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Total Wine Claims Victory In Massachusetts Pricing Suit

July 27, 2017

Massachusetts judge Robert B. Gordon has sided with Total Wine & More in the retailer’s suit over spirits pricing against the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Gordon ruled that alcohol retailers like Total Wine may pass on bulk discounts to consumers.

In January, Total Wine’s Massachusetts licenses were suspended by the ABCC for allegedly selling liquor below cost. The retailer claimed that the ABCC was ignoring bulk discounts the company was set to receive from wholesalers once the retailer ordered sufficient quantities of liquors, effectively misinterpreting the true cost of the goods. In his decision, Gordon wrote “there was clearly no predatory pricing carried out in this case” and these types of discounts are what “the law should promote rather than punish.” In a statement, Total called the decision “a victory for consumers and a validation of Total Wine & More’s commitment to lawfully provide consumers access to the best values possible on the products we carry Massachusetts.”

However, Judge Gordon did not rule on Total Wine’s argument that the Massachusetts price floor violates U.S. anti-trust laws. Retailers are still prohibited from selling liquor below cost in the state. Total Wine’s victory merely allows companies to more accurately adjust prices based on volume discounts. According to the Boston Globe, the ABCC has not decided whether to appeal. —Shane English

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