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Question Video Card Purchases and illegal tying.

Golgatha

Lifer
Jul 18, 2003
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Is anyone else is fed up with tying video card purchases to other hardware purchases as much as I am? The tied products do have a complimentary function, but they are also widely available and there's a competitive market for them (e.g. motherboards, power supplies, etc.). I'm sure there are more bad actors, but Newegg and their lottery system are purposefully skirting the law IMO. Also, recently I was at Micro Center in Overland Park, KS, and they had 3070 video cards in stock, but you couldn't purchase one without purchasing components for a full computer as well. At worst these types of practices are illegal and at best they are certainly anti-consumer.

IANAL, but am I wrong about tying of purchases in this manner being illegal? What are your thoughts?
 
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Hitman928

Diamond Member
Apr 15, 2012
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Not a lawyer either, but the way I understand it, as long as the components are core DIY computer building components, they are in the clear legally (I am U.S.A. based). This is especially true if the bundle offers any kind of discount by bundling the items together and especially, especially true if they do sell the components in non-bundled offerings (even if in limited quantities).
 
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Mar 11, 2004
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Its frustrating but I'm skeptical that its outright illegal, but I'm not a lawyer and don't know the relevant statutes that would apply.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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I dislike bundling more than any problem caused by miners or scalpers. If I really wanted more than just a GPU, I'd probably go ahead and buy that separately. At a certain point the bundle is just a full PC that I have to put together. If it were a kind of deal where I could pick all of the components individually I wouldn't mind as much, but since bundling does nothing to combat scalping (now the scalper is just selling 3 different things on eBay) it's just scummy practice by a merchant to offload other kit they don't want or can't otherwise sell.

Maybe it's more palatable if it's a bundle of the best GPU, CPU, and RAM for an enthusiast build, but that doesn't really stop people from scalping it.
 
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Leeea

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2020
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NewEggs anti-customer cash gouging has lost them a lot of good will here.

They frequently pair 3080s with the most worthless combos, and you know it is just them dumping their inventory.
 
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Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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Sellers only have the freedom of charging up to what the market will bear. If there weren't people willing to pay an additional $25,000 for a new Corvette, all of those cars would still be sitting on the lot. Put another way, would you be talking about sellers having as much freedom if no one wanted to pay the listed price and those sellers had to offer a $25,000 discount in order to sell any of their cars?

In a free market, purchasers ultimately dictate the prices for anything because it doesn't matter to them one bit if it cost you more to make something than they're willing to pay for it. If bitcoin miners are willing to pay more than you are for the newest GPU then they're ultimately going to end up with more of those GPUs because a seller will gladly sell to whoever is willing to pay the most for their goods or services.
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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*Insert 'Welcome to America' meme here*

Seriously though, lack of inventory is a complex layered issue with compounding causes, and things like tying purchases are ultimately a symptom not the disease.
 

Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
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There is nothing illegal about tying a GPU to some other component. Sure its annoying, but it is by no mean illegal.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,899
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There is nothing illegal about tying a GPU to some other component. Sure its annoying, but it is by no mean illegal.
Product tying IS illegal (*), at least in the USA and EU. This is why Microsoft was forced to release a version of Windows WITHOUT IE and Media Player.

(*) This may depend if the company selling the product has a monopoly.
 

Gideon

Golden Member
Nov 27, 2007
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Product tying IS illegal (*), at least in the USA and EU. This is why Microsoft was forced to release a version of Windows WITHOUT IE and Media Player.

(*) This may depend if the company selling the product has a monopoly.
Microsoft was forced to decouple these, because they used monopoly in one area to establish one in the other. Here the situation is somewhat different. It isn't a monopolistic Nvidia trying to sell their own MOBOs with a bundle deal ...
 
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Golgatha

Lifer
Jul 18, 2003
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As I read it, it's a bit of a grey area. Using one's position, namely owning part of the supply of video cards which are impossible to find, to bundle items there is a robust and competitive market for, and to sell those items in a monopolistic manner by tying the video card to the purchase.
 

