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UK PC retailers don't rip off customers

Dixons in the clear

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Surprise, surprise, British computer retailers have been cleared of ripping off their customers. Brits pay more for their PCs because they buy higher spec machines than other Europeans, according to The Office of Fair Trading. This is not exactly a huge surprise. In March, someone in the know briefed the ST on what the result would be. After a ten-month investigation, the OFT has worked out that retailers - and more specifically Dixons Stores Group, are not making excessive profits. What took it so long? The case against Dixons had no merit then. And it has no merit now. The OFT enquiry was sparked off by an intervention by Peter Mandelson, the trade and industry secretary at the time. His interest was piqued by a ludicrous attack by Intel's Craig Barrett on Dixons, the UK's biggest computer retailer, at last year's Comdex. British PC sales were lower than in some other European territories because Dixons margins were too high, he claimed. A few weeks later Barrett was forced to eat humble pie - his grovelling letter of apology to Dixons somehow made its way to the press. Last summer, Fujitsu UK attacked Dixons prices, in a high-risk PR campaign. High-risk because Dixons is a litigious company. Several publications, more sedate than The Register, fell for the Dixons Rip-Off story. And several publications ended up apologising to the retailer. ® Related stories So are PC retailers responsible for 'Rip-off' Britain? Dixons cleared of overcharging

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