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FTC Nails Two Barcode Companies for Attempted Price Fixing

 The article below came out a few weeks ago (Aug 7 2014).  Now, the FTC has finalized the order barring anti-competitive behavior!   Read about it here: http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/08/ftc-approves-final-order-barring-anticompetitive-conduct-among

 

ftc-logo.pngOriginal article: The FTC has determined that two companies in the barcode industry sought to fix prices on UPC codes and “violated the FTC Act by inviting competitors to collude to raise prices…” 

The two companies named by the FTC are Nationwide Barcode and InstantUPCCodes.com.

According to FTC documents:  

"The FTC complaints charge that on August 4, 2013, Alifraghis of Instant sent a message to Peretz of Nationwide proposing that the two companies, along with a third barcode seller, “Competitor A,” together raise their prices to meet the higher prices charged by another company, “Competitor B.” Instant’s Alifraghis allegedly then sent a similar email invitation to Competitor A, and the next day, Nationwide’s Peretz forwarded Instant’s message to Competitor A, asking for its thoughts on the proposal.

Without agreement from Competitor A, Nationwide and Instant did not take action to raise prices, but allegedly continued to discuss by email a possible price-fixing scheme for barcodes, conditioned on the participation of Competitor A. Competitor A never responded to any email nor did it agree to participate in the proposed scheme. The improper discussions continued through January of this year, stopping only after the FTC began its investigation into the matter.

The Commission charges Instant and Nationwide with inviting an agreement to raise prices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC has not alleged, however, that the invitations to collude resulted in an agreement on price or other terms of competition. Because under some circumstances, an agreement on price or other terms or an invitation to collude could potentially constitute criminal conduct, the FTC routinely refers such cases to the Department of Justice to investigate.” 

The FTC has proposed orders settling complaints against Instant and Nationwide and their respective principals.  

"Specifically, the proposed orders bar Instant and Nationwide from:

communicating with their competitors about barcode rates or prices;

entering into, participating in, maintaining, organizing, implementing, enforcing, inviting, offering, or soliciting an agreement with any competitor to divide markets, allocate consumers, or fix prices; and

urging any competitor to raise, fix, or maintain price or to limit or reduce the terms or levels of service they provide.

The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent order for public comment was 5-0.” 

What is interesting is that people continue to buy bar codes at high prices.   

Many other sellers of UPC codes on the Internet, have much lower prices for exactly the same items.   

This was noted by the FTC “In the secondary UPC barcode market, competition among resellers had driven prices lower in the past few years.  

All business owners are encouraged to shop around for the best prices on bar codes!!!  

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