Walmart and Energizer conspired to inflate battery prices, lawsuits

  • Energizer was “under pressure from Walmart” to make sure no one undersold batteries, according to three lawsuits.
  • The lawsuits allege Energizer inflated wholesale battery prices for Walmart’s competitors.
  • A key part of Walmart’s business strategy is the “everyday low price”.

Walmart and battery maker Energizer conspired to force other retailers to sell Energizer’s popular disposable batteries at higher prices than they otherwise would, according to three new lawsuits.

In separate court filings, a battery seller and two consumer groups allege that Walmart and Energizer violated antitrust and consumer protection laws as early as January 2018. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for their cases, which they have filed in the United States. District Court for the Northern District of California in late April.

The lawsuits allege that in exchange for Walmart giving “preferential treatment” to Energizer in its stores, Energizer agreed to a scheme to “artificially inflate the wholesale prices it charged Walmart’s competitors for Energizer battery products. to prevent them from undercutting Walmart’s retail prices.” They further allege that as a result, battery prices from Energizer’s main rival, Duracell, were also artificially inflated. Duracell is not a defendant in the cases.

Moreover, the lawsuits say that “under pressure from Walmart”, Energizer monitored Walmart’s competitors to make sure they weren’t charging lower prices for their product – and to “discipline” those who did.

The plaintiffs say that to follow through on the deal, Energizer created a group called Project Atlas. The group “controlled retail prices for Energizer customers and increased wholesale prices as necessary to force Energizer customers to maintain retail prices that were not lower than Walmart’s,” according to the lawsuits.

In response to the lawsuits, a Walmart spokesperson told Insider via email, “We take allegations like this seriously and will respond in court if appropriate.”

Energizer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

THE The lead plaintiff in the retail lawsuit is Portable Power Inc., reports Reuters. According to its filing, Portable Power is a San Francisco company that sold batteries on Amazon as HB Wholesale.

A key part of Walmart’s business strategy, whether selling food or other products, is “everyday low prices.” Simply put, Walmart is trying to charge customers less for its products.

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