Commerce Commission

Bully Boys at Countdown throw their toys out of the cot

After being busted by their suppliers for mafia style stand-over tactics and trying to run a whispering campaign against anyone who welched on them to the Commerce Commission, Countdown are now throwing their toys out of the cot and refusing to attend the Food & Grocery Council conference laters in the year.

There were rumbles around the bar leaners at last years conference from suppliers about Countdown’s behaviour, and it has come to a head this year. They only have themselves to blame, but they continue to blame the industry representative group and have former National party president Sue Wood running around putting pressure on people.

The latest tactic to pressure the FGC into silence is to withdraw from the conference.

I’m pretty sure that Foodstuffs will be pleased with that, having unfettered access to all the suppliers in a convivial atmosphere without the interference of the team from Countdown.

Dave Chambers seriously needs to get a grip and stop playing the bear in the pit. Whilst a few dogs will get mauled ultimately the bear winds up dead.

Supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises will snub its suppliers’ annual industry conference because it has been stung by allegations it bullied them, the Australian-owned company that runs the Countdown chain has confirmed.

But suppliers are reporting an improvement in their relationship with Progressive, says the Food and Grocery Council (FGC).

The council, which represents suppliers, backed claims made in Parliament early this year by then Labour MP Shane Jones that Progressive was demanding retrospective payments from suppliers under threat of having their products removed from supermarket shelves.    Read more »

New job for Clayton Cosgrove?

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2014 has been an unmitigated disaster for supermarket giant Countdown.

With the Commerce Commission’s investigation in full swing and, from what I’m hearing they’re leaning towards believing the suppliers over the bullies at Countdown’s head office, things are not going well for NZ boss Dave Chambers.

Maybe Dave Chambers would like to try the stunt its owners at Woolworths are now watching roll out in Australia with its arch rival Coles.

Coles has decided it needs to “rebuild bridges with grocery suppliers” and has hired former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett to oversee a new supplier charter.   Read more »

Countdown proves they are bullies, now posturing against the FGC

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2014 has been a fiasco for supermarket bully Countdown.

It kicked off the year bullying Kiwi suppliers with threats of being black-listed unless they ponied up with additional payments.

Then Countdown tried to call Shane Jones and Clayton Cosgrove’s bluff by sending threatening letters to the Commission Committee.

After the Commerce Commission announced there was sufficient evidence to launch an inquiry into Countdown’s behaviours, the company decided a new PR offensive was needed.

They fly in their Australian boss Ralph Waters, who then conveniently forgot about 15,000 of their “team members” and said it was a case of Aussie bashing.

Wheeling in an Australian boss to tell Kiwis they had it all wrong worked well for them with WOBH’s supermarket sources saying Countdown’s market share taking a hammering.  Read more »

Are Woolworths Aussie owners getting ready to dump Countdown managers?

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Via the tip-line

Countdown’s ongoing PR debacle seems to be taking a nasty twist with rumours out of Australia saying the Aussies are preparing to throw Dave Chambers and the NZ management team under the bus.

Word reaching WOBH is that Woolworths are undertaking “research” on NZ suppliers – specifically asking what suppliers think of the managers of Countdown.

Now you could pass this off as usual market research to help understand how the company is perceived with its customers and suppliers. Nothing to see here, move on.

But when taken in light of the Commerce Commission investigation into Countdown’s Godfather tactics with NZ suppliers, a more sinister element starts to emerge.   Read more »

Dobbing in rorting ratbags

Finally someone ready to take their head out of the sand to attempt to address the cartel behaviours of the construction material suppliers.

Anne Gibson reports:

The Commerce Commission is so concerned about construction industry cartels, price-fixing and bid-rigging that it has launched a website calling for whistleblowers.

Kate Morrison, the commission’s competition general manager, said the site -construction.comcom.govt.nz – went live partly as a result of Canterbury’s rebuild but also Auckland’s busy building sector.

“It is widely acknowledged internationally that corruption, fraud and anti-competitive practices, for example price-fixing, bid-rigging and market sharing, occur after natural disasters.”

And it wasn’t just Canterbury; rorts could be widespread in other parts of the country.

“The idea for a website arose from our work with the sector in the last few years. We saw a need for a user-friendly guide specifically tailored to the needs of construction businesses and workers to help them understand and comply with the laws we enforce.”

Read more »

Greedy ISPs refusing to pass on savings

Matthew Hooton and a collection of greedy ISPs mounted a campaign to lower the core costs of broadband…labelling the higher prices a “Copper Tax”.

Now that prices have dropped those same ISPs, who were saying that consumers would pay higher prices, aren’t passing on those savings to consumers.

The whole campaign was a fraud and now it is revealed as such.

Hamish Fletcher reports:

Internet companies will enjoy a reduction in some of their wholesale costs in December but aren’t committed to passing on these savings directly to consumers then.

Cuts to what infrastructure company Chorus charges internet retailers like Vodafone and Orcon for some wholesale copper-line broadband services are due to come into effect on December 1.

While two different price changes made by the Commerce Commission will come in on that day, Chorus has requested a wider review of both sets of prices from the regulator.

Although it had been aiming to have both reviews completed by the time the new pricing came into force, the commission on Thursday said it now planned to have a draft decision on both sets of prices by December and a final decision in April.

This means the price change will be in effect for at least four months before any possible change the commission could make in its final rulings.

But while internet providers will enjoy some lower wholesale costs over this time, none are committing themselves to lower prices for customers straight away in December.

Maybe Chorus should employ Hooton to put the acid back on the ISPs, what a surprise they aren’t passing on the savings.    Read more »

Oh dear, sounds familiar here too

Coles

I’ve forgotten how many weeks it’s been for Countdown’s PR mess thanks to Shane Jones’s exposing their mafia stand-over tactics against Kiwi suppliers.

Now we see Australian supermarket giant Coles up s**t-creek without a paddle.

The Australian watchdog the ACCC has fired a 50cal Gatling gun against this supermarket for similar tactics Countdown is under the pump in New Zealand for.

“The ACCC alleges that in relation to 200 of its smaller suppliers, Coles required agreement by the supplier to the rebate within a matter of days.  If these suppliers declined to agree to pay the rebate, Coles personnel were allegedly instructed to escalate the matter to more senior staff, and to threaten commercial consequences if the supplier did not agree.  The ACCC alleges that, in a number of cases, threats were made when suppliers declined to agree to pay the rebate.    Read more »

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 »