What happens when a seller violates your minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy? If the answer is “nothing,” you may as well not even have a MAP policy. It’s like having a 20-minute parking sign without a parking attendant. Once people find out there’s no penalty for staying longer, they’ll violate that “policy” all the time.
Assuming you’ve defined clear penalties for MAP pricing violations, and you have a good system for tracking them, the next step is writing an effective MAP policy violation letter.
Your pricing policy is a vital part of your relationship with your retail partners. It protects your brand’s integrity by stabilizing the valid price of your products. It protects your retailers’ margins by ensuring no one has to sell at cost to stay competitive. And it protects consumers from counterfeit sellers by making them easier to spot.
But it only works that way if you actually monitor and enforce your pricing policy. If there aren’t any consequences for not following your policy, the worst violators will lead even your best retail partners astray — because they’ll have to violate your policy to compete. Sending MAP policy violation letters will help curb this behavior and begin the MAP enforcement process.
So what do you actually say when a reseller abuses your pricing policy? We’re going to give you a template for a MAP policy violation letter, then we’ll talk through how to handle appeals and follow-up messages — because you’re going to get them. And whether you’re talking to an entry-level employee at a mom-and-pop shop or the CEO of a major store, you have to treat every reseller the same.
MAP policy violation letter template
When it comes to telling resellers about MAP policy violations, remember: less is more, and keep it professional. Avoid the temptation to personalize your email, even if you have a good relationship with the person who’s going to read it.
This is a transactional, legal communication from one company to another. So address your email to the reseller, not to a person.
You don’t have to tell them every SKU they’ve violated—just give them a few, tell them how many days they have to correct the issue, and let them know what you’ll do if they don’t comply. And definitely, don’t ask them to reply in any way. That’s just inviting them to argue—which you should not respond to.
Here’s what your MAP violation email might say:
Dear [Retailer’s name],
You are in violation of our MAP policy for the following SKUs:
- [SKU number]
Please correct these issues within 48 hours. Failure to comply will result in a strike, [additional temporary consequence, such as not being able to purchase your product, or being put on the no-sell list], and immediate legal action.
Writing a MAP policy violation letter is the easy part. Once you start sending these out, you need to be prepared for a range of responses from sellers of all shapes and sizes.
Establish a system for handling appeals and follow-up
Odds are you have much better relationships with some resellers than others. But legally, you have to treat all of them the same. Showing favoritism of any kind can get you into trouble later. Even if that “favoritism” is simply a courteous response to a follow-up message or a slightly different way of handling an appeal.
When you notify a reseller that they’ve violated your policy, they’re bound to have an excuse. Someone else did it first. It was an automated process or a simple mistake.
Or maybe it was your fault. Mistakes happen. Maybe your system registered a false positive because someone on your end forgot to update the price, enter your promotional minimum advertised price (PMAP) for Black Friday, or a SKU is no longer under your MAP policy and someone forgot to remove it from the system.
You need to have a formal, written process to determine how you’re going to deal with follow-ups and appeals, so that your MAP admin can consistently enforce your policy.
The simplest solution? Direct all follow-up and appeals to your legal counsel. That’s almost always going to be the correct channel.
Once a reseller violates your MAP policy, they’ve already broken a legally-binding agreement and triggered a legal process. Your email notifying them that they’ve violated your policy is simply acknowledging that they’ve initiated this legal process.
The most important thing is that you do not engage in follow-up conversations. Even if a reseller you have a strong professional relationship with brings up valid points, you must direct the conversation to legal counsel. In this circumstance, that’s simply keeping things professional. Good resellers will resolve things amicably, and your professional relationship will go on its merry way.
Whatever your plan, you have to execute it consistently.
Protect your price
Your MAP policy is about protecting the value of your product, and it impacts you, your resellers, and your customers. Without a MAP policy — or any enforcement of it — your brand’s hard-earned integrity will rapidly deteriorate along with your price.
Thankfully, powerful MAP monitoring tools like Prowl make it easy to track and act on MAP violations. Instead of you having to manually investigate every SKU, our crawling technology will automatically pull pricing everywhere your products appear, so all you have to do is decide how and when to respond.