Musical Instrument Companies Roland and Korg Fined £ 5.5 Million for Price Fixing in UK | Competition and Markets Authority
Keyboard and electric drum kit makers Roland and Korg have been fined a total of £ 5.5million as part of Britain’s competition watchdog crackdown on price fixing in the musical instrument industry.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the companies had broken competition rules by limiting the online releases of their musical instruments. The practice, known as “resale price maintenance”, required retailers to sell instruments at or above a minimum price.
The watchdog said Roland restricted the prices of its electronic drum kits and accessories between January 2011 and April 2018, while Korg did the same for its music equipment and high-tech synthesizers between June 2015 and April. 2018.
Roland was fined just over £ 4million and Korg £ 1.5million.
Similar offenses resulted in a £ 4.5million fine against guitar maker Fender in January, months after Casio was hit with a blow £ 3.7million penalty for the pricing of digital keyboards and pianos last August.
The Roland and Korg cases mark the end of five separate CMA investigations covering major players in the industry, and bring the total fines to £ 13.7m.
The watchdog has written to nearly 70 industry manufacturers and retailers warning them of their conduct. He also issued an open letter to the industry, urging companies to comply with the law, “given the prevalence” of this type of pricing.
The regulator separately announced its first resale price maintenance case against an instrument retailer on Monday, saying GAK had admitted to reaching an agreement with Yamaha on online pricing of its instruments. The retailer agreed to pay a fine of over £ 250,000, which was increased by 15% when it continued to restrict prices after receiving a warning letter from the CMA.
However, the CMA granted Yamaha immunity from any fines for bringing the matter to the attention of the regulator.
CMA Executive Director of Law Enforcement Michael Grenfell said: “During the coronavirus outbreak, people are shopping online more than usual, including for musical instruments. Even before the pandemic, the CMA estimated that around 40% of musical instruments on average were sold online, so it’s important that manufacturers and retailers don’t work illegally together to keep prices high.
“Today’s announcements clearly show CMA’s determination to protect buyers from illegal attempts to restrict discounts.