Some 56 Kartellamt employees and 62 police paid official visits to 15 companies because they suspect brand name product manufacturers may be working with retail companies to determine consumer prices on items like coffee, pet food, and candy. This kind of activity is forbidden by German law and offenders could face heavy fines.
“As long as companies or individuals cooperate with Kartellamt investigation of the accusations, the Kartellamt will give consideration to imposing sanctions within a discretionary frame,” the watchdog said in a statement.
Other suspected companies received letters regarding the matter, they confirmed.
Meanwhile the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZVB) demanded that the “ripped off customers” be compensated.
“If the suspicion of the Kartellamt is confirmed, it will shatter the trust of consumers in the social-market economy,” VZVB head Gerd Billen said.