021-0115

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BEFORE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

COMMISSIONERS:
Timothy J. Muris, Chairman
Sheila F. Anthony
Mozelle W. Thompson
Orson Swindle
Thomas B. Leary
In the Matter of

Indiana Household Movers and Warehousemen, Inc., a corporation.

Docket No. C-4077

COMPLAINT

Pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C.  41, et seq.) and by virtue of the authority vested in it by said Act, the Federal Trade Commission, having reason to believe that Indiana Household Movers and Warehousemen, Inc. (hereinafter sometimes referred to as "respondent" or "IHM&W"), a corporation, has violated and is now violating the provisions of Section 5 of said Act, and it appearing to the Commission that a proceeding by it in respect thereof would be in the public interest, hereby issues its complaint stating its charges as follows:

PARAGRAPH 1. Respondent Indiana Household Movers and Warehousemen, Inc. is a corporation organized, existing and doing business under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Indiana, with its office and principal place of business located at 3039 West 39th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46228-3282.

PARAGRAPH 2. Respondent is an association organized for and serving its members' interests, including their economic interests, by promoting, fostering and advancing the household goods moving industry in the State of Indiana. One of the primary functions of respondent is the initiation, preparation, development, dissemination and filing with the Indiana Department of Revenue of tariffs and supplements thereto on behalf of and as agent for its members. Said tariffs and supplements contain rates and charges for the intrastate and local transportation of household goods and for related services including, inter alia, transporting bulky articles; packing boxes and crates; and extra charges for elevator, stair and long distance carrying of items. (For purposes of this complaint the term "tariff" means the publication stating the rates of a carrier for the transportation of property between points within the State of Indiana, including updates, revisions, and/or amendments, including general rules and regulations.)

PARAGRAPH 3. Pursuant to Indiana state law, each household goods mover is required to file a tariff with the Indiana Department of Revenue containing the carrier's rates, fares or charges for the intrastate transportation of household goods. By Indiana law, a household goods mover is not permitted to charge a different rate, fare or charge other than those contained in its tariff or supplements thereto once the Department of Revenue has accepted it.

PARAGRAPH 4. Members of respondent are engaged, inter alia, in the business of providing transportation and other services for compensation as household goods movers between points within the State of Indiana. Except to the extent that competition has been restrained as herein alleged, members of respondent have been and are now in competition among themselves and with other household goods movers.

PARAGRAPH 5. The membership of IHM&W consists of approximately 70 household goods movers who conduct business within the State of Indiana. IHM&W members receive compensation for intrastate and local moves. Members of IHM&W are entitled to and do, among other things, vote for and elect the directors of the association. The control, direction and management of IHM&W is vested in the directors who elect a President, Vice President and Treasurer to carry on the day-to-day administration and management of IHM&W.

PARAGRAPH 6. The acts and practices of respondent set forth in Paragraph Seven have been and are now in or affecting commerce as "commerce" is defined in the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended, and respondent is subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission. Among other things, the aforesaid acts and practices:

(A) Affect the flow of substantial sums of money from the federal government, business and other private parties to the respondent's members for rendering transportation services, which money flows across state lines;
 
(B) Affect the purchase and utilization of equipment and other goods and services by respondent's members which are shipped in interstate commerce;
 
(C) Include the use of the United States mail and other instruments of interstate commerce in furthering the agreements described below; and
 
(D) Are supported by the receipt of dues and fees for publications and services from out-of-state members and others.

PARAGRAPH 7. For many years and continuing up to and including the date of the filing of this complaint, respondent, its members, officers and directors and others have agreed to engage, and have engaged, in a combination and conspiracy, an agreement, concerted action or unfair and unlawful acts, policies and practices, the purpose or effect of which is, was or may be, to unlawfully hinder, restrain, restrict, suppress or eliminate competition among household goods movers in the intrastate Indiana household goods moving industry.

Pursuant to, and in furtherance of, said agreement and concert of action, respondent, its members and others have engaged and continue to engage in the following acts, policies and practices, among others:

(A) Initiating, preparing, developing, disseminating, and taking other actions to establish and maintain collective rates, which have the purpose or effect of fixing, establishing, stabilizing or otherwise tampering with rates and charges for the transportation of household goods between points within the State of Indiana;
 
(B) Participating in and continuing to participate in the collectively set rates;
 
(C) Filing collectively set rates with the Indiana Department of Revenue; and
 
(D) Initiating, organizing, coordinating and conducting meetings or providing a forum for any discussion or agreement between competing carriers concerning or affecting intrastate rates charged or proposed to be charged for the intrastate transportation of household goods; or otherwise influencing its members to raise their rates, charge the same or uniform rates, participate in or continue to participate in the collectively set rates.

PARAGRAPH 8. The acts and practices of respondent, its members and others, as alleged in Paragraph Seven, have had and are now having the effects, among others, of:

(A) Raising, fixing, stabilizing, pegging, maintaining, or otherwise interfering or tampering with the prices of household goods moves;
 
(B) Restricting, restraining, hindering, preventing or frustrating price competition in the household goods moving industry; and
 
(C) Depriving consumers of the benefits of competition.

PARAGRAPH 9. The acts, policies and practices of respondent, its members and others, as herein alleged, were and are to the prejudice and injury of the public and constituted and constitute unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as amended. The acts and practices, as herein alleged, are continuing and will continue in the absence of the relief herein requested.

WHEREFORE, THE PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Federal Trade Commission on this twenty-fifth day of April, 2003, issues its complaint against IHM&W.

By the Commission.

Donald S. Clark
Secretary

SEAL