Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, July 13, 2012

Consumers to Get More Than $1 Billion From Settlement in LCD Price-Fixing Scam

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 2:18 PM

click to enlarge Attorney Generals, avenging our wallets one LCD screen at a time - JD HANCOCK VIA FLICKR
  • JD Hancock via Flickr
  • Attorney Generals, avenging our wallets one LCD screen at a time

Did you ever get a strange feeling that you might be getting ripped off when buying your last flat-screen TV, monitor, or laptop? Well, that's probably because you did.

Attorney General Kamala Harris announced today that her office, along with seven other attorneys general, got a $571-million settlement from three flat-screen LCD producers that were fixing prices.


So if you paid for a Toshiba, LG, or AU Optronics device with an LCD screen, now you know for certain that those companies screwed you over. But don't worry, the AGs are avenging your bank accounts.

The companies agreed to pay $543.5 million in damages and $27.5 million in civil penalties under California's Unfair Competition Law. In December 2011, seven other LCD manufacturers were caught price-fixing, which resulted in a $538.5 million settlement, plus $14.7 million in civil penalties. This brings the total payment in price-fixing punishments to $1.1 billion.

This chunk of change will "be divided among 24 states and the District of Columbia," the Department of Justice reports.

The Attorney General has been after these price-fixers for a while. In October 2010, Harris' office filed a class-action lawsuit against 10 companies alleging they had conspired from 1999 to 2006 to fix LCD-screen prices, resulting in higher costs for electronics.

"The price-fixing by these 10 companies broke the law and short-changed California consumers," said Harris. "This settlement brings justice to our consumers, protects companies that follow the law, and ends the pernicious practice of price-fixing by these manufacturers."

The 10 companies that plotted for your money include Toshiba, LG, and AU Optronics, which settled today, along with the seven that settled in December, including Chi Mei, HannStar, Hitachi, Samsung, and Sharp.

This is not the first time these companies have run into price-fixing snags. In 2008, LG companies had to pay $400 million in federal fines for price-fixing. This past March, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California convicted two AU Optronics companies on federal charges of price-fixing.

What happened to learning from their mistakes?

Not only did the attorney generals knock the price-fixers; they're also giving us some of our money back. "California consumers and government entities will receive a significant portion of the more than $1 billion settlements," Harris reported in a press release today. After they determine our percentage, California consumers and businesses can file claims for monetary relief at the Attorney General's website or here.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Suzanne Stathatos

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • U2 @ SAP Center in San Jose
    Last night U2 performed the first U.S. date of it’s Innocence + Experience tour at SAP Center in San Jose. All four band members were present despite recent injuries sustained by both Bono and Edge. The sold out show took audience members on a walk down memory lane as the band revisited their roots. The innovative stage and lighting used gave the arena show an intimate feel, and engaged audience members in all sections of the venue. Photographs by Sugarwolf.
  • Bay to Breakers 2015 - NSFW
    The 103rd annual Bay to Breakers 12K race was packed on Sunday despite the cold weather. With a starting point a few blocks from The Embarcadero, people dressed as bananas, Elvis and everything in between ran west through the city and finished at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.

    Photographs by Christopher Victorio.