The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether FedEx and UPS illegally coordinated their actions in barring shipper contracts negotiated by third-party consultants, according to published reports.
The investigation follows a suit Portland, Ore.-based AFMS, a consultant to shippers, filed in California last year claiming the carriers had engaged in anti-competitive behavior by refusing to work with AFMS on behalf of its clients.
UPS and FedEx officials said in comments reported by the Atlanta Business Journal the companies were aware of the investigation but denied they have colluded in their dealings with shippers using third-party consultants.
UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told the publication the use of such consultants to negotiate contracts “ultimately adds to the cost of shipping.”
AFMS is among a handful of companies that specialize in helping shippers lower their shipping costs, largely in the parcel arena, by analyzing their distribution patterns and matching them up to carriers’ rate guidelines. Several of the companies include former account executives for the carriers and tout their expertise in helping represent shippers in negotiating annual contracts.