MrTeal

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2003
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As I read it, it's a bit of a grey area. Using one's position, namely owning part of the supply of video cards which are impossible to find, to bundle items there is a robust and competitive market for, and to sell those items in a monopolistic manner by tying the video card to the purchase.
They sell both individual cards and product bundles with a small discount though. The consumer has the option of whether they want an individual card or on of the combo deals.

It's scummy that some of the supply is tied up in those combo deals and you can't always just buy just the card you want alone, but it's not like they aren't allowing the sale of the GPU without the whole bundle. I think you'd be hard pressed to show what they're doing is illegal.
 

Golgatha

Lifer
Jul 18, 2003
12,020
275
126
They sell both individual cards and product bundles with a small discount though. The consumer has the option of whether they want an individual card or on of the combo deals.

It's scummy that some of the supply is tied up in those combo deals and you can't always just buy just the card you want alone, but it's not like they aren't allowing the sale of the GPU without the whole bundle. I think you'd be hard pressed to show what they're doing is illegal.
That's literally what happened to me at Micro Center. They had RTX 3070 cards, I was staring right at them, but they WOULD NOT sell me one without tying multiple purchases (case, mobo, RAM, etc.) to build a full computer.

I have been informed however, due to the issues this practice has caused, they're not doing it anymore. Still, I'm out the opportunity to purchase a RTX 3070 because reasons (greed) still.

Also, some of the comments regarding Newegg...my how far they've fallen. I used them as an example, but you couldn't pay me to purchase from them after some of the things they've pulled over the last 5 years, not the least of which is having my CC info stolen and having a laptop ordered on my behalf. I used Newegg almost exclusively in the late 90s and early 2000s, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in purchases, but they burnt that bridge with me long ago.
 
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MrTeal

Diamond Member
Dec 7, 2003
3,116
784
136
That's literally what happened to me at Micro Center. They had RTX 3070 cards, I was staring right at them, but they WOULD NOT sell me one without tying multiple purchases (case, mobo, RAM, etc.) to build a full computer.

I have been informed however, due to the issues this practice has caused, they're not doing it anymore. Still, I'm out the opportunity to purchase a RTX 3070 because reasons (greed) still.

Also, some of the comments regarding Newegg...my how far they've fallen. I used them as an example, but you couldn't pay me to purchase from them after some of the things they've pulled over the last 5 years, not the least of which is having my CC info stolen and having a laptop ordered on my behalf. I used Newegg almost exclusively in the late 90s and early 2000s, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in purchases, but they burnt that bridge with me long ago.
They do sell 3070s that are not bundled though, and from all accounts they're selling lots of them? They just didn't have any stock at the time of the non-bundled part. Good to hear they're moving away from that though.

Agree on NE though for sure. Their extreme busing of bundles with crappy components (3070 bundled with a 550W PSU? Really NE?) as well as their scalper like prices means they've gone from the first place I'd look to a vendor of last resort.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
6,167
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Product tying IS illegal (*), at least in the USA and EU. This is why Microsoft was forced to release a version of Windows WITHOUT IE and Media Player.

(*) This may depend if the company selling the product has a monopoly.
It requires some rather specific circumstances for it to be illegal. Here's the FTC page that gives an overview of the practice and an example of where it can land a company on shaky legal grounds. In this particular case it isn't Nvidia that's doing any of the tying so they're not on the hook at all. Since the individual retailers offering this products aren't a sole or even primary source for the components there's very little chance of them facing any legal ramifications as a result of the creative product bundles that they're offering. If a gas station wanted to tie the sale of a can of Pepsi to a hot dog, no one will go after them for it. They don't make either product themselves and you can easily buy them both individually elsewhere.

While there might be some belief that these bundles benefit consumers since anyone who wants to scalp the GPU may be more put off by the bundle and avoid it, thus leading to greater product availability, I don't think that's the case. Anyone who wants to flip a GPU online probably doesn't have an issue selling a PSU or other bundled components as well. It's certainly more inconvenience, but I'm sure they're capable of running the numbers on whether or not the bundled components would ultimately eat into their arbitrage profits.
 
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