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NMa: no price-fixing agreements by car dealers for trade-in cars

Having carried out a market scan regarding trade-in cars in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has come to the conclusion that car dealers are not using their digital trade-in valuation systems to fix prices. The market scan looked into two popular systems: Autodata's ATS, and the value list of Dutch automobile association ANWB and Dutch automotive trade association BOVAG. The NMa does not rule out the possibility that there may have been contact between dealers in some individual cases, but the NMa would like to emphasize that there is currently no reason to launch a competition-law investigation.

The scan has led to another finding: most of the time, consumers are not aware that certain car dealerships often belong to the same holding, even though these dealers use different names. Consumers will thus inadvertently assume that these dealerships are independent undertakings instead of being subsidiaries belonging to a single holding. It is not prohibited for dealers belonging to the same holding to exchange information among each other, since they do not compete with one another. Consumers who want to buy or sell a car might be better off to check in advance whether certain dealers belong to the same holding or to competing holdings.

Indications and tip-offs that the NMa receives from individuals and undertakings concerning possible violations of the Dutch Competition Act, and preferably accompanied by supporting evidence, are highly appreciated, including those concerning car dealers. It is these indications and tip-offs that enable the NMa to increase its knowledge of a certain industry, and to track down possible violations. The NMa receives approximately 4,000 indications per year concerning possible violations of the Competition Act.