UK startup declares war on 'rip off Britain'

But Intersaver's claim of cutting out the middleman might not be all it seems

Online retailer Intersaver.co.uk, launched Thursday, claims that it is "declaring war on rip off Britain" and promises to offer consumers savings of up to 35 percent on consumer electronics.

The online store is able to offer savings over high street stores by connecting the consumer directly to the manufacturer, so cutting the costs of middlemen. Intersaver has secured the support of major companies such as Samsung, which will supply it with goods at 10 percent above the factory gate price. This means Intersaver can offer substantial discounts over the high street.

"Consumers are sick and tired of being forced to pay high prices," said Intersaver managing director John Thornhill, "Retailers and some manufacturers are collaborating to keep prices artificially inflated, it's about time consumers boycotted these manufacturers."

The site currently stocks home entertainment goods, white products and garden goods. Intersaver plan to introduce sports and children's stock in the near future. By each product is a "high street checker" button that gives the comparable price at major high street stores.

Andy Brown, research analyst at IDC, who specialises in the electrical retail market, believes that although high street retailers "should be watching their backs" over the rise of alternative channels for purchasing electrical goods, UK consumers are often still sceptical.

He also argues that online shops like Intersaver, far from getting rid of the middleman, are middlemen themselves: "This is really just selling through the indirect channel directly."

The site is similar to the cooperative shopping site Letsbuyit.com , which launched this week, in the way that it takes advantage of bulk purchasing behaviour to drive down costs. However it differs in that prices are fixed, no matter how many people buy the goods. "The price is the same for the first person as the hundredth," a spokeswoman emphasises.

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