TAMPA, Fla. - It’s one of the largest class-action settlements in history, with 70 different manufacturers, adding up to $1.2 billion. Many consumers from 30 states, including Florida, qualify for a minimum $100 payment.
However, the deadline to apply for a claim is December 31, 2019.
The settlement stems from allegations of price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation in the global automotive parts industry. The government started investigating and, in 2011, lawyers filed the first complaints against automotive and parts manufacturers for anti-competitive conduct.
“There have been thousands of vehicles effected by this global price fixing conspiracy, so everyone who purchased a new vehicle or replacement parts -- from 1990 through this year – likely overpaid for automotive parts or the vehicle,” explained Elizabeth Castillo, one of the attorneys involved in the case.
If you purchased one of the qualified vehicles and parts, you are eligible for at least $100. You can find out if you are eligible on the website dedicated to helping consumers file: AutoPartsClass.com.
The site has a list of vehicles, and there’s also a section to file a claim that will ask you for your identifying information and make and model of your car. If you have the VIN, that's great, but you don't need it to file.
“The reason it’s so high is because we want to incentivize people to file claims; we want to make it worth your while. Sometimes when you receive a claim form in the mail and the payout is $4, people might say I have better things to do with my time. We really want you to file claim; it takes less than five minutes. We want you to get some of your money back,” Castillo continued. “Millions of Americans purchased new vehicles and replacement parts over this time period and we just want to return money to the consumers.”
We asked about how this sort of collusion between companies could happen, and attorneys said many of the companies are based in countries with weaker antitrust laws, trying to make more money, especially during the Great Recession.
The U.S. Department of Justice started investigating the automotive industry in conjunction with other global authorities like the Japan Fair Trade Commission and the European Commission. Now, all these years later, consumers are seeing the payout.
Money should make it back to qualified consumers by the end of 2020.
LINK: To check and file, visit www.autopartsclass.com