Friday, May 22, 2015

Car rental companies (also) suspected of price fixing – Europe1

Europe 1


The list begins seriously to lie: after yoghurts, endives, dog food, or more recently poultry producers is rental companies turn to cars ending up in the viewfinder of the Competition Authority. The latter announced that it had opened an investigation into this sector, suspecting the major companies have agreed on prices at stations and airports. Anticompetitive practices which, if true, would mean that many consumers do not pay “fair price” for years.

What renters are affected? All Industry heavyweights would be affected: Europcar, Avis Budget, Hertz, Citer, Sixt and Ada, from Le Figaro which revealed the information. That is the only networks present in most major railway stations and airports.

What has criticized the car rental? The competition watchdog suspects them not respecting the free play of competition, intended to allow the consumer to get the best price. Instead, rental companies are accused of having agreed them from 2003 to 2008 to align their tariffs in certain situations: overload in railway stations and commercial offers at airports

<. p> The first, concerning the overload in railway stations, concerns a period from 2005 to 2008. According to a source close to the case, it is the most important part of the investigation. The flap on airport dates back to 2003-2008, according to the financial document Europcar. The “exchange of information” would have occurred in a dozen French airports, including Roissy and Orly.

Positioned finger, the owner not have all adopted the same tone. The Director General of Ada, Christophe Plovenez, has told AFP that his company was concerned “by one of the two parts, that of airports.” But the side Europcar is disputed “grievances formally notified to it,” adding defend “strongly this position with the Competition Authority.”

What might the societies? If the suspicions of the Competition Authority continue, the companies in question are likely a heavy fine. Europcar, the number one car rental, has said it had provisioned 45 million euros in view of a possible fine. A substantial amount but still closer to the “illegitimate” profits during the same period: sometimes the gain resulted in an agreement may be higher than the fine, which is up to 10% of turnover on the period

But recently, companies mainly fear another threat. group actions, also called “class action”. These, introduced into French law in October 2014, allow several injured consumers to put themselves in groups to prosecute. But justice may grant them that the offending company reimburses the overpayment, which becomes financially much more serious, especially if we add the costs of proceedings.

More and more companies convicted. Do companies are increasingly tempted not to respect the law or the Competition Authority is it all simply more efficient? Still, that convictions for price fixing have multiplied in recent months. On 12 March, the competition watchdog has condemned 11 dairy groups whose Senagral, Novandis (Andros) and Lactalis to fines totaling € 192.7 million for price fixing and bidding on fresh dairy products under private labels.

May 6, 21 of the industrial poultry sector which LDC (Rented, … Le Gaulois), Duke and Gastronomy, and two professional associations have been convicted of an agreement, scooping a total fine of 15.2 million euros. In another genre, the sector of animal kibble was sentenced in 2012 to 35,300,000 euros for restriction of competition. The same year, the cartel of endive was fined, just as, a few months earlier, the detergents.


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