Commerce Commission

Countdown tries to call out Clayton Cosgrove

The circus that is Countdown’s strategy of attacking a Parliamentary Select Committee is yet another turn in the ongoing PR disaster for Progressive Enterprises and its Australian owner Woolworths.

Seems the bosses at Countdown now think they’ve got bigger stones than the New Zealand Parliament.

Last night Labour’s bully-boy Clayton Cosgrove tried to give a slapping to Countdown over writing a letter to the Commerce Committee seeking information about the committee’s hearing when the Commerce Commission appeared before it.

Countdown’s now saying they only sent the letter to the Commerce Committee because they were “only able to rely on media reports of what happened”.

Sounds like more porkies from Countdown.

Does Countdown really expect us to believe that they didn’t have someone sitting in the committee room recording the conversation, taking notes of who said what and other observations of the committee?

Have they never heard of the Select Committee News (SCN) service?

Every other corporate in NZ does this, so why would Countdown be any different? Especially having such an experienced lobbyist as Sue Wood representing them.    Read more »

Countdown copping more heat, this time for bullying competitors

RadioLive is reporting that there are more claims of aggressive bullying from Progressive Enterprises, this time against competitors.

Under-fire supermarket owner, Progressive Enterprises, is facing fresh claims of aggressive tactics.

Treatment of suppliers by the Countdown chain, which is owned by Progressive, is currently under investigation by the Commerce Commission following allegations by Labour MP Shane Jones.

Now, CEO of the Mad Butcher, Michael Morton told The Nation, Countdown does not just bully its suppliers but also its competitors.

“I believe they have a cultural billing within the whole organisation,” he said.

“If you look to the information that came out and the allegations that were made about the supply and the tactics that were done there. The fact that when we do any comparative advertising to them, we get smashed with lawyers letters. They come down like a sledge hammer.”   Read more »

Seriously Craig, don’t you know you are getting played?

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Word out of the Beehive is that Minister of Commerce Craig Foss is getting played.

By whom you ask? Well, by none other than our local Countdown Mafia, Progressive Enterprises.

With Labour’s Clayton Crosgrove giving Fossie a slap in the chook, highlighting to the Commerce Minister that it’s not a good look running Countdown’s lines that a voluntary code of conduct for supermarkets is the answer to their bullying of local suppliers.

Craig Foss doesn’t seem to get it that having secret meeting with two of the main protagonists screwing over local Kiwi suppliers (Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs) – all the while the Commerce Commission is investigating their activities – is slightly on the nose.

But you have to give it Countdown/Progressive Enterprises for their sheer rat-cunning attempt to shift the focus off, what should be a very intrusive Commerce Commission investigation, to a fluffy PR initiative and having a Minister talk about a voluntary code of conduct for them.

Maybe Progressive Enterprises’ lobbyist Sue Wood has given Fossie a rev up, telling him it’s not a good look to have a big supermarket look bad.  Read more »

Countdown just can’t win

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I’ve lost count of the number of weeks it’s been with Countdown being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Their PR spin team of Kate Porter, her boss Richard Manaton and PR consultant Sue Wood really must not give a tinkers’ cuss about how Countdown’s reputation is going down the gurgler with the NZ public.

With a Commerce Commission investigation heating up against Countdown, they don’t seem to care that they’re now seen as bullying and threatening local councils over their local alcohol policies.

Seems Countdown doesn’t care about local communities, just about their bottom line.

Either that or they’re pissed at being given a slap for selling booze to a man so completely off his chops he could hardly stand, and think they’re right and everyone else is wrong.

Then today, Countdown faces another test of its credibility with apples and peaches sold in their supermarkets at risk of Hep A. Granted, it’s not only limited to Countdown, but they’re in the thick of it none the less. Here’s the public health advisory.

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The public grow tired of companies that seem to think they’re better than everyone else, and tend to take their business elsewhere. No wonder Pak N Save is winning.

Labour wants to tax ISPs, watch them tax you in return with higher charges

Labour continue to show what a bunch of muppets they are with their ICT policy that was inadvertently leaked to National showing they want to tax ISPs.

It shows their complete lack of business acumen. They are suggesting a tax on the entire internet via ISPs.

Any cost lumped onto a business like an ISP is simply going to be passed straight onto the customer leading to higher charges.

Telecom is bristling at the suggestion Labour could impose a “content levy” on internet providers.

