On February 26, 2021, the FCO closed its investigation of Deutsche Post AG’s (“Deutsche Post”) rebate scheme for addressed newspapers and magazines (“newspaper post”) after Deutsche Post adjusted its pricing policies.[1]

The FCO objected to exclusivity clauses that obliged senders of newspaper post to send their entire newspaper and magazine portfolio via Deutsche Post. In addition, certain volume rebates were granted on the entire volume of newspaper post and not just on the volumes that actually surpassed the relevant threshold. According to the FCO, the latter meant that the clauses disincentivized senders to switch to competing post services and thus had the same effect as illicit exclusivity clauses.

To alleviate the FCO’s concerns, Deutsche Post removed the exclusivity clauses and amended the rebate system. But the FCO still considered that the rebates, specifically the discount amounts and thresholds, contract durations and billing periods, could have the same effect as an exclusivity obligation. Additionally, the FCO could not exclude that the rebates were independent of a specific cost saving measure and therefore discriminatory.

Deutsche Post therefore committed to abandon its rebate system for newspaper post entirely.

Instead, Deutsche Post will negotiate, based on the number of total deliveries expected with that customer, prices for each delivery. The prices must not be below the average cost per delivery. The contracts will run for a minimum of one year and provide sufficiently long termination periods to prevent Deutsche Post from being able to quickly terminate contracts to sanction customers for moving parts of their business to competitors.

Deutsche Post also committed not to discriminate against individual customers. While Deutsche Post will not grant the same price to each customer, it will publish and apply a set of objective parameters to guide pricing negotiations, such as the customer’s expected delivery volumes and specific cost savings (e.g., because the customer presorts the newspaper post or is flexible regarding delivery days).

[1] FCO decision (B9-208/16) of February 26, 2021, a case summary is only available in German here; Press release available in English here.