Refunds for buyers as LCD firms agree price-fixing settlement

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Millions of computer and television buyers will be eligible for partial refunds, following a settlement by seven LCD manufacturers.

Samsung, Sharp and five other LCD makers have agreed to pay more than $553 million to settle claims of price fixing. They were accused by eight US states of inflating the price of TV and computer screens.

According to the New York attorney general's office, the firms sold millions of TFT-LCD panels into the US at prices fixed by the cartel. The vast majority of TFT-LCD products sold in New York were sold at illegally fixed high prices.

"This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics," says attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

"Protecting the integrity of the marketplace is the only way to ensure the best outcome for New York’s consumers. That is why my office will aggressively police anti-competitive practices and hold accountable those who violate the law."

Under the agreements, the companies will pay up to $37 million to compensate government and other public entities for damages resulting from the purchase of TFT-LCD panels.

Another $501 million will be available for partial refunds to compensate buyers who bought products containing TFT-LCD panels between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2006. There's no word yet on how to get the refund, nor how much it will amount to in practice.

The agreement isn't the end of the story, though. Other defendants have still to agree on a settlement, including AU Optronics, LG Display and Toshiba.