Department Stores Give Away Cosmetics to Settle Lawsuit

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New York City Several department store retailers are faced with giving away free cosmetics in order to settle legal claims.

Starting next week, department stores such as Macy's and Nordstrom will give away $175 million worth of free high-end cosmetics including such brands as Estee Lauder and L'Oreal to consumers as part of a class-action settlement alleging that the stores planned to fix prices.

The retailers will distribute the free cosmetics as long as supplies last to shoppers who bought certain cosmetics between May 29, 1994 and July 16, 2003 to settle claims that the stores violated antitrust laws and tried to fix prices.

The offer is part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed in 2003 in a California federal court. The suit alleges stores tried to limit sales and scale back on the amount of cosmetics in their inventory, thereby keeping both prices and competition high.

The department stores involved in the matter have denied any wrongdoing.

Stores participating in the settlement include: Bergdorf Goodman; Bergner's, Bloomingdale's; Boston Store; Carson Pirie Scott; Dillard's; Gottschalks; Herberger's; Macy's; Neiman Marcus; Nordstrom; Parisian; Saks Fifth Avenue and Younkers.