According to Reuters, the Accenture software identifies which spare parts in a manufacturer’s range customers would be content to pay more for, how much to raise prices by and which prices should not be hiked.
The software details were found in sales material from Accenture which was part of the court files
Jaguar Land Rover acknowledged still using the Partneo software, but Reuters was unable to figure out which other car makers, if any, currently use it. Accenture denied its software was unfair to motorists and said its focus was on increasing clients’ efficiency.
“Solutions of this type, which enable companies to assess and manage their products, are commonplace across industries. They help companies analyse spare part visibility and availability”, it said in a statement.
Laurent Boutboul is claiming 33 million euro from Accenture over what he says is damage to his reputation because Accenture broke European competition rules. He says it did this by using non-public information taken from Renault to help configure the pricing systems it set up for PSA and potentially other manufacturers. His lawsuit did not specify the exact information.
Renault, Jaguar Land Rover and Peugeot said their pricing strategies for spare parts were legal, did not take advantage of car owners and were focused on efficiency and ensuring availability for motorists.
Peugeot said in a statement that its replacement parts strategy “consists in offering ranges of spare parts that meet the needs of all customers, regardless of their budget, at the highest level of reliability and safety”.
Renault said it “strives to provide its customers with a wide variety of quality spare parts, the price of which is calculated based on parameters that Renault considers fair and equitable”.
JLR said it used Partneo to “deliver consistency in pricing across our spare parts range to ensure that we are appropriately priced against our competition”.
France’s competition regulator said it had examined the software and did not see a reason to open a full antitrust investigation. It didn't say why, but it is French, so it does not have to. Renault said it was unaware of any of its non-public pricing information being shared with other carmakers. PSA said it rejected Boutboul’s accusations, but did not answer detailed questions about how its software was configured.
Accenture said its pricing software, called Partneo “does not share confidential or sensitive data between clients”.
Aaron Roth, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said using software to try and identify the highest prices people were willing to pay was merely an extension of long established practice among manufacturers and retailers.