Wednesday 9 November 2016

Online Seller Receives Warning Over Price Fixing


The competition regulator has warned online traders against price fixing after finding evidence of collusion by sellers using internet marketplaces such as Amazon.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it had written to several online companies that may be giving customers a bad deal by discussing prices with competitors or agreeing not to undercut them.

The letters alerted the companies that the CMA had found signs of price fixing and required commitments to stop collusion. The watchdog has also provided a checklist of what price fixing is and how to avoid it.

The CMA declined to say how many companies it had contacted or to give details about their size or the goods they sell. It said it expected the warnings would reduce collusion without the expense of a full investigation, but that it could still launch such an inquiry.

The CMA sent its warnings as shoppers prepare for the Christmas season. The Black Friday discount period will kick off the frenzy on 25 November, with many shoppers buying online, including from traders on Amazon, eBay and other sites.

Stephen Blake, senior director of the CMA’s cartels and criminal group, said: "Online markets are a hugely valuable tool for consumers to shop around and find the best-value products, making the most of effective competition. But these benefits for shoppers are put at risk if the suppliers seek to restrict competition between them. Entering into agreements that limit price competition cheats consumers, is illegal and can have serious consequences for the companies and individuals involved."

The CMA said its warnings were part of a wider clampdown on anti-competitive behaviour by online sellers. It fined Trod, which sells posters and frames on Amazon, £163,371 in July for agreeing with one of its competitors not to undercut each other’s prices. Amazon was not involved in the cartel and was not investigated.

In April, the CMA fined Ultra Finishing £826,000 for threatening online retailers with penalties if they charged below the company’s recommended price for bathroom supplies.

The CMA said online marketplaces were helping it distribute its advice to sellers. It did not name the marketplaces.

Blake said: "The majority of online sellers want to comply with the law. As we enter the peak shopping months of November and December, sellers should make sure they have read our advice so they don’t get caught out. The consequences for those who don’t can be serious."



Etiam at libero iaculis, mollis justo non, blandit augue. Vestibulum sit amet sodales est, a lacinia ex. Suspendisse vel enim sagittis, volutpat sem eget, condimentum sem.