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ACM warns suppliers that restrict the freedom of retailers to set their own retail prices

In recent months, the Netherlands Authority of Consumers and Markets (ACM) has warned several suppliers that they may have illegally influenced the retail prices of their products that retailers sell.

Over the past few months, ACM has received various reports, for example that suppliers imposed minimum prices on retailers. That is why ACM has warned dozens of suppliers in various sectors, such as animal feed, hobby supplies, toys, and special shoes. Suppliers take ACM’s warning seriously: internal investigations have been launched, compliance courses have been updated, and agreements have been reviewed. ACM still keeps an eye on several companies to see if they comply with the rules. Companies risk a fine of up to 900,000 euros or 10% of their turnover if they do not comply with the rules.

Recommended retail prices for retailers must be non-binding

Suppliers must give retailers the freedom to set their selling prices themselves. Suppliers are only allowed to give retailers non-binding recommendations regarding selling prices. In this way, retailers are able to compete fairly with each other, and consumers pay the best price for the service offered. It is therefore prohibited for suppliers to exert considerable influence over the selling prices of retailers. ACM therefore considers the violation of this prohibition to be a serious violation of competition rules. For example, ACM in 2021 imposed a fine of over 39 million euros on Samsung for influencing retailers in the pricing of television sets.

In some situations, such as this one, ACM, when receiving reports of a possible violation, initially chooses not to conduct an investigation, but to issue a warning to companies. This gives companies the opportunity to remedy the possible violation, and to take measures to prevent a repeat violation. If this solution is swift and permanent, consumers will benefit directly.

To help suppliers and retailers, ACM has created a checklist (in Dutch) for recommended retail prices. Suppliers can use this checklist to see whether they comply with the rules. Retailers can check whether their supplier exerts illegal influence over the retail prices in online stores and/or brick-and-mortar stores.

Reporting illegal agreements to ACM

Do you suspect suppliers exerting illegal influence over retail prices? You can help us by filing a report.

See also