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Listening: a news report about competition law (1)

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…are believed to have been involved.

PAUSE

And now today’s business news. The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into allegations that camera giant Nashiconika is discriminating against online retailers. The claims were first made in an article published in the magazine, Spend! The consumer watchdog has now taken action following further complaints from web-based stores.

The inquiry will focus on claims that Nashiconika is offering discounts to small high-street retailers that are not available to online discounters. Under the Competition Act 1998, such dual-pricing practices are outlawed. If found guilty of collusion with small retailers, Nashiconika could face a hefty fine. The maximum penalty that can be levied for a contravention of the Competition Act is 10% of worldwide turnover ‘in relevant markets’ in the year prior to the infringement.

One Internet camera discounter, who asked not to be identified, said: ‘What Nashiconika are doing is unfair. They’re trying to shut down the discounters by allowing small shopkeepers to buy at a better price. It’s price-fixing through the back door.’ However, a spokesman for CLICK, a trade association representing high street retailers, said ‘Our members offer a shopping experience that online retailers simply can’t match. Any ruling against Nashiconika would be a ruling against the public interest. It would result in increased prices, the closure of many small businesses and an overall reduction in the level of customer service.’

Speaking on this morning’s programme, a spokeswoman for the Office of Fair Trading said: ‘We can confirm that we have written to Nashiconika informing them we have reasonable grounds to suspect that newly introduced terms in dealer agreements regarding the sale of cameras may affect Internet sales and that is a breach of the Competition Act 1998. We are launching a formal investigation.’

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