January 16, 2013

E. L. Eversman on Antitrust

The collision repair industry is rife with comments about antitrust activities and what constitutes antitrust behaviors. Body shop owners receive notices from insurers constantly that assert that discussing prices with competitors is a violation of the antitrust laws and may render them liable for violations of those laws.

This is true in the cliché antitrust scenario in which a group of body shop owners meet in a dark room and secretly agree that each will charge $70 per hour for body labor and none will ever charge less than that amount. Shops, however, are often unnecessarily concerned that ordinary conversation with others in the industry can expose them to antitrust liability. Yet, as long as shops steer clear of agreeing to set uniform rates or limitations on productivity or provide “courtesy estimates,” they should feel comfortable attending trade association meetings and enjoying discussing the rigors of their industry with other participants.

What’s Actionable

In relation to the antitrust laws, collision repairers need to remember that they have an obligation to avoid artificially inflating the price of repair costs. On the other hand, business costs and inflation continue to rise, and repairers need to be able to charge a price that enables them to meet costs and make a profit. Unreasonable interference with those prices that drives collision repairers to substantially lower the quality of repairs provided and harm consumer safety, or which are designed to deliberately drive competitors from the marketplace, may well be actionable under the antitrust laws.   Read the entire article here from BodyShop Business

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