The President of the Trade Commission, Anna Rawlings. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A Wellington taxi company was ordered to pay $ 150,000 for cartel behavior after admitting to pricing the cabs.
Hutt and City Taxis have admitted breaking the trade law by agreeing to fix prices with two other taxi companies operating out of Wellington Airport.
The companies set a fixed minimum price of $ 25 and then discussed designing stickers to display the new fixed price.
Trade Commission President Anna Rawlings said the behavior “undermines the essence of competition”.
“If people agree not to compete, consumers are deprived of the benefits of competition, including paying higher prices than they wanted to pay.”
She told the Herald that companies are required to make sure they know the law – unless they want to pay the price,
“We encourage all businesses and individuals to make sure they understand the law relating to cartels, therefore the agreements to set prices, the allocation of customers – these are all cartel conduct that can lead to high financial penalties or even prison terms ”.
The program only operated for a month between October and November 2020, but Rawlings said it didn’t stop until the Trade Commission started investigating.
Jenna Raeburn, general manager of corporate affairs at Wellington Airport, says she is happy the issue was resolved quickly.
“It’s worrying what happened, but the Trade Commission got down to it and took care of it so we move on… we want to see fair behavior from taxi companies and fair prices for consumers with good levels of competition. “
The High Court imposed the penalties on Thursday, which will be payable in installments over the next four years.
He first determined that the appropriate starting point for the fines would be between $ 500,000 and $ 600,000, but took into account “extenuating circumstances”, as well as the financial condition of Hutt and City.