eTailer In Hot Water Over Price Fixing
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking OmniBlend Australia to the Federal Court, alleging it attempted to engage in price fixing with a competitor.
The blender e-tailer also sought to force its supplier to pressure a main competitor not to discount blender prices, the watchdog alleges.
Omniblender sought to collude with its competitor to fix prices, the watchdog believes but when this failed, it then attempted to induce a supplier to engage in (resale) price maintenance by refusing to supply the competitor, unless it stopped discounting blenders.
OmniBlend’s sole director, Neal Bowhay, also stands accused of aiding and abetting the alleged conduct.
Omniblend’s online store sells kitchen blenders in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, to businesses and consumers which retail for around the $300 mark.
It was set up in 2012 by Neal Bowhay and Lyanne Compton to “promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle “and is based in Myocum, NSW near Byron Bay.
OmniBlend and its competitor are the two major distributors of OmniBlend branded blenders in Australia, which are made by Chinese manufacturer JTC machines.
“Price fixing and resale price maintenance affect consumers by increasing prices, reducing consumer choice and distorting the competitive process,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC views these types of anticompetitive conduct very seriously.”
The compeitition watchdog is seeking remedies against OmniBlend and Bowhay including pecuniary penalties, injunctions, and costs.
The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Melbourne Registry Fast Track List. A date for the Scheduling Conference is set for 10 October 2014 at 9.30am before Justice Gordon.
Another blender retailer, Froothie International, has discontinued selling the Omniblend V and I products due to “various concerns with the product,” according to its website.