An authorized reseller in France has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging unfair competition, mirroring complaints by United States resellers that Apple favors its own retail stores over resellers when it ships new products. As reported by Le Figaro (sub.), eBizcuss CEO François Prudent says his 16 locations in France suffered a 30 percent decline in business during the third quarter of 2011 after the supply of iPad 2 and MacBook Air laptops from Apple dried up. In the fourth quarter, his company could not obtain a supply of the iPhone 4s, Prudent said. He traced the product shortage began to November 2009 when the Carousel del Louvre Apple store opened in Paris, the country’s first. He said eBizcuss has upgraded its stores in response to Apple’s retail foray into France, spending $6.5 million on the stores. “Since 2007, we revamped our point-of-sale system at the request of Apple to meet Apple’s criteria.” Prudent alleges that Apple is soliciting his business customers directly, taking revenue away from the reseller. “The proposals submitted to Apple commercial enterprises are lower than prices at which we buy the equipment,” Prudent claims. Prudent says he’s a long-time Apple supporter, and was one of the first importers of the Apple ][ personal computer in 1977.
In 2003—two years after Apple opened its first retail store—a northern California reseller filed a federal lawsuit alleging Apple failed to “reasonably provide merchandise, goods, services and support” that the reseller sold. Tom Santos had been selling Apple products for 15 years through his MACAdam retail store, but said after Apple’s own stores began opening the San Francisco area, he experienced product supply shortages and warranty reimbursement denials. Santos also claimed Apple supplied used parts for warranty repairs, but claimed the parts were new and charged MACAdam a higher price.
Another reseller, MacSolutions Inc., also filed a lawsuit over similar issues in January 2006. That lawsuit was settled the next year.