During the course of an investigation, the Office found that an Association of agencies operating in the public relations (PR) market (“Association”) published on its website historical data on average hourly rates in Czech PR agencies for 2018 and 2019, together with accompanying text relating to the general rules of pricing on the PR market. The investigation revealed that some of the Association’s members perceived the data published on the website as a price list and used it for the purpose of their own pricing and negotiation with their clients.
The Office holds a long-term position that associations of competitors should in no case issue, even in the form of non-binding recommendations, any price lists (albeit consisting of past prices) or calculation formulas for the prices. Such action can be considered as a breach of competition rules, as it may lead to the unification of prices on the market and/or eliminate uncertainty among competitors about their pricing strategy.
The Association could have been fined up to 10 % of the net turnover of all its members for the last accounting period. However, since the Association fully cooperated with the Office in this case, deleted the price list and accompanying text from the website immediately and informed its members about the Office’s position, the Office did not impose any fine. These steps were taken by the Office upon its discretion as part of its competition advocacy approach.
This case, therefore, highlights not only the position of the Office regarding the publishing of price lists or calculation formulas but also indicates the benefits of cooperation with the Office as well as willingness of the Office to deal with less substantial matters by advocacy.
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