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Price fixing is the term used to describe an (often illegal) agreement between manufacturers to keep a specified, higher than normal price on products which would normally be competing with each other.

Much price fixing goes undiscovered for some time; when it's uncovered by consumer advocate groups or others, people usually aren't surprised, as they always thought prices for the product/service in question were too high anyway.

In mid-2001, for example, three separate price fixing rackets in Europe were uncovered in the space of a few weeks. The first was strictly an Irish phenomenon, whereby cinema ticket prices were being kept artificially high by a group of Irish cinemas (now £5.90 - more than $6 for a single ticket to a movie). No one was surprised by this; well, the cinemas obviously had to attempt to be surprised

A few weeks later, an announcement was made stating that a 2-year study of mobile phone roaming charges in Europe were being kept too high. It also found that it was incredibly difficult for customers to get a list of roaming charges from their providers. None of this came as any surprise to Europeans, who had known for years not to use their phone abroad unless they had a very healthy bank balance.

Shortly afterwards, a consumer association found that DVD prices in Europe were far higher than could be justified by their costs (they'd already complained about music CDs a few years beforehand). The Matrix DVD in Ireland, for example, costs around the equivalent of $25. This price is similar in other European countries.

Other global examples abound; unfortunately, the topic is not one which immediately attracts much attention from the public, even when mentioned repeatedly in media reports.

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