Labour was left red-faced today after MP Clare Curran’s ideas on ICT policy were accidentally emailed to her National Party counterpart, Communications Minister Amy Adams.

These include imposing a revenue-based levy on telecommunications carriers to create a contestable fund to support the “creation and accessible distribution of New Zealand digital content”.

Another suggestion is a “digital bill of rights” policed by the Human Rights Commission that would “guarantee a citizen privacy”.

Curran, who is associate communications and information technology spokeswoman and Labour’s spokeswoman on “open government”, said the ideas titled “ICT Policy Framework 2014” were sent to Adams’ office this morning. She did not personally send the email, she said.   Read more »

Countdown now facing enquiry by the Commerce Commission

Life is getting very tough for Countdown now.

Shane Jones alleged standover and mafioso like tactics from Countdown in a speech in parliament. Now he has laid his complaint with the Commerce Commission.

The Commission has announced an inquiry.

The Commerce Commission has confirmed it is formally investigating the allegations of anti-competitive behavior towards suppliers by Countdown.

The investigation will involve seeking a wide range of information from a variety of sources, including organisations from all areas of the supermarket sector. The investigation is expected to take a number of months.  Read more »

Suppliers fearful of retaliation – Shane Jones

Nice to see Shane Jones doing something constructive with his time, defending the livelihoods of NZ suppliers to NZ and Australian supermarkets.

Under the cover of parliamentary privilege this afternoon, Mr Jones asked Commerce Minister Craig Foss whether he was “concerned that despite anonymity… New Zealand based suppliers are fearful that what they tell the regulator could be passed on to [Countdown parent company] the Australian Woolworths supermarket chain and they could end up blacklisted off Australian supermarket shelves”.

Mr Foss pointed to the commission’s press release last week “reinforcing the confidential nature of any complaint”.

“The Commerce Commission, as part of their normal business, are dealing with sensitive affairs at all times and as in their press released treat matters in confidence and very sensitively”.

Jones has been asked to repeat his accusations outside of parliament, but it turns out that he was prevented from making more details public

Mr Jones’ questions followed his successful bid this afternoon to have Parliament authorise the public release of his letter of complaint to the commission. The letter was tabled in Parliament last week but Clerk of the House Mary Harris deemed the risk of defamation action against her office too great if she was to release it more widely than just to MPs.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters moved that the House order the Clerk of the House release the letter, a motion that was passed without opposition.   Read more »

Commerce Commission seeks to break Countdown’s OmertĂ 

The Commerce Commission has announced they are offering confidentiality now as they investigate Countdown’s tactics.

This will allow the suppliers to safely speak outside of the Omertà arrangements that are clearly in place with suppliers too afraid to speak up.

The Commerce Commission confirmed yesterday that it is assessing alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown towards their suppliers.

The Commission advises that anyone who has information relevant to the allegations can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.  Read more »

Shane Jones launches attack against Countdown’s mafioso tactics

We have been writing about Countdown’s mafioso tactics for weeks now and yesterday Shane Jones went to town on Countdown in parliament.

The NZ Herald reports:

Progressive Enterprises has shot back at Labour MP Shane Jones after he claimed in Parliament that New Zealand suppliers are being blackmailed into making payments to Australian owned supermarket chain Countdown to ensure their products continue to be stocked.

There are a lot of suppliers, I’ve spoken to some too, either they are suffering a mass delusion with remarkably similar stories, or they are telling the truth. Progressive Enterprises can categorically deny this all they like but there are too many instances for this to be a mass delusion. Using trite press releases to try and counter facts and details won’t work. Fessing up is now the only option.  Read more »

Rodney Hide on Chorus

Rodney Hide has a good article in the NBR about Chorus [paywalled], Matthew Hooton’s corporate wrecking crew and businesses exposed to government meddling.

I was reminded of Professor Ron Johnson when National talked up the Big Idea of the 2008 election: its promise to spend $1.5 billion kick-starting ultra-fast broadband. It showed National having vision, National proving tech savvy and National switched on to the needs of modern business and young voters.

Oh, and National would enlist private enterprise to deliver, so putting distance between Muldoon’s disastrous policies and modern National. The government would simply set the contracts and provide the money. That showed National had learned and could still “Think Big” while valuing private enterprise.

The policy has proved what every free-market thinker feared: a political, economic and technologic cluster bomb. Telcos – and potential telcos – focused on lobbying, not providing service; the policy chilled investment and development as business had to await government decisions; and politics now dominates and dictates telecommunications.  Read more »