The regulator has announced that the electronics and tech group Samsung is objecting to a fine imposed by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).
The South Korean company was fined nearly 40 million euros last year for influencing the prices charged by stores for Samsung televisions, which made customers more expensive.
ACM declares Samsung’s objection to being unfounded. As a result, Samsung can now challenge the fine in court. Whether the company does this is currently unknown. In its appeal, Samsung argued, among other things, that it is incorrect that the company has continuously monitored sales prices.
According to the competition watchdog, Samsung regularly determined online sales prices of Samsung televisions from seven retailers from January 2013 to December 2018. “Aligning retailers’ pricing behaviour in this way is a prohibited anti-competitive practice. Samsung’s conduct was intended to restrict competition,” said ACM.
During an investigation, ACM came across unauthorized practices by Samsung among retailers who offered televisions of the brand in their webshop. For example, if sales prices were lower than Samsung wanted, the company sent sellers messages that the price had to be raised. Employees presented this as advice, but according to the market authority, it was not about non-binding messages at all. In addition, Samsung also intervened when retailers complained about competitors selling the brand’s TVs for less.
ACM became aware of the prohibited commercial practices due to complaints from retailers. The regulator previously decided not to fine the retailers participating in the price influence. As a “spider in the web”, Samsung strongly controlled the coordination of sales prices. “But it does show that retailers have to be careful, that they can also refuse something.” ACM has no indications that Samsung is still making price agreements.