Ever since the truck cartel scandal broke and the compensation proceedings were launched, there have been constant rumours that it is not worth claiming compensation because there could be “consequences”.
We often hear that “we do not want to claim compensation because we are afraid that our good relationship with the truck dealer will be damaged”.
First of all, a very important distinction needs to be made here. Compensation comes from the truck manufacturers, whereas truck owners are in a relationship with truck dealers.
Some fleet owners also believe that they have not been harmed by the truck manufacturers’ hidden price fixing because “we have always got the best deal”.
Looking only at recent developments on the issue, we see that Royal Mail, BT and Waberer’s have so far reached out-of-court settlements with truck manufacturers in 2023.
Is it fair to assume that these 3 corporate giants have a long history of strategic cooperation with truck manufacturers and have always got the best possible conditions due to their size? Nevertheless, they thought they were eligible for compensation, which they eventually received, but first they had to go through a complicated legal process that took many years.
Do you think the truck manufacturers will now be angry with them?
Not likely, is it?
A few thoughts to help you see things clearly
(1) IS THIS REALLY A “RED LINE” FOR THE TRUCK MANUFACTURERS?
Definitely not! Truck manufacturers have a strong interest in selling their trucks now and in the future. They face intense competition, particularly in challenging market conditions like those in 2023.
Production bottlenecks due to parts shortages are suddenly no longer a problem. More than enough trucks are available for sale. Currently, solvent demand is the problem.
(2) ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGES
It’s unrealistic to expect truck manufacturers to set up a system that identifies companies involved in legal action and instruct their dealers to discriminate against them. This would be a complex task, especially with multiple manufacturers involved. Furthermore, customers often purchased trucks from various manufacturers, making it difficult to implement such discrimination effectively.
(3) AVOIDING ANOTHER SCANDAL
Truck manufacturers have learned from the truck cartel scandal and its consequences. They are unlikely to take any action that would risk further escalation of the biggest anti-competitive case ever. Attempts to hide discriminatory measures are never likely to succeed, as past examples show that such abuses will eventually come to light.
(4) THINK IN NUMBERS
Why should a company with typically 100-500 trucks fear unlawful sanctions when there are 250 000 trucks pending before the Munich District Court alone, and the big players in the transport sector have filed claims for thousands, sometimes more than 10 000 trucks? Moreover, all of them have had and still have impeccable relations with the truck manufacturers. Business is business.
(5) LIMITED ECONOMIC INCENTIVE
Is it even worth it? The answer is clearly no! The potential gains are actually very small. The irony is that the exercise of sanctions would involve enormous risk and organisational difficulties. Paradoxically, simply generating fear of potential sanctions may effectively discourage truck owners from claiming compensation, leaving money on the table for sentimental reasons.
(6) COORDINATION CHALLENGES
What happens if there is no background agreement between all truck manufacturers? The customer buys where he finds better conditions. Only a new cartel (involving all truck manufacturers and their entire dealer network) could sanction buyers.
This is completely unthinkable.