Lexus was fined 87.61 million yuan for monopoly and still increased its price in Shenzhen

 Lexus was fined 87.61 million yuan for monopoly and still increased its price in Shenzhen

In Shenzhen Zhongsheng Lexus 4S store, although the sales staff said that es300h, rx450hl, RX300 and other models have discounts, but the reporter found after understanding that the so-called discount refers to a small price reduction after the model price is increased, rather than a price reduction based on the manufacturers guide price. Therefore, the actual price of the car is not preferential, even tens of thousands of yuan higher than the manufacturers guide price.

Since the implementation of the anti-monopoly law in 2008, dozens of cases have been exposed in the automobile industry. As the victims of monopolistic behaviors such as limiting price reduction or increasing price, consumers should sue the enterprises concerned and ask them to compensate for the difference and loss.

A huge ticket of 87.61 million yuan put Lexus on the wave.

On December 27, 2019, the State Administration of market supervision and Administration issued a decision on administrative punishment of Toyotas monopoly case in China. According to the content, Toyota China was fined 87.613 million yuan and ordered to stop the illegal act due to the price monopoly of its Lexus brand car sales.

As soon as the news came out, it immediately aroused high attention and heated discussion inside and outside the industry. At present, in Chinas automobile market, dealers often limit the price reduction or increase the price of popular models. For the urgent need or love of hot models, consumers sometimes spend tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of yuan higher than the car guide price to buy new cars.

This kind of price monopoly behavior of automobile enterprises and dealers also makes ordinary car purchasers complain incessantly. In my opinion, this kind of price limit and price increase is to take advantage of the fire and destroy the free trade environment of the market. In the face of this situation, we can only choose to buy or go, there is no other way, said Li Qing, a consumer who came to Guangying Auto City in Beijing

Li Qings experience is only a microcosm of the current situation of the vast number of consumers car purchase. With a huge fine of 87.61 million yuan issued, Lexuss price monopoly behavior exposed the long-standing monopoly disease in the automobile industry. Why is it so difficult for consumers to buy cars at a low price? What are the forms of monopoly in the automobile industry? How to go on the road of anti-monopoly in automobile industry in the future? For these peoples concerns, the reporter interviewed a number of industry experts and lawyers.

Multiple means to limit and increase price Lexus has a criminal record?

For a long time, Lexus has declared the sincere hospitality as its unique brand commitment, and always stressed its ingenuity in products and services. But for the price of its models, Lexus is not so calm..

According to the content of the decision on administrative punishment of Jiangsu provincial market supervision and Administration Bureau (sushijian antitrust case [2019] No.1), from June 2015 to February 2018, the regional sales manager of Lexus required the dealers in Jiangsu Province to sell Lexus cars on the Internet platform (car home, e-Car network) in a unified manner according to the The retail price of the model is recommended to be quoted, and the dealer shall not reduce the online quotation without authorization.

At the same time, from 2016 to March 2018, the regional sales manager of Lexus limited the dealers to sell the minimum resale prices of key models such as Lexus es200, es300h, nx200, ct200, rx450, nx300, LX570, LS series, etc. through holding regional cooperation meetings and wechat notifications.

For example, the maximum discount margin of Lexus rx450 shall not exceed 6% of the recommended retail price, the minimum invoice price of es200 elite shall be 273000 yuan, the minimum invoice price of es300h comfortable car shall be 353000 yuan, and the minimum invoice price of nx200 vanguard car shall be 288000 yuan. Nx300, LX570 and LS series all require no cash discount when new models are listed.

Jin Yi, partner and lawyer of Kyoto law firm, said bluntly: Lexus and dealers are in different links of Lexus automobile sales chain, each with independent legal status, and dealers are the counterpart of Lexus transaction. So Lexuss price limit to dealers is clearly illegal.

He pointed out that the act of Lexus to unify the network quotation of dealers and limit the minimum price of resale goods belongs to the monopoly agreement reached and implemented with the counterpart of the transaction, fix the price of resale goods to the third party and limit the minimum price of resale goods to the third party, which violates the provisions of Article 14 of the anti-monopoly law.

In Jin Yis view, Lexuss price fixing behavior is explicitly prohibited by Article 14 of the anti-monopoly law. In this case, knowing the law and breaking the law are serious violations. Lexuss price limit behavior has caused clear damage to fair market competition and consumer interests. Unless Lexus makes a case for immunity, there is no need for a reasonableness analysis, and law enforcement agencies can punish it directly.

