Fender is facing a class-action lawsuit by a UK consumer advocacy group, alleging it overcharged millions of customers for guitars.
The legal action – which has been reported by The Times – comes after the guitar giant was fined £4.5 million in 2020 for illegally preventing online price discounts.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority – which issued the fine – said that Fender took part in an illegal practice known as resale price maintenance, adding that it found evidence Fender had on occasion “pressurized retailers to raise their online prices, after being tipped off that they were not toeing the line”.
As a result of its actions, “guitar buyers may have paid substantially more for their guitars than they should have”, a new press release states.
The new class-action suit has been brought about by consumer rights campaigner Elisabetta Sciallis and lawyers at global law firm PGMBM, and aims to secure monetary damages for anyone affected by Fender’s actions.
Jeremy Evans, lead lawyer at the firm, explains: “Fender, by their own admission, took part in this price fixing activity which meant people buying their products either online or in a shop would have had to pay significantly more than normally the case. This will have impacted on people buying other makes of guitars as the price of other manufacturers’ models will also have been driven up.
“We are estimating that the average customer will have paid significantly more than normal market value for guitars during this period as a result of the price management policy Fender operated.”
He continues: “This will have affected schools buying instruments for their pupils to learn [with], budding musicians struggling to make ends meet while they gig in pubs and clubs, not just high-flying rock stars and bands.
“Now Fender has been called out, we want those affected to be able to claim damages as a result of this action so they can reduce the financial impact of this activity.”
PGMBM encourages anyone who bought a guitar between January 13 2013 and April 17 2019 to register their interest in the claim. It says claims can also be made on behalf of anyone who has since passed away, as well as customers who purchased a guitar from outside the UK.
A spokesman for Fender told The Times that it was company policy not to comment on any on-going legal matters.