L’Autorité de la concurrence fines delivery companies

The French competition authority l’Autorité de la concurrence has fined twenty delivery companies a combined €672 million for antitrust breaches. It was found that the companies met to discuss and agree price increases imposed on customers between 2004 and 2010.

State owned railway operator SNCF’s Geodis was given the heaviest fine of €192 million for arranging the meeting and price fixing. Another state owned company La Poste owns Chroniopost and DPD France. These received €99 million and €45 million fines respectively.

German postal operator DHL Express France was hit with an €81 million fine while Dutch TNT Express was hit for €58 million. With other state owned companies from around Europe involved in the scam, it isn’t unsurprising that UK postal operator Royal Mail got in on the act, with its European parcel delivery business GLS being fined €55.1 million for its part.

In a statement, Royal Mail said, “By agreeing not to contest the allegations and provide compliance commitments, Royal Mail has benefited from a reduction in the French competition authority’s fine.”

15 courier companies also agreed price rises related to fuel costs between May 2004 and January 2006. l’Autorité de la concurrence published a 232 page report outlining its findings and judgements on its website yesterday (15 December).

Though competition can wear down prices and the bottom line for businesses in every sector, cartels are expressly forbidden in Europe as that impacts the customer’s ability for free markets to determine the price of their goods and services. The temptation is always there but as can be seen with the nearly €672,000,000 in fines, authorities hit companies that intentionally breach competition law very hard when they find out. If you get caught you will not make the savings you intended to make in fixing those prices.