Investigation into exclusivity discounts by An Post

Outcome of investigation

The Competition Authority (Authority) took the view that An Post likely abused its dominant position, between March 2012 and February 2013, by implementing a Zonal Pricing Scheme that had the same effect as granting an exclusivity discount.

An Post has since addressed these concerns by amending its procedures. The Authority therefore took no action and the investigation was closed.

Outline of case.

In 2013, the Authority began an investigation into the application of An Post’s Zonal Pricing Scheme for users of its Publication Services.

The Publication Services are offered by An Post to publishers of newspapers and periodicals (e.g. magazines and newsletters) that post in excess of 100 items in a single mailing.

The Authority took view that, between March 2012 and February 2013, the way in which the Zonal Pricing Scheme was implemented had the same effect as granting an exclusivity discount. Exclusivity discounts are discounts offered in return for a commitment from the purchaser to acquire all or most of its requirements from the dominant undertaking.

The European Commission and the European Courts have consistently condemned exclusivity discounts or exclusivity rebates (also known as loyalty rebates or fidelity rebates) granted by a dominant undertaking.

Given An Post’s likely dominant position in the relevant market, the Authority considered that the application of the Zonal Pricing Scheme during this period was likely to amount to a breach of competition law.

An Post has since addressed these concerns by amending its procedures. The Authority is satisfied that An Post’s amended procedures for the application of the Zonal Pricing Scheme, introduced in February 2013, address the competition concerns identified during the investigation. The Authority therefore took no action and the investigation was closed.

The Authority published an Enforcement Decision by way of information and explanation of the issues involved. For further information please see our An Post Enforcement Decision (pdf).

Relevant provision

Section 5 of the Competition Act 2002

Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

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