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OFT set to investigate PC pricing

Dixons slams Government as Mandelson pushes for inquiry into retailer's prices

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Dixons yesterday lashed back against accusations it has a monopoly of high street PC sales by putting the blame on the Government's shoulders. The move came after Peter Mandelson, trade and industry secretary, became embroiled in the row over the retailer's prices. Dixons claimed that government VAT and duties charged on PCs and computer components were partly responsible for pushing up prices in the UK. But Mandelson has written to John Bridgeman, director general of fair trading, which should trigger an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) inquiry into retail PC prices. Mandelson's intervention came after both Intel and the OFT last week said Dixons' highly artificial prices were holding back UK PC sales. (see Consumers’ Association calls for investigation into Dixons). Dixons refused to comment on the trade and industry secretary's action, saying it had yet to receive a copy of the letter. However, a spokesman argued: "We believe we are contributing hugely to the aggressive price campaign in this country. All the evidence shows that PC prices are on the way down." The OFT has confirmed it will refer the issue to the Monopolies Commission if it finds any abuse of the electronic retailer's position. ®

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