The owner of a Taranaki flooring company warned for attempting to fix prices says his competitor's complaints to the Commerce Commission were part of a longstanding grudge.
Ansell Flooring Ltd was given a formal warning by the commission yesterday after an investigation into attempts to fix prices for floor-sanding and concrete-polishing services in Taranaki.
The commission's investigation discovered text messages sent by Ansell Flooring owner Clinton Ansell to a competitor, proposing a minimum price for floor sanding and an increase in prices generally.
This is illegal under the Commerce Act.
But Mr Ansell said the texts were in response to price undercutting by the competitor.
"It's a bit of a myth. What they've been doing is running around undercutting our prices, so I had a dig at him in a text," Mr Ansell said.
"Everyone who knows me knows I don't price fix. This is just a company grudge."
Mr Ansell said it would be almost impossible to fix prices in the industry because rates were the same around the country.
However, the commission said attempts to fix prices in any industry were serious because it harmed competition and could lead to consumers paying higher prices.
"We credit Ansell Flooring Ltd's competitor for recognising the anti-competitive behaviour and reporting it to the commission," spokeswoman Kate Morrison said.
Mr Ansell had co-operated with the commission's investigation and for that reason only a warning was given, she said.
"They said ‘you shouldn't have done what you did, but you didn't understand, so we are giving you a warning'," Mr Ansell said.
The commission said it would not rule out stronger enforcement action if there were further allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, Ms Morrison said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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