call seeking comment late Monday.

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