KenB - 11:37 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)
Just because you think something is the wrong approach doesn't make it so. The last I checked, we are supposed to be in a free market system. In a free market system different merchants are free to set whatever price they deem appropriate and the consumer will decide whom they'll buy their widgets from. The one thing our system has to protect consumers is a rule against price fixing. MAPs are a form of price fixing.
In a free market system there will be business models that will succeed and business models that will fail. MAPs may in fact be protecting bad business models that actually harm the consumer.
I don't always purchase from the cheapest vendor, in fact I frequently don't purchase from the cheapest vendor. However, I do see the cheapest vendors as an important part of the free market in that they force the other vendors to show extra value for the price they are asking.
Without the cut throat discounters other vendors get fat and lazy, thus the consumer pays too much and still gets substandard service. At least with cut throat pricing the consumer gets a cheap price to go along with the substandard service.