Case settled: U-Haul tried to fix truck rental prices by talking to Budget

The Federal Trade Commission approved a final order settling allegations that U-Haul invited its main competitor, Budget, to fix truck-rental prices.

The settlement, which followed a public comment period, bars U-Haul and its parent company, AMERCO, from colluding or inviting collusion. Under the settlement, AMERCO agreed to a 20-year order that includes monitoring to ensure the company doesn't make any further attempts to collude with competitors at consumer expense.

"It's a bedrock principle that you can't conspire with your competitors to fix prices -- and shouldn't even try," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a written statement in June when the settlement was first announced. "Consumers deserve better. The order announced today will ensure that U-Haul will not try it again."

U-Haul and Budget control more than 70% of the self-moving truck rental business, and between 2006 and 2008, the FTC charged, U-Haul tried to hike the cost of one-way truck rentals in conversations with Budget. The FTC quoted a memo sent by U-Haul CEO Edward J. Shoen that noted competition from Budget was driving down U-Haul's prices.

"Budget continues in some markets to undercut us on One-Way rates," the memo said. "Either get below them or go up to a fair rate. Whatever you do, LET BUDGET KNOW. Contact a large Budget Dealer and tell them. Contact their company store and let the manager know."

As reported in June, FTC spokesman Mitch Katz told Consumer Ally the commission didn't seek a penalty against U-Haul because it failed to make a deal with Budget.

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