ACCC continues to crack down on electrical price fixing

By James Wells

SYDNEY: Teac is the latest local company successfully prosecuted for price fixing by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after investigations into Topfield set top boxes and Optima computers.

The ACCC recently convicted another set top box manufacturer, Topfield, of similar price-fixing charges and fined the company $297,500. The owner of the brand’s Australian distributor, Jai Kemp, was also personally fined over $17,000 for his involvement in the misdemeanor.

According to the article, Topfield was later made to issue an apology in an attempt to alleviate its sullied reputation. Topfield’s parent company, Digital Products Group received a 30 per cent reduction off the original fine due to cooperation recognised by the ACCC.

At the time, Topfield director Jai Kemp said resale price-fixing was not something he researched when setting up his company on 2003.

“When I started our wholesale and distribution side of the business in mid 2003 I was more worried about getting letter heads printed and making sure I paid the electricity bill on time. Not having a degree in business or a legal background I had no idea what resale price maintenance was – the information was not readily available in a form that was easily understood," Kemp said.

Kemp warned other businesses at the time about the risks associated with breaching the Trade Practices Act.

“It’s really important to make sure you understand the Act. We thought we were doing the right thing. It turns out that we weren’t – and for that we apologise."

Optima Computers was also prosecuted by the ACCC in December last year for resale price maintenance.

According to the report, products sold through The Good Guys, Retravision and Leading Edge were investigated after a complaint was made to the ACCC about alleged resale price maintenance. Optima admitted it had told two of its dealers they should top discounting and raise their prices for Optima computers to Optima’s recommended retail prices. The dealers were threatened with having the supply of Optima products withheld or their dealership cancelled.

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