The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new campaign to ensure online sellers know how to avoid breaking UK competition law.
The catering equipment industry is all too aware of the consequences of this, following the CMA’s investigation earlier this year which saw Foster Refrigerator fined nearly £2.3m.
Therefore in the build up to one of the busiest times of the year for online sales, the CMA is using this opportunity to remind sellers that discussing and agreeing price levels with competitors is illegal, and can result in serious penalties.
It goes hand in hand with the CMA writing to a number of online companies which may be denying customers the best available deals and reminding them of their obligations under competition law. The CMA has also engaged with online marketplace providers which are helping make the CMA’s advice available to online sellers.
The CMA has produced information that includes an at-a-glance summary for online sellers that explains what constitutes ‘price-fixing’ and what they can do to avoid it.
The campaign’s key warnings are that online sellers should not: agree with their competitors what prices they will charge, or that they won’t undercut each other on price, or discuss their pricing intentions or strategies with competitors.
Stephen Blake, senior director of the CMA’s Cartels and Criminal Group, said: “The CMA is strongly committed to tackling anti-competitive behaviour in online markets. Entering into agreements that limit price competition cheats consumers, is illegal and can have serious consequences for the companies and individuals involved.
“We recognise that 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.”