Department Stores and Cosmetic Companies Cheated Us, So We Get Free Makeup!

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Guilty as charged. Photo: Courtesy of Prescriptives, Clinique, CK, M.A.C, Chanel

We hate legalese as much as the rest of you, but when we heard about the possibility of free makeup, we jumped headfirst into the jargon. And here's what we found out:

Department stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Filene's, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue cheated consumers by making a pact that they'd only sell cosmetic products at the suggested retail price. By doing so, there is no competition between stores, no discounts, and the consumer loses out. It's called price fixing, and it's a violation of antitrust laws, if you want to sound cool. And it happened with big cosmetics brands, too! CK One, CK Be, Eternity, Chanel No. 5, M.A.C, Clinique, and Prescriptives were all involved. And more.

The news of the settlement is old hat, with judges ordering this is 2004. But now, finally, the stores and companies are paying for it. The stores are ordered to give away $175 million worth of products starting in 2009, a mere four and a half months away. Plus, they have to pay almost $24 million in attorney fees. (They're also never allowed to engage in price-fixing again, but that's pretty much a given.)

And come 2009, the giveaway begins! Don't lose out on what you're entitled to. And free makeup is free makeup. Here's how to score your own $25 worth:

1. Sign a form that says you purchased the covered products between May 29, 1994, and July 16, 2003, and you're a resident of the United States.
2. Enter in your e-mail and mailing address here or call 877-604-5776 to leave your name and mailing address.
3. Wait for the alert that tells you you're eligible.
4. Then get $25 worth of free makeup!

Learning the law never felt so beautiful.

A Sweet Deal in Antitrust Case [Boston Globe]
Class Action Settlement Sets Up Massive Cosmetics Giveaway [Consumerist]
Cosmetics Cases Settlement Website [Official Website]