The Federal Court of Australia has ordered that Mitsubishi Electric Australia Pty Ltd (Mitsubishi Electric) pay $2.2 million in penalties for engaging in resale price maintenance that saw the Japanese Company who sell appliances, projectors and air conditioning in Australia try to prevent the discounting of their air conditioning products in Australia.
The ACCC said in a statement issued today that resale price maintenance is prohibited under section 48 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and that it occurs when suppliers seek to prevent independent retailers or distributors from advertising or selling products below a specified price.
The Court found that on three occasions between 2009 and 2011, Mitsubishi Electric through the conduct of its senior managers sought to stop consumers getting discounts.
Mitsubishi is not saying which senior managers were involved in the attempt to cheat consumers or whether they still work for the Company.
The ACCC claimed that Mitsubishi induced and attempted to induce one of its dealers, Mannix Electrical Pty Ltd (Mannix) not to sell Mitsubishi Electric branded air conditioning products at prices below a minimum specified price; and
reduced the discounts Mannix had received from Mitsubishi Electric by terminating its 'dealer' status, for reasons including Mannix's failure to increase its prices of Mitsubishi Electric branded air conditioning products to the minimum specified price.
The consumer watchdog said that in 2009, Mitsubishi Electric told Mannix that its price for a 7.1kW air conditioning product was $200 lower than it should be, and attempted to induce Mannix to increase its price for that product. At the time, such products were generally selling for $1500 so $200 represents a significant element of the price for consumers.