In fact, Lexuss price limit and price increase car purchase are not only in Jiangsu Province. In the Chinese market, its no secret that Lexus buys cars at a higher price. In auto home, e-Car, aika and other auto forums, there are lots of posts about Lexus model price increase from netizens asking questions.

It is undeniable that, as the leading enterprise of second-line luxury brands, Lexus models are more popular with Chinese consumers, but using peoples love to do price articles wantonly, which is obviously contrary to the originality of Lexus propaganda. Xia Shu, an independent auto industry commentator, said, this kind of action of taking an inch forward is obviously not worthy of any sympathy. Instead, it needs to be severely cracked down and punished.

How to see through the camouflage of monopoly when similar cases happen frequently

Looking back on the development history of Chinas automobile industry, it will be found that since the implementation of the anti-monopoly law in 2008, there have been dozens of monopoly cases in the automobile industry in China. The frequent monopoly behavior of automobile enterprises and dealers will not only damage the interests of consumers, but also cause serious damage to the order of market economy. So how can we see through the camouflage of monopoly and explore the nature of its illegal?

There are three main forms of monopoly: vertical monopoly agreement, horizontal monopoly agreement and abuse of market dominance. Jin Yi explained, take the case of Lexus price monopoly. Because Lexus and its dealers are in the upstream and downstream of the sales process, Lexus requires dealers to limit prices, which is a vertical monopoly agreement.

In addition to the vertical monopoly agreement, the horizontal monopoly agreement of monopoly cases have occurred in the automobile industry for many times. In 2014, four BMW 4S stores in Wuhan, Hubei Province, changed the PDI testing which was originally pre-sales execution and free of charge into a PDI testing fee that charged consumers a unified fee. This kind of monopoly between dealers is a manifestation of horizontal monopoly agreement. Jin Yi said.

However, the use of the irreplaceable nature of certain products to restrict market transactions or high price transactions belongs to the monopoly of abusing the dominant position of the market. Jin Yi explained: for example, an automobile enterprise stipulates that when repairing and replacing parts, consumers can only replace the parts of their original factory, otherwise they will not be guaranteed. Such behavior belongs to the category of abuse of market dominance.

Tian Jimin, a lawyer from Beijing law firm, said: another form of abuse of market dominance is that enterprises restrict the market to buy new technologies and equipment, or use the uniqueness of their products to sell their products at a price multiple than the market price.

In fact, the monopoly cases of automobile industry have appeared many times in the world. Monopoly is an illegal act in every country. However, in developed countries such as Germany and the United States, the form of monopoly behavior may be more hidden, not as naked as those enterprises in the Chinese market. Therefore, no matter the supervision organization or the consumers, they should learn to distinguish the disguise of these monopoly behaviors, and carry out supervision and reporting in time. Jin Yi reminded.

If there is a clear order to prohibit committing crimes against the wind, the punishment is small or the main reason

The day after the punishment result of Lexus monopoly case was announced, the reporter came to Zhongsheng Lexus 4S store in Shenzhen to conduct field visit and investigation as the buyer.

Because the Zhongsheng Lexus 4S store is famous and large in Shenzhen, there are a lot of consumers who go to the store to choose cars and buy cars at weekends. Pan Yang, a sales consultant, said: as the store will rush performance at the end of the year, there will be preferential activities in our store on December 27 and 28, and many models will have price reductions and discounts.

However, the discounts Pan Yang said are not usually based on the dealers guide price. For cars that need to be increased in price before, the increase may be smaller in these two days, or you can buy them without the increase in price. Pan Yang said.

Take the current popular Lexus es300h as an example, Pan Yang said that in the past, if consumers want to buy the car, they need to increase the price by 30000 yuan on the basis of the manufacturers guidance price. But this weekend, consumers can buy the es300h without increasing the price. During the event, the Lexus rx450hl price was increased by RMB 560000, and the price was reduced by more than 10000. Consumers still need to increase the price by RMB 450000 on the basis of the Lexus rx450hl manufacturers guide price before they can pick up the car.

When we talk about the quotation of automobiles, we dont mean the manufacturers guiding price, but the floor price after the price increase. All discounts are carried out on the basis of this floor price. Sales Consultant Yi Quanyou explained, you and I all know that most Lexus models need to be purchased at a higher price. Compared with other Lexus 4S stores in Shenzhen, the price of our store is cheap and affordable.

