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4WD businesses admit to price fixing

Two manufacturers of four-wheel drive accessories have admitted to illegally directing resellers not to advertise or sell their products below a specified price. Picture: supplied.
Two manufacturers of four-wheel drive accessories have admitted to illegally directing resellers not to advertise or sell their products below a specified price. Picture: supplied.

Two manufacturers of four-wheel drive accessories have admitted to illegally directing resellers not to advertise or sell their products below a specified price.

MSA 4x4 Accessories Pty Ltd, which specialises in making drop slides and towing mirrors, and Offroad Animal Pty Ltd, which makes bull bars, roof racks and lights, have each separately admitted to engaging in resale price maintenance, the ACCC said in a statement on Friday.

MSA 4x4 Accessories admitted that in early 2022, it directed some of its resellers to not discount its products below a certain discount percentage, warning that if any resellers failed to comply with its direction it would not allow any discounting from the recommended retail price.

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Between September 2020 and June 2023, Offroad Animal instructed resellers and prospective resellers to not advertise its products below the recommended retail price.

Resale price maintenance is illegal under Australia’s competition law. Picture: Supplied
Resale price maintenance is illegal under Australia’s competition law. Picture: Supplied

Under Australia’s competition law, it is illegal for suppliers to engage in resale price maintenance, which is when suppliers prevent, or attempt to prevent, resellers from advertising or selling goods or services below a specified minimum price.

“Resale price maintenance prevents resellers from being able to compete with each other on price, leading to higher prices for consumers,” ACCC commissioner Liza Carver said.

“Businesses should be aware that the ACCC takes resale price maintenance very seriously and will take appropriate enforcement action against businesses that engage in this illegal practice.

“Suppliers cannot impose higher prices by setting the minimum prices that resellers charge or advertise.

“Similarly, suppliers should not give in to pressure from some resellers to impose minimum prices on other competing resellers, especially those with lower-cost online business models.”

MSA 4x4 Accessories and Offroad Animal have committed to providing corrective notices to resellers advising that they are free to set their own prices, among other things. Picture: Supplied
MSA 4x4 Accessories and Offroad Animal have committed to providing corrective notices to resellers advising that they are free to set their own prices, among other things. Picture: Supplied

MSA 4x4 Accessories and Offroad Animal have each committed, in court-enforceable undertakings agreed to by the ACCC, to providing corrective notices to resellers advising that they are free to set their own prices and to publishing corrective notices on their websites.

They must also establish, implement, and maintain a competition and consumer compliance program for three years.