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Asus, Philips, Pioneer, and D&M fined for price fixing in Europe

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Philips, Asus, Denon & Marantz, and Pioneer have been fined in the EU for price fixing.
Philips, Asus, Denon & Marantz, and Pioneer have been fined in the EU for price fixing.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers are being hit with big fines today as a result of online retail price fixing in Europe.

The European Commission, an institution tasked with promoting the general interest of the European Union and carrying out its day-to-day business, announced that the four electronics manufacturers — Philips, Asus, Denon & Marantz, and Pioneer — would receive millions of dollars in fines due to each company’s unlawful behavior. As The Verge reports, there was no collusion between the four companies, but each company engaged in the same price fixing practices.

The four manufacturers used monitoring tools to track the resale pricing of many e-commerce retailers. When prices on its products decreased or were set below the manufacturers’ request, the online retailers would receive threats, such as a block on supplies from the companies.

Philips, for example, engaged in retail price fixing in France on a number of its items, from kitchen supplies to home theater equipment. 

Asus monitored computer and electronic products in France and Germany and requested price increases when the resale prices dropped.

In Germany as well as the Netherlands, Denon & Marantz fixed the pricing of its speakers and headphones. 

Pioneer also engaged in price fixing on its electronics, but had an additional scheme up its sleeve. Pioneer limited the ability for online retailers to sell throughout the E.U. by blocking orders from retailers who sold cross-border. 

The countries affected by Pioneer’s practices include France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Penalties handed down by the European Commission include a $34.9 million fine for Philips, a $11.9 million fine for Pioneer, and a $9 million fine for Denon and Marantz. Asus was hit with the largest of the fines at $74.4 million. 

The fines levied on each company are actually much smaller than they could have been. Due to cooperation from each of the four electronic manufacturers, the Commission reduced the fines as much as 50 percent.The unlawful price fixing practices took place during a span ranging from 2011 to 2015.

“The online commerce market is growing rapidly and is now worth over 500 billion euros in Europe every year. More than half of Europeans now shop online” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is responsible for competition policy, in a statement. “Our decisions today show that EU competition rules serve to protect consumers where companies stand in the way of more price competition and better choice.”

While the moves made today to come down on companies who engage in price fixing is a positive step, with some of the biggest online retailers constantly competing to see who can offer the lowest prices, this most likely won’t be the last time we see manufacturers engage in this anti-consumer practice.

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