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Regional lettings agency under the competition spotlight

Agency Loc8me has been thrown under the spotlight after local students claim staff member admitted talking to competitors over fees.

Robyn Hall

Agency Loc8me has been thrown under the spotlight after a pioneering local Durham student newspaper, Palatinate, claimed to have caught the agency admitting to price fixing.

During a recorded conversation with a member of staff at the Durham branch the member of the Loc8me team says: “So what you’ll see is that, you know most agents advertise with bills included… [but] obviously the prices are going up and it’s basically to try and compensate for that.”

GOING UP

“So our prices are going up to kind of reflect that, you know, we spoke to the other agents and they are as well.”

While the recording is vague and doesn’t admit to price fixing in any way, any agreement between the agencies would be in breach of the 1998 Competition Act.

Under that Act, any anti-competitive agreements between businesses are prohibited.

If proven, this could turn into a massive problem for Loc8me.

Price fixing is a serious breach of competition law.”

One regulation sector insider tells The Neg: “Price fixing is a serious breach of competition law.

“If the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) finds a company has been involved in price fixing, there may be consequences for the company.”

FINE

Indeed, those consequences could be a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual worldwide turnover.

Our expert adds: “In certain circumstances, individuals may also face criminal sanctions for involvement in price fixing.”

Loc8me and the CMA have been approached for comment.

October 31, 2022

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