Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A British watchdog fined famous guitar company Fender nearly $6 million Wednesday over charges of price-fixing.
The British Competition and Markets Authority said Fender Europe, the subsidiary of Arizona-based Fender, forced vendors to sell guitars at or above the minimum price between 2013 and 2018 -- and limited online discounts for customers.
"This kind of illegal practice, known as resale price maintenance, often leads to customers missing out on the best deals because, even when they shop around, they find all retailers tend to be selling at a similar price," the agency said in a statement.
"The CMA found evidence that Fender on occasion pressured retailers to raise their online prices, after being tipped off that they were not toeing the line."
The fine is part of an effort by European competition agencies to crack down on price-fixing. Electronics company Casio was fined $4.9 million last August related to pricing for its digital pianos and keyboards -- and Philips, Pioneer, Asus and Denon were fined by the European Commission on similar accusations.
"Quite simply, this behavior is against the law," CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli said. "The fact the CMA has imposed large fines on major musical instrument firms Casio and Fender in a matter of months should be a lesson to this industry and any other company considering illegal behavior."