Floor company warned over price-fix texting

By Ben Chapman-Smith

The company tried to enter into an arrangement with a competitor to control prices for floor sanding and concrete polishing services in Taranaki. Photo / Thinkstock
The company tried to enter into an arrangement with a competitor to control prices for floor sanding and concrete polishing services in Taranaki. Photo / Thinkstock

A flooring company which sent texts to a competitor trying to fix prices for sanding and polishing services has been handed a formal warning by the Commerce Commission.

Ansell Flooring Limited attempted to enter into an arrangement with a competitor in December last year and January this year to control the prices for floor sanding and concrete polishing services in the Taranaki region.

The competitor made a complaint to the Commerce Commission, which then opened an investigation.

That investigation uncovered text messages sent by Ansell Flooring to the competitor proposing a minimum price for floor sanding and an increase in prices generally.

Agreeing prices with a competitor, or even attempting to reach such an agreement, is illegal under the Commerce Act.

Kate Morrison, Commerce Commission general manager of competition, said attempts to fix prices in any industry were serious.

"Price fixing harms competition and can lead to consumers paying higher prices.

"We credit Ansell Flooring Limited's competitor for recognising the anti-competitive behaviour and reporting it to the commission," Morrison said.

She said because Ansell Flooring had cooperated with the commission's investigation, a warning had been deemed appropriate.

"However, we won't rule out stronger enforcement action in the future if there are further allegations of anti-competitive behaviour by Ansell Flooring Limited."

Under the Commerce Act, it is illegal to enter into any contract, arrangement or understanding which leads to fixing the price of goods or services.

Penalties for breaching the act can be as high as $10 million for companies and $500,000 for individuals.

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