Chances are you’ve noticed two neighbouring gas stations charging identical prices. It’s also common to see sudden price increases, for example, on a Friday before a long weekend. In both cases, this is usually a normal response to market forces.
Gas stations are free to charge the same or similar prices as long as the station owners or operators have not agreed to do so.
Since consumers are very sensitive to price, gas stations often strive to meet or beat their competitors' posted prices so they do not lose customers. As a result, competing gas stations often charge similar or identical prices.
However, under the Competition Act, behaviour such as price-fixing, which is when competitors mutually agree to set prices, is against the law. To convict someone of price-fixing, we need to prove it. For that, we need evidence that shows they agreed to set prices.
Our role: Investigate
The Bureau’s role is to investigate and take action if we find evidence of illegal practices in a gasoline market such as price-fixing, market allocation, restricting supply, or other anti-competitive behaviour.
How you can help
We take reports of price-fixing or anti-competitive behaviour seriously and we review them carefully.
If you have information regarding any company or gas station agreeing to set prices, call us at 1-800-343-5358 or contact us online.
Before contacting us, remember the mere fact of prices moving in unison is not proof of price-fixing. In fact, there may be valid market forces causing gas prices in a given area to be similar. It is not illegal for gas stations to charge the same or similar prices as long as the station owners or operators have not agreed to do so.
If you work in the gasoline industry and suspect that your employer has an illegal agreement with its competitors
If you tell us that you suspect your employer has agreed to set retail gas (or any) prices with competitors, you can ask us to keep your identity secret. Under the Competition Act, your employer cannot dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass, or otherwise disadvantage you, or deny you a benefit of employment because you provided information under the whistleblowing program that was given in good faith and that you reasonably believe to be true.
If you are involved in an illegal agreement
If you come forward with information about an illegal agreement that you are involved in and you help our investigation and any resulting prosecution, you may receive immunity or favourable treatment (leniency) in exchange for your full cooperation.