World Blue is accused by rival of violating competitors law

Swiss payment company Global Blue is facing a formal antitrust complaint before EU regulators on allegations that it violates competition law by signing exclusive contracts with merchants aimed at excluding competitors.

Rival Refundit has accused Global Blue of sharing its commission with high-end retailers for signing contracts that exclude competitors, as well as a lack of transparency about the fees customers charge.

Global Blue, which offers tax refunds for travelers with luxury goods, went public last year via a special acquisition vehicle. His supporters include the US private equity group Silver Lake.

Refundit claims that Global Blue’s commissions are “excessive, unfair and opaque” and designed to be in a dominant position.

“Global Blue’s dealer commission and free services offered to major dealers are predatory. The pricing strategy is designed to deter new entrants and discipline the market, thereby further enhancing the economies of scale benefiting dominant Global Blue be strengthened, “reads the complaint that was filed at the EU’s competitive unit in Brussels late Monday.

Refundit, which was co-founded by Israeli serial entrepreneur Uri Levine, claims that Global Blue’s success was due in part to its dominance in the market. In her complaint, she asked the European Commission to intervene and put an end to Global Blue’s alleged anti-competitive behavior.

Levine, who also founded the traffic and navigation app Waze, told the Financial Times that current market dynamics mean that “everyone loses and there is a winner” and that his company wanted a “shift” so that “everyone wins and it.” could be a loser “.

He claimed, “Global Blue built the business in a way that is good for them. It turned to high-end retailers and signed long-term exclusivity agreements. The company imposes enormous fees on tourists that are unknown to the traveler, ”added Levine. “People are happy to get some money back, but they don’t know that the money has very much disappeared in them [opaque] Path.”

In its complaint, Refundit said that the EU should impose a transparency obligation on the Commission, which Global Blue bills travelers. Refundit also wants regulators in Brussels to ban Global Blue from sharing commissions with merchants.

Global Blue said: “We are surprised to learn that Refundit is filing a complaint against Global Blue before the EU. Global Blue is one of many VAT refund operators in a highly competitive market. Global Blue provides a transparent and competitive service to all of its stakeholders, including consumers and retailers. Global Blue is committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations and has a comprehensive policy on compliance with competition law. ”

The European Commission declined to comment.