January 21, 2009

Cosmetics giveaway settles lawsuit

Seven U.S. department store chains are giving away $175 million worth of cosmetics and other beauty products to settle a class-action lawsuit.

The stores started handing out the freebies Tuesday and plan to continue through Monday or until nothing is left, The Orange County Register reported.

The lawsuit alleged price-fixing by Macy's, Target, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Robinsons-May between 1994 and 2003. The chains did not admit any wrongdoing when they agreed to settle.

In Southern California, women waited for up an hour to get the free packages, which are worth up to $25. They were prepared for the distribution and cannot be exchanged or resold.

The crowds gathered even though notice of the giveaway was low key, with a legal notice in newspapers Jan. 12 and unobtrusive signs in stores.

With the economy the way that it is, it's a great time for this settlement, said Connie Scott, of Costa Mesa, Calif., as she waited in line at Nordstrom. It's our stimulus package.