Tradies caught price fixing

Two Sydney businesses are in strife after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) discovered a Facebook group chat the watchdog alleges is price fixing.

A statement released by the ACCC condemns a Facebook discussion between representatives of two roofing businesses that said devastating Sydney hailstorms were the “perfect opportunity” to set minimum prices for damage repairs.

The comments were posted by Mark Lee Burtenshaw, director of ANZ Roofing, and Brent Cameron Callan-Kerkenezov, director of Ivy Contractors, which the ACCC says are used by “thousands of roofing providers in the greater Sydney area to advertise jobs and discuss industry issues”.

The companies concerned have acknowledged the comments may constitute an attempt to fix prices and could raise concerns about “concerted practices” that prohibit competition, according to Smart Company.

The court-enforceable undertakings provided to the ACCC by both companies include a commitment to prevent this behaviour in future and for the directors to undertake further compliance training.

The offending posts have been removed following the ACCC’s investigation and, as Mr Burtenshaw and Mr Kerkenezov have fully cooperated with the investigation, the ACCC will not commence legal proceedings.

The ACCC warns other businesses that similar discussions or price-sharing with competitors is prohibited from online platforms or private chats.

“The community will not just find this outrageous, it is also anti-competitive and illegal under Australian competition laws,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

“Businesses must remember that attempts by competitors to set prices or share pricing information, whether on social media or in any other forum, are likely to breach Australian cartel and concerted practices laws.”

Do you think these businesses got off lightly? Were you aware of such groups operating?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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