The companies were accused of “systematically” restricting price competition, colluding to set minimum prices on goods in 13 instances between April 2014 and December 2018, said the Cartel Office. This is in accordance with the EU’s competition rules which protects consumers against practices such as price fixing.
A statement explained that when the retailers undercut minimum sales prices, staff at Yamaha, Roland and Fender would “on several occasions contact Thomann and Music Store and ask these retailers to adjust their sales prices, which they also did in many cases.”
On several occasions, the manufacturers also threatened and imposed penalties on retailers – such as a suspension of supply or a worsening of terms and conditions.
Additionally, Thomann and Music Store were found to have agreed on price hikes for individual products in several cases. Yamaha and Roland were also said to have used price tracking software to monitor end consumer prices.
“For years manufacturers and retailers of musical instruments have systematically endeavoured to restrict price competition for the end consumer,” said Andreas Mundt, President of the Cartel Office.
“With the fines it has imposed the Bundeskartellamt [German Cartel Office] is sending a clear signal not just to the companies concerned but also to the entire musical instrument sector that violations of the prohibition of resale price maintenance and price-fixing agreements will not be tolerated.”