Energizer and Walmart are facing a proposed class action accusing them of conspiring to artificially inflate wholesale and retail prices of disposable batteries in violation of US antitrust law.
According to Reuters, the two companies have asked a US judge to dismiss the lawsuit and defense lawyers for the two companies argued that the plaintiffs in the case have failed to provide any factual basis to support their claim. The lawsuits allege Energizer, facing pressure from Walmart, agreed to raise the wholesale prices it charged to other direct-purchase customers in order to allow Walmart to offer lower retail prices.
Lawyers for Energizer and Walmart, N/A, states: “‘All the conduct they point to is entirely consistent with rational, unilateral business conduct and does not support an inference of conspiracy.'” Plaintiffs’ lawyers said Walmart was Energizer’s largest customer and that they devised a scheme ‘to slow price decline and ensure that both companies could charge higher-than-competitive prices’ for Energizer products.
The complaints allege that Energizer set up an internal team dubbed ‘Project Atlas’ to help ensure Walmart’s disposable battery prices were lower than competitors’ prices. The plaintiffs contend the team ‘warned retailers that tried to undersell Walmart that they had to match or exceed Walmart’s prices.’
The lawsuits are seeking compensatory and triple damages as well as a court order compelling Walmart and Energizer ‘to take affirmative steps to dissipate the continuing effects of their prior unlawful conduct.’
The accusation of price fixing between Energizer and Walmart brings into question the validity of their competitive advantages and customer loyalty. There is an increasing need for transparency in the pricing of goods and services so customers know that they are really getting the best deal possible. As the case progresses, it will be important for the judge to consider the facts and evidence presented in these class actions. We will have to wait and see how these proceedings develop and the outcome for Energizer and Walmart.