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Attorney General
Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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Price Fixing or Bid Rigging Determination

If any person knows or suspects that competitors, suppliers or even an employer are violating the law, that person should alert the DC Office of Attorney General (OAG) or federal antitrust authorities so that they can determine whether to investigate. If the information concerns suppliers who do business with the District government, or seek District government business, the District's inspector general should also be notified.

Price-fixing, bid-rigging and similar conspiracies are most likely to occur where there are relatively few sellers who have to get together to agree. The larger the group of sellers, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement and enforce it.

Keep an eye out for telltale signs, including:

  • any evidence that two or more competing sellers of similar products have agreed to price their products a certain way, to sell only a certain amount of their product or to sell only in certain areas or to certain customers;
  • large price changes involving more than one seller of very similar products of different brands, particularly if the price changes are of an equal amount and occur at about the same time;
  • suspicious statements from a seller suggesting that only one firm can sell to a particular customer or type of customer;
  • fewer competitors than normal submit bids on a project;
  • identical bids submitted by competitors;
  • the same company repeatedly has been the low bidder on contracts for a certain product or service or in a particular area;bidders seem to win bids on a fixed rotation;
  • an unusual and unexplainable large dollar difference between the winning bid and all other bids; or
  • the same bidder bids substantially higher on some bids than on others, and there is no logical cost reason to explain the difference.

These signs are by no means conclusive evidence of price fixing or bid rigging. More investigation by trained lawyers and investigators would be required to determine that. But they may be an indication of collusion, and the people who enforce the competition laws want to hear about them.