Mitsubishi Electronics America Inc., the United States distributor of Mitsubishi and MGA brand televisions, today agreed to refund $7.95 million to consumers nationwide to settle charges that it unlawfully fixed the retail prices of its television sets.
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said about 5,000 Marylanders who bought Mitsubishi and MGA televisions in 1988 will receive refunds ranging from $20 to $54 each.
The price-fixing charges were detailed in complaints filed against Mitsubishi in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today.
Although the company agreed to the settlement, it denied that it engaged in any illegal activity.
Curran said the lawsuits resulted from an investigation conducted by the antitrust division of his office and by the attorney general of New York.
The settlement with Mitsubishi allows attorneys general from other states to participate in the settlement on behalf of consumers who live in those states.
The complaints filed in court said Mitsubishi attempted to enlist electronics retailers in a nationwide conspiracy to fix retail prices. In January 1988, Mitsubishi instituted a standard dealer agreement requiring its dealers to place price-tags containing Mitsubishi's suggested retail price on all its products, the complaints said. The company did not permit dealers to place any other prices on these tags.
The complaints alleged that the company monitored its price-tagging programs to ensure that its products were not sold below the suggested retail price. The company also obtained agreements from dealers that they would not sell below the suggested price.
Curran said the settlement requires Mitsubishi to take affirmative steps to assure that retailers are aware they may set their own prices.
Television models involved in the settlement are CS1345, CS1945, CS2045, CS201, CS2054, CS2653 and CS2654. Consumers who purchased these models in 1988 are entitled to refunds.
Consumers who filled out warranty cards when they purchased the products are qualified automatically to receive rebates. Other consumers who can be identified from sales records will receive claim forms by mail.
Consumers also may call the antitrust division of the attorney general's office at 576-6470 for a claim form.