Trod Limited has agreed to accept a fine after admitting using automated repricing software to implement an illegal cartel.
The online seller has admitted agreeing with its competing online seller, GB Eye (GB Posters), that they would not undercut each other’s prices for posters and frames sold on Amazon. The agreement was implemented by using automated repricing software, which the parties each configured to give effect to the illegal cartel.
Trod and GB Eye sold licensed sport and entertainment merchandise and related products, including posters, frames, badges, stickers and mugs.
The cartel applied to posters and frames sold by both parties on Amazon Marketplace via Amazon’s UK website from 24th March 2011, at the latest, to 1st July 2015, at the earliest.
Following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Trod has accepted a fine of £163,371 for taking part in the cartel. This is after deducting 20% to reflect the resource savings to the CMA as a result of Trod’s admission and co-operation with the investigation.
Provided it continues to co-operate, GB Eye will not receive a fine, having reported the cartel to the CMA and co-operated with the investigation, in accordance with the CMA’s leniency policy.
Stephen Blake, senior director and head of the CMA’s Cartels and Criminal Group, said: “Online pricing tools, such as automated repricing software, can help sellers compete better, for the benefit of consumers. In this case, however, the parties used repricing software to implement an illegal agreement to deny consumers these benefits. Sellers on online platforms need to be aware that agreeing with each other to limit price competition in this way is illegal and can have serious consequences for the companies and individuals involved. The CMA is committed to tackling such anti-competitive behaviour, which jeopardises online markets and consumer trust in e-commerce.”