Price Fixing

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An interesting article in the News Telegraph about price fixing among top-level British Prep Schools. (Over there, "Public Schools" are what we call Private Schools -- they are funded by the student's families or scholarships.)
Revealed: how two boys blew whistle on the public school fees 'cartel'
It started after prep one evening. Two mischievous 15-year-olds had managed to hack into the school computer and, bored by humdrum e-mails, were reaching for the "off" button when a file marked "confidential" stopped them in their tracks.

It ended last week with 50 of the country's most prestigious private schools, including Eton, Harrow and Westminster, facing multi-million pound fines after a two-year investigation by the Office of Fair Trading found them guilty of fee collusion and running a price-fixing "cartel".
A bit more:
Correspondence dated November 2001 revealed that Sevenoaks School, Kent, was regularly sending e-mails to bursars around the country providing information on intended fee hikes in an exercise know as the "Sevenoaks Survey".

Reading a line in one e-mail from Bill Organ, Winchester's then bursar, "Confidential, please, so we aren't accused of being a cartel", brought a sudden rush of realisation to the boys, soon to become whistle-blowers.

"I saw fellow classmates having to leave the school because their parents couldn't afford the fees," said Danny.

"At one point my parents, who struggled to keep me at public school, faced an increase in my fees from �10,000 to nearly �15,000 because Winchester, and other schools, thought they could get away with it."

The boys stored the explosive information on a secret laptop. It included an e-mail, dated January 2003, from Stephen Taylor, the bursar of Uppingham, showing bursars' fee predictions. The suggested rises of between six and eight per cent were well above inflation. This was followed by a more comprehensive survey by Julian Patrick, the Sevenoaks bursar, covering fee expectations from 51 schools including Ampleforth, Charterhouse, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Eton, Gordonstoun, Marlborough, Millfield and Wycombe Abbey.

In an e-mail Mr Patrick said: "I believe some bursars may have revised their estimates or have fixed their fees for 2003/04. In my own case I have revised the estimate of day fee increases from nine per cent to 11 per cent."
Hmmm - no mention of Hogwarts in there...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 14, 2005 11:33 AM.

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