United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. are under scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department over whether they broke antitrust law by refusing the deal with shipping consultants.
The department is focusing on whether the two largest package delivery companies are working to prevent clients from using third-party shipping consultants and negotiators, said Maxwell Blecher, an antitrust attorney representing shipping consultant AFMS Logistics Management.
UPS and FedEx said they were aware of the investigation.
Blecher said he had been contacted by a Justice Department attorney who had looked at a complaint AFMS filed in August. He arranged for the department's antitrust division to talk to AFMS CEO Mike Erickson.
Erickson told Reuters that he talked to the Justice Department three or four weeks ago. "They asked a lot of questions that pertained to antitrust activity but also other things," he said.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
"We are aware of the investigation," said FedEx spokesman Maury Lane. "We encourage our customers to work directly with us to determine the best FedEx service, shipping solutions and rate structure for them," added Lane.
Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokeswoman, said a preliminary investigation began in mid-November. "They had asked UPS to respond voluntarily to questions and give them information on our policies."
Rosenberg said that FedEx and UPS compete aggressively. "We think pretty much the notion that FedEx and UPS have conspired to monopolize the marketplace for shipping service is a bit outrageous," she said.
"We have had policies to negotiate directly with our customers, and look at their shipping characteristics and build a program for them," she added.
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