Funny you should ask. This area is of some interest to big manufacturers and consumer groups. The short answer is no, in most cases a manufacturer may not dictate the selling price a retailer chooses to charge to we the humble consumers. I’m not at work or at home today, so I’m not gonna find the case cites, but this is fairly well established in antitrust law…
The fun part is that of course they can do something about it. When Amalgamated Widget (or whoever) gets a seriously hot product, retailers want more units than are available. Amalgamated gets to choose how to allocate product, and quelle surprise when the retailers who play ball get the best allocations. Manufacturers also have bazillions to spend on “co-op advertising,” where the Mfg. shares advertising costs with the retailer. Guess who gets that deal?
The flip side occurs when Amalgamated makes a serious mistake and overproduces. Then they tend to price the product at a “just make them go away” kind of level. Again, the product goes to the retailers who know how the system works. When you go to one of the “We Can’t Tell You” places, you’ll likely find gobs and gobs of product that were made last year, or in the wrong color, or weird sizes, or whatever. Or even worse, “seconds” as mr john points out.
There is a category of retailer that specializes in picking up overruns and seconds and selling them to you. Oftentimes, the retailer will not be an authorized distributor for the manufacturer, in which case they really can’t tell you. But know that you’re not gonna find this year’s hot product there. And if the product is defective, don’t bother calling the maker with a complaint. They sold it to some middleman without warranty.
From the retailer’s point of view, you and Nickrz have it exactly right. They are crassly appealing to your sense of curiosity, which curiosity comes from your hope to get away with something you shouldn’t be.
Then there’s handy’s problem, which also occurs with startling regularity, but at least the manufacturer isn’t complicit.
This is not an offer to agree or disagree with opinions, which may be done only by a current prospectus.