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What is fair competition?

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 12:22
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When I was growing up, although I am not sure what radio station it was that my parents were always listening to, I recall one segment that I have never forgotten – Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story." It always seemed to make a statement of something that was happening or had happened, but the occurrence was either misunderstood or not completely explained publicly for all to understand. Whether it was the media, the history books or just public consensus, there was always more to the story, or another side to consider.

A statement made by George Avery at the Collision Industry Conference meeting in July fell into the "more-to-this-story" category. The statement was, "One thing the tool does is [introduce] a level of competition to the parts suppliers. I am puzzled when you say you don't want [parts list prices] to come down. Are you suggesting that you don't want competition?"

Tony Passwater

Is this the next attack our industry and the parts industry would have to endure? When did parts list price become a basis of repairers being competitive? If we do not support PartsTrader in our industry as a repairer, does it mean we as an industry don't want competition? If we don't believe it is the right of any third party to influence the marketplace for their benefit alone, does it mean we are un-American?

Competition infers that the game has legitimate rules, and that the rules are transparent and designed according to a standard practice the players uphold, not just for the control and profitability of any third party. In marketplace economics, many of the competitive practices have been established from laws, regulations and rulings, but also as much from a history of penalties, fines and even sentences against those who do not follow the rules.

Market practices such as exclusive dealings, limit pricing, resale price maintenance, tying and price fixing all fall into recognized anti-competitive practices. In addition, practices of coercion, intimidation and fear mongering are also considered violations. The key for a free market economy is not only to prevent anti-competitive practices, but also to prevent outside influences of third parties within the marketplace from changing normal market conditions for their sole benefit. True market competition is often defined as a state that produces gains for the whole economy, not one entity.

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