The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provided some guidance for on-line retailers in the run-up to the end of year sales frenzy that starts with Black Friday.
As well as a summary of what constitutes ‘price-fixing’ and how to avoid it, they have published details of a case study illustrating a recent investigation into two companies that were using automated re-pricing software to implement an agreement not to undercut each other’s prices. The CMA is warning software providers that if they help their clients to fix prices they too could face penalties for anti-competitive practices.
The advice stresses that it is not only agreeing prices with a competitor that is illegal. Even a discussion of pricing strategies between competitors is viewed as anti-competitive behaviour.
This is seen as a particular concern for on-line sales, since internet shopping is assumed to be (even more) focussed on price competition than bricks and mortar sales.