The Competition and Markets Authority settles with an online seller who admitted using automated repricing software to implement an illegal cartel

On 28 July 2016, the CMA announced that it had issued a statement of objections to Trod Limited (“Trod”) and GB eye Limited (trading as GB Posters (“GB”)) setting out the CMA’s case that the parties had implemented an illegal cartel. 

Trod had previously agreed to settle the case, admitting that it had agreed with GB that they would not undercut each other’s prices for posters and frames sold on Amazon’s UK website. The two companies used automated repricing software configured by each party to implement their agreement to fix prices. The agreement lasted from at least March 2011 to 1 July 2015. Trod agreed to accept a fine of  £163,371 for its participation in the cartel, which reflects a 20% discount because Trod admitted to the cartel and cooperated with the CMA’s investigation. GB did not receive a fine as it informed the CMA of the cartel in accordance with the CMA’s leniency policy and cooperated with the investigation.

Making sure online and digital markets are working effectively is one of the CMA’s main priorities.  Stephen Blake, head of the CMA’s Cartels and Criminal Group, stated:

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.

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