Commission warns trade associations not to issue minimum price recommendations
January 8, 2016
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“the Commission”) has today warned trade associations not to issue minimum price recommendations to their members. To comply with competition law, businesses must decide individually what price they are willing to charge for their products and services. The warning follows a recent Commission investigation into the display of minimum recommended rates for tour guide services on the Approved Tour Guides of Ireland’s (ATGI) website. The ATGI represents tour guides in Ireland who have been accredited by Fáilte Ireland.
Following its investigation, the Commission formed the view that the publication of a list of recommended minimum rates on the ATGI website meant that consumers – in this case tourists and tour operators – did not benefit from normal price competition between tour guides. The Commission directed the ATGI to remove the list from its website and to inform its members that tour guides must decide individually what price they charge for their services. The ATGI now advises consumers to check fees with individual guides.
Isolde Goggin, Chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission commented; “The Commission’s mission is to make markets work better for businesses and consumers alike. Recommendations by trade associations of minimum prices to be charged by their members are likely to distort or eliminate competition and cause consumers to pay higher prices than they otherwise would. Our action in this case will allow the market to set prices, thereby benefiting consumers and businesses in the sector.
We know from our experience of engaging with trade associations that their work sometimes involves collective behaviour which leaves them at risk of stepping outside the boundaries of competition law. It is vitally important for trade associations to understand that they are prohibited from any behaviour which coordinates pricing policies among their members.
To assist trade associations to be competition law compliant, we provide information and guidance through our website ccpc.ie. I would encourage businesses to use this resource as we will take action against those who are not compliant.”
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