AquaDepot Imports will take steps to inform retailers that they are free to set their own prices following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Graeme Faulkner and Philip Wu, trading as AquaDepot Imports, admitted engaging in resale price maintenance by ceasing to supply an online retailer who discounted aquarium products below a specified price.
Resale price maintenance is an attempt by a supplier to set a minimum price below which its retailers cannot sell, advertise, display or offer goods for sale. It is prohibited by the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Between August 2010 and October 2011, AquaDepot sent emails to a retailer stating that if it advertised AquaDepot products at a price lower than 5–10 per cent below the recommended retail prices, that retailer would no longer be supplied. In January 2011, AquaDepot stopped supply to that retailer because it had ignored the pricing directions.
"The ACCC will continue to vigorously pursue businesses which try to restrict the freedom of retailers to set their own prices," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
"The law against resale price maintenance applies to online stores the same as it does to bricks and mortar shops. It is illegal for a company to try to prevent any retailer from providing a better price to consumers," Mr Sims said.
The ACCC has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from AquaDepot, which requires AquaDepot to:
- not prevent any retailer of AquaDepot products from setting its own prices for three years
- send a letter to all retailers supplied between 1 June 2010 and 30 June 2011 notifying them of the undertaking and informing them that they are free to set retail prices for AquaDepot products
- place a corrective notice on the AquaDepot website (www.aquadepot.com.au) and the Marine Aquarium Societies of Australia website (www.masa.asn.au), and
- attend trade practices compliance training annually for three years.
The undertaking is available on the public register on the ACCC website.