Mobile phone network Orange has escaped with a slapped wrist, following a five-month investigation by the Office of Fair Trading into price fixing (MW August 11).
The inquiry was precipitated by a string of complaints from consumers and retailers alleging that Orange was breaching the Resale Prices Act.
The legislation makes it unlawful for a supplier to make it a condition of supply that its goods will not be sold below a specified price.
The OFT received oral and written evidence to support the allegations that Orange was artificially maintaining the price of its handsets. But it has accepted a voluntary undertaking from the Hutchison Telecom-owned company that it will not breach the act in future.
“The OFT was sufficiently convinced that Orange was breaching the Act. It might not agree with our findings, but it is now undertaking to commit no further breaches,” says an OFT spokesman. “The complaints came from half a dozen sources, which may not seem like many but in this sort of case is a large number.”
An Orange spokesman says: “Dealers and retailers have been and are free to set their own selling prices to customers.”