1493771174139 - Plumbers reminded not to talk pricing with competitors – Commerce Commission

Plumbers reminded not to talk pricing with competitors – Commerce Commission

Plumbers are being warned not to discuss what they charge for services after a tweet involving Trade Me founder Sam Morgan hinted at price fixing.

The Commerce Commission has been contacting plumbing associations throughout the country asking them to remind their members not to discuss pricing.

Morgan posted a screen grab of a plumber’s tweet. The plumber said he was angry Morgan’s home maintenance firm, Goodnest, was charging lower prices in Auckland.

He told Morgan he intended to raise the pricing issue at a Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Association meeting.

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The commission saw the tweet and alerted Master Plumbers to ensure pricing discussions were not raised.

Master Plumbers told the commission pricing was not raised at the meeting, and it would not allow those sorts of discussions to occur.

The commission had also contacted the plumber who made the comments to remind him it was illegal to discuss pricing among competitors.

A commission spokesman said no further action was required “at this stage”.

In response to questions for Morgan, Goodnest founder James MacAvoy said the company was often pressured, through legal requests, online chat, or emails, to stop comparing rates, or to align with the industry rates. 

“Our response and how we deal with these incidents was and is always the same: no.

“Our comparisons are good for the consumer and companies should have nothing to hide. We’ll never bow to pressure to price-fix, as it’s illegal.”

Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Association chairman Craig Foley said MacAvoy had been assured the association did not condone discussion on pricing at its meetings.

Foley said he did not know if the plumber was a member, as the tweet was anonymous.

However, in response to the commission’s actions, the association had communicated with its members to enforce the message that price fixing was illegal and should not be undertaken, Foley said.

The association has 1170 plumber members.

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