Amazon sent out an email to customers on Saturday reporting that the first wave of refunds stemming from the ebook price fixing fiasco are on the way. Customers won't need to submit anything, and will be contacted once the refund credit is applied to their account. However this isn't expected to happen until the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.
"Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices," the company reports. "Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books."
"While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012," Amazon adds. "Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements."
Outside the refund, the settlement impose limitations on the three publishers' ability to set e-book prices. Amazon offers more information about the settlements here, and the State Attorneys General E-book Settlements information depot can be located here.
The latter State Attorneys' website reports that the refunds will be pulled from a $69 million settlement fund. A lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in April 2012 claims that five book publishers (collectively, the "Agency Five" publishers including the three mentioned above) and Apple were involved in a conspiracy to fix and raise the retail price of e-books. As previously reported, these three settled with the Justice Department out-of-court in June while the other two – Penguin and Macmillan – would fight the complaint alongside Apple.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said on August 29 that he and 54 other attorneys general announced that they reached an antitrust settlement with the three publishers. All three agreed to pay more than $69 million, and to change the way they price eBooks going forward. Even more, this refund pool will compensate consumers who purchased eBooks from any of the Agency Five – including the two non-settling publishers Macmillan and Penguin.
"While publishers are entitled to their profits, consumers are equally entitled to a fair and open marketplace," said Attorney General Jepsen. "This settlement will provide restitution to those customers who were harmed by this price-fixing scheme, but it also will restore competition in the eBook market for consumers’ long-term benefit."
Payments will begin 30 days after the court approval of the settlement becomes final. Consumers in Connecticut are expected to receive up to $1,264,658 in total compensation, Jepsen said. The settling defendants will also pay approximately $7.5 million to the states for fees and costs.