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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Collusion on office equipment market - decision of the President of UOKiK

< previous | next > 30.04.2021

Collusion on office equipment market - decision of the President of UOKiK
  • Fellowes Poland for many years imposed minimum prices on distributors for resale of office equipment on the Internet.
  • Tomasz Chróstny, President of the UOKiK imposed a fine of over PLN 434.000 on the company.
  • The penalty would have been higher, but the businessman took advantage of the leniency program and voluntarily submitted to the penalty.

Fellowes Poland is an authorized distributor of Fellowes products - manufacturer of paper shredders, laminating equipment and binding machines, among others. The Office's findings indicate that the company was the organizer of an agreement restricting competition between 2011 and 2019.

- The evidence gathered clearly shows that there was an unlawful collusion in which Fellowes Poland imposed prices on distributors at which they were to sell office equipment on the Internet. As a result, consumers, companies and institutions for many years did not have the opportunity to purchase Fellowes brand products at lower prices - says President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection Tomasz Chróstny.

What did collusion look like?

The evidence in the possession of the UOKiK shows that distributors could not apply resale prices lower than those imposed in advance by Fellowes Poland. Arrangements were made verbally, by e-mail, over the phone, and during individual meetings or group trips.

The Company monitored whether its trading partners were complying with the arrangements. Distributors also observed each other's activities and informed Fellowes Poland of deviations from the collusion. There were cases of retaliation against entities that did not want to apply the prohibited arrangements - they were deprived by Fellowes Poland of special price lists, marketing support, training and product delivery.

Reduction of penalty

During the course of the proceedings, the entrepreneur took advantage of the leniency program. He provided, inter alia, electronic correspondence with distributors. The evidence provided showed that the collusion lasted longer and involved more products than the materials previously in the Offices's possession indicated.

Considering the value of this information and the company's cooperation during the proceedings, the President of the UOKiK decided to reduce the sanction by half. The entrepreneur could not count on a full waiver of the penalty because it was the initiator of the agreement and induced other entities to participate in the collusion.

In addition, Fellowes Poland received an additional 10 percent reduction in sanctions because the Company voluntarily submitted to the penalty. The benefit of this solution for the entrepreneur is a lower sanction, while for the Office, the possibility of a quicker conclusion of the case.

The final penalty was over PLN 434.000.  The decision is not final and may be appealed to the court. At the same time, according to the regulations, filing an appeal will result in a loss of 10 percent reductions for voluntary submission to penalty.

Entrepreneurs and managers interested in the penalty mitigation program are invited to contact the Office. At the special telephone number 22 55 60 555, the UOKiK lawyers answer all questions concerning leniency applications, including anonymous ones.

If you are aware of any illegal arrangements at your former or current company, notify Office for Competition and Consumer Protection. The Office also runs a programme of acquiring information from anonymous whistleblowers. Visit https://konkurencja.uokik.gov.pl/sygnalista/ and fill in a simple form. The system we use ensures that your identity will not be revealed.

The President of the Office also reminds that anyone who has suffered damage as a result of a competition law violation may file a civil lawsuit against any of the entities that broke the law. When filing a lawsuit, one should indicate the amount of damages sought. In determining its amount, it is necessary to consider the counterfactual scenario, i.e., what the market would have been like in the absence of the violation. As a general rule, the damage will be the excess in the price paid that results from the anticompetitive practice.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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