A Wellington taxi company has been ordered to pay a $150,000 penalty after admitting it colluded with two competitors to fix minimum prices for fares.
Hutt and City Taxis breached the Commerce Act by agreeing with two of its competitors to implement a minimum $25 charge for pick-up trips from the on-demand Wellington Airport taxi rank last year.
The Commerce Commission took legal action against Hutt and City in May this year, referring to the company’s actions as cartel conduct that harms consumers and other businesses that are trying to compete fairly.
Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said price-fixing stifles competition and hurts consumers who end up paying more.
“While cases are less common in New Zealand than overseas, recent changes to the Commerce Act have beefed up penalties as a deterrent,” Duffy said.
“Business owners should be aware that they could face jail time if they’re caught colluding with their competitors. Hutt and City Taxis appears to be lucky to get away with a fine at the lower end of what could have been imposed. Other businesses should take notice that the courts are taking this type of conduct seriously.”
The High Court ordered Hutt and City Taxis to pay the $150,000 penalty in instalments over the next four years.