The ACCC is taking Federal Court action against Mitsubishi Electric Australia for alleged retail price maintenance in its various dealings with Mannix Electrical, an operator of 12 retail stores in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

In an effort to keep sell prices at a certain level, the ACCC alleges that Mitsubishi Electric “induced and attempted to induce” Mannix to not sell its air conditioners below a certain price. When these unspecified inducements failed, the ACCC says Mitsubishi Electric downgraded Mannix’s status from ‘dealer’ to ‘contractor’.

Operating out of South Australia, Mannix Electrical trades in the retail space as ‘Mannix Air Conditioning’ and ‘Airconditioning (sic) Warehouse Sales’. There are 10 stores in South Australia and one each in Victoria and Queensland.

“Mannix Airconditioning is one of Australia’s largest and most awarded air conditioning specialists. With over 45 years experience, their value is second to none,” is how the company describes itself on its website.

According to a media statement from the ACCC, Mitsubishi’s alleged efforts to maintain prices with Mannix were driven by complaints from rival retailers.

The ACCC alleges that Mitsubishi Electric’s conduct was partly driven by complaints it received from other dealers it supplied, who were Mannix’s competitors.

“Resale price maintenance can inhibit traders from competing for customers because they are unable to discount the price of products they sell. Such conduct is a concern to the ACCC, particularly where traders put pressure on their supplier to stop their competitors from discounting,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The ACCC is seeking a variety of measures from this Federal Court action, including financial penalties and legal costs.

In response to this action, Mitsubishi Electric released the following statement:

Mitsubishi Electric Australia has received notice of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC) proceedings. Mitsubishi Electric Australia has co-operated fully with the ACCC during the investigation and will continue to do so.

As the matter is now before the Federal Court, it is not appropriate for Mitsubishi Electric Australia to comment any further.

Mitsubishi Electric Australia is committed to ethics as one of our company’s guiding principles and we take matters of compliance very seriously. We have reviewed our compliance program at length and are implementing additional measures to prevent this type of issue arising again.

Appliance Retailer has contacted Mannix Electrical for comment.