If you like paying MSRP, then Tesla/Apple is for you

The next time you’re in an Apple store, try this.

When one of the product geniuses who work there approaches you, ask him or her, “So, how much below list price are you offering this iPhone 5 for this month?”

The answer will tell you why I roll my eyes at the suggestion that Tesla’s fight against the franchised dealer system is all about aiding consumers.

You know what I mean. Every article about the Tesla-dealers confrontation over the franchised dealership system draws comments about how dealers are out to gouge car buyers. Some add that Tesla’s direct-sales approach will be a far better deal for the average consumer.

Oh, really?

I’m not going to defend all aspects of the state laws protecting franchised auto dealers. But if the issue is the cost to the consumer, there is no reason to believe that Tesla’s factory-owned stores will be any more aggressive in discounting prices than Apple’s.

At Tesla stores, it won’t be MSRP -- manufacturer’s suggested retail price. It’ll be MMRP -- manufacturer’s mandated retail price.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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