Fender guitar buyers could receive partial refund as legal action is launched

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Guitar buyers could receive a partial refund as legal action is launched against Fender for price fixing

  • Famous Fender guitar users include Eric Clapton and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain 
  • Fender was fined £4.5m in 2020 after it admitted to engaging in price fixing 
  • Legal firm PGMBM said it has now issued proceedings against the company

Millions of Fender guitar owners could be in line to receive compensation for being overcharged when purchasing their instrument, lawyers claim.

A class-action lawsuit has been brought against the European and US divisions of Fender, whose guitars have been used by some of rock music’s greatest stars, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Kurt Cobain.

Two years ago, the musical instruments manufacturer was fined £4.5million by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority after it admitted to engaging in price-fixing over a five-year period.

Penalty: Two years ago, guitar maker Fender was fined £4.5million by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it admitted to engaging in price-fixing

The company was found to have broken competition law by requiring retailers to sell guitars costing between £500 and £45,000 at a minimum price – an illegal practice known as resale price maintenance.

It also prevented them from discounting online prices, meaning that when shoppers looked around for guitars, they found that different retailers tended to sell their wares at similar prices.

During the course of the probe, the CMA also discovered that Fender had often pressured firms to raise their online prices while certain employees had attempted to cover up their actions by writing down as little as possible.

Following on from that investigation, legal firm PGMBM said it has now issued proceedings against the California-based business in an attempt to get ‘damage payments’ to customers.

It will be instructed in the case by Elisabetta Sciallis, a lawyer who is the principal policy adviser of consumer organisation Which?.

As well as those who purchased Fender guitars between January 2013 and April 2019, anybody who bought a guitar from a separate manufacturer could also be entitled to receive a payout.

Legend: Famous players of the Fender Stratocaster include Bob Dylan, whose decision to use such an instrument at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 received a cold reaction from his fans

Legend: Famous players of the Fender Stratocaster include Bob Dylan, whose decision to use such an instrument at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 received a cold reaction from his fans

Jeremy Evans, the lead lawyer in the case, explained: ‘Fender, by their own admission, took part in this price-fixing activity which meant people buying their products either online or in a shop would have had to pay significantly more than normally the case.

‘This will have impacted on people buying other makes of guitars as the price of other manufacturers’ models will also have been driven up.

‘We are estimating that the average customer will have paid significantly more than normal market value for guitars during this period as a result of the price management policy Fender operated.’

Founded just after World War II by Clarence Leonidas Fender, the firm’s name became synonymous with the electric guitar when it brought out the Stratocaster model just as rock and roll music was becoming a form of mass entertainment.

Buddy Holly was a prominent early user of the Stratocaster before his tragic death in a plane accident, as was Bob Dylan, whose decision to use the instrument at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 received a cold reaction from his fans.

Since then, the guitar has been used to compose some of popular music’s most famous songs, including Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits, and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.

Fender told This is Money that it would not comment on any ongoing legal matters.  

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