Casio slapped with £3.7m fine for rigging prices of keyboards

Piano and keyboard-maker Casio has hit a bum note after it was handed a £3.7 million fine by the competition watchdog for rigging prices.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the electronics giant broke competition law by preventing retailers from selling its products at lower prices.

Casio admitted that, between 2013 and 2018, it stopped online retailers discounting the price of its digital pianos and keyboards.

The supplier confessed to breaking competition law by requiring retailers to sell products at or above a minimum price, stopping customers from shopping around for the best deal.

The watchdog handed Casio a £3.7 million fine for breaking the law, which it said was the “largest ever fine for this type of offence”.

The fine would have been even greater but was reduced by the CMA after Casio admitted to the illegal behaviour and co-operated with the watchdog’s investigation.

Casio set and monitored prices for its products, pressurising retailers to increase online prices when they fell below the minimum price, the investigation revealed.

Shoppers were unable to get the best possible price for products because of the practice, which means retailers all sold at around the same price, the CMA said.

Casio used new software to catch out stores selling at discount rates, with independent retailers particularly fearful of being caught and potentially sanctioned, it said.

Ann Pope, CMA director of antitrust, said: “A digital piano or keyboard can be a significant purchase, and customers should be able to shop around for a good price.

“Casio’s illegal action – telling retailers not to offer their musical instruments at discounted prices – made it harder for customers to shop around for a better price and meant they risked paying over the odds.

“At the CMA, we take this type of anti-competitive practice seriously and we will not hesitate to impose penalties where we establish the law has been broken.”

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