The Competition and Markets Authority, which is believed to be actively investigating estate agents’ alleged infringement of the Competitions Act, is using social media to urge people to report cartels which it says “cheat customers.”
The campaign is not tied specifically to estate agent customers, but it follows the announcement earlier this month that the authority is probing an unnamed agency or agencies, following its previous investigation into a cartel case involving agents in the Burnham-on-Sea area of Somerset.
In the Burnham case, Iagents agreed to pay over £370,000 to the CMA after admitting illegal price-fixing.
The latest social media campaign, spotted yesterday on Twitter, says cartels are unfair and explains that in exceptional circumstances people can earn rewards of £100,000 by reporting them.
“[Cartels] cheat customers, who end up paying more for lower quality goods and services. That’s why they are illegal and it’s our job at the CMA to stop them. If you’ve witnessed or been involved in a cartel, tell us about it and help us make markets fairer” says the authority.
“Please get in touch if you’ve seen a cartel in action. Even if you’re not 100% sure, you should still contact us. We’ll keep your identity in the strictest confidence and you could even earn a reward” it adds.
The authority also makes a direct appeal to those in businesses which may be involved in cartels, saying: “If you have been involved with a cartel, speaking to us is the safest thing you can do. Because if you tell us about a cartel before anyone else does, you could avoid fines, director disqualification and even prison.”
The latest CMA investigation into agents is unlikely to produce any update until September.