Fender has been fined £4.5 million for pressuring online retailers to sell its instruments at high minimum prices in breach of UK competition law.
The musical instrument giant’s European arm was handed that largest fine on record for such behaviour by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Fender, which also sells instruments through its own website, reportedly told third party online retailers to sell its goods at or above a certain price, chasing them to raise the prices if they did not comply, between 2013 and 2018.
This comes just months after the CMA slapped keyboard maker Casio with a £3.7 million fine for similar conduct.
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“It is absolutely essential that companies do not prevent people from being able to shop around to buy their products at the best possible price,” CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said.
“The fact the CMA has imposed large fines on major musical instrument firms Casio and Fender in a matter of months should be a lesson to this industry and any other company considering illegal behaviour. Break competition law and you will face serious consequences.”
By law the CMA had the power to fine Fender 10 per cent of its global sales, which would have resulted in a fine over ten times the size, however as Fender admitted to the conduct it was let off.
A Fender spokesperson said that the company’s conduct “fell well below the highest standards we set ourselves and this is a matter of deep regret”.
In 2018 a Fender employee was found to have hidden 10 notebooks from the CMA during an inspection relating to its investigation, resulting in another £25,000 fine after they were handed over.