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Woolies' grubby role in detergent cartel

CHOICE welcomes Woolworths' $9 million fine for ripping off shoppers as part of the laundry detergent cartel

3 June 2016

Consumer group CHOICE has welcomed the Federal Court's decision to fine Woolworths $9 million for its role in the laundry detergent cartel that controlled the supply and pricing of the ultra-concentrates.

The penalty follows the Federal Court's decision in April this year to fine Colgate-Palmolive $18 million for cartel conduct. 

An investigation by the ACCC in late 2013 alleged major laundry detergent manufacturers Colgate, Cussons and Unilever entered into arrangements to cease supplying standard concentrate laundry detergents and transition to ultra-concentrate detergents without passing on cost savings to consumers.

"This fine reflects the seriousness of the charges against Woolworths and should act as a reminder to big business that if you engage in dirty tricks you're going to get cleaned up," says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

"Laundry detergent is a household staple, and since ultra-concentrate detergents are cheaper to produce, store and transport, consumers should have been banking savings in their weekly shop.

"It is concerning that the supermarket giant was knowingly involved in the actions of these manufacturers to manipulate the laundry detergent market with a view to ripping off their customers." 

The $9 million penalty is the largest fine that the court has ordered against a company that acted as an accessory to anti-competitive behaviour in Australia. 

Colgate, Cussons and Unilever produce popular brands of laundry detergent such as Cold Power, Radiant and Omo. 

To read more about laundry detergent price fixing, please visit: https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/laundry-and-cleaning/laundry-detergents/articles/colgate-palmolive-fined-for-price-fixing

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