When asked about the impact of the Lexus monopoly case on the 4S store, Yi Quanyou said that the Lexus dealers in Jiangsu were punished for making false invoices. When we issue a purchase invoice, we issue the price after the price increase. There is no problem of issuing an invoice in violation of regulations. Even if the price is increased by 500000 yuan, we can make an invoice. So it has nothing to do with us.

Yi Quanyous statement that Lexus was punished for making false invoices is obviously inconsistent with the real content of Lexus price monopoly. In the decision on administrative penalty of Jiangsu provincial market supervision and Administration Bureau, it is clearly pointed out that Lexus unified dealer network quotation and limited the lowest price of resale goods is a violation of the anti-monopoly law, rather than a false invoice to consumers.

On one hand, Lexus and its Jiangsu dealers just received a ticket of 87.61 million yuan, while on the other hand, the Lexus 4S store in Shenzhen continued to increase the price openly. This kind of behavior, which is clearly forbidden to commit crimes against the wind, is really unacceptable to consumers.

The main reason for this situation is that Chinas punishment for automobile monopoly is relatively small. For example, in the case of Lexus price monopoly, the penalty imposed by law enforcement agencies on Lexus was only a fine of 2% of its sales in Jiangsu market in 2016. If the penalty is 2% of Lexus sales in China in 2016, or even 2% of global sales in 2016, the deterrent force for automobile enterprises will be much greater.

Jin Yi said that at present, Chinas supervision institutions have a short period of law enforcement, so for the monopolistic behavior of enterprises, education is the main way and punishment is the auxiliary way. The current situation of low illegal cost also makes some automobile enterprises do not hesitate to take risks for the benefit.

At present, many automobile enterprises are subject to the strict anti-monopoly laws of foreign countries and operate in good faith abroad, but when they come to the Chinese market, they become lawless. Such double standard behavior not only damages the reputation and brand of the enterprise, but also will be punished by law sooner or later. Jin Yi gives advice to automobile enterprises.

In addition, Jin Yi also reminded that since the formulation and implementation of anti-monopoly law are closely related to market competition and economic development of various countries, there is room for interpretation and ambiguity in the law of anti-monopoly law. It is better for automobile enterprises to consult professional lawyers and communicate with competent authorities in a timely manner, so as to clarify the limits and risks of operation, so as to better carry out legal sales operation.

Consumers rights protection and anti-monopoly still need help

With the publicity of Lexus monopoly case, many consumers have a heated discussion on this matter. In particular, some owners of Lexus cars who have increased their prices have expressed strong anger and disappointment at the Lexus brand.

At the Lexus es forum, a netizen named XX sushi posted that because of the Lexus monopoly case, he had already unsubscribed the es300h and displayed the screenshot of the unsubscribed amount. The netizen named fish loving little fish posted a question, the fine is right, but should the owner of the car be compensated? After all, the money for buying a car is everyones hard money.

In fact, when an enterprise is punished for monopolistic behavior, consumers can sue the enterprise for compensation for the difference and loss. If there are a large number of consumers involved, consumers can take public interest litigation of agency nature, which helps to share the cost of litigation and save energy, said Jin Yi

At the same time, Jin Yi suggested that consumers should pay more attention to the monopoly behavior of automobile enterprises in the process of daily car purchase. Once it is found that the enterprise has monopolistic behavior, consumers can report to the local market regulatory authority with the contract, bill and other information of car purchase. For such reports, the supervisory organ will keep secret and give certain rewards.

Tian Jimin said that the draft of the anti monopoly guide for the automobile industry was completed at the end of October 2015 and solicited opinions in March 2016, but it has not yet been finally implemented. Now, the emergence of Lexus monopoly case may accelerate the implementation of anti monopoly guide on the automobile industry.

In Xia Shus view, at present, as there is no strong third-party supervision organization in China, it is just like mayfly shakes the tree that a single consumer wants to sue an automobile enterprise. Huge litigation costs and labor costs are beyond the consumers ability to bear.

Xia Shu suggested that the government should set up a special channel for supervision and reporting, to interact with consumers and mobilize the collective power of consumers, so as to curb and govern the monopoly behavior of automobile enterprises.

Just as there are sunrise people in the field of public security and peoples letters in the field of anti-corruption, so in the field of anti-monopoly, the government can also set up exclusive channels, and consumers can play a supervisory role in the daily process of car selection and purchase. Summer tree explained.

Unlike other illegal acts, monopolistic acts are very unilateral, hidden and hard to detect. As monopoly behavior has a strong destructive effect on market economy, anti-monopoly action is urgent, and the way of anti-monopoly still needs multi assistance. Summer trees say so.

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