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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Start of Bridgestone Tire Victims Restitution Process
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. has started mailing about 30,000 restitution notices to consumers throughout the country who purchased faulty tires and were denied refund requests when they tried to return them.
"It is important that every California consumer who believes they have been wrongly denied reimbursement by Bridgestone/Firestone is given the opportunity to receive their rightful refund," Lockyer said. "Californians who attempted to return faulty tires should watch their mail for notices about this important reimbursement program and submit their requests before March 11."
The mail campaign is part of the restitution program established under a $51.5 million settlement reached between Bridgestone/Firestone, Lockyer and attorneys general for the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Announced in November, the settlement also prohibits the company from misrepresenting the safety of its tires, and requires it to substantiate all claims of tire safety, performance and durability. In the second stage, about 100,000 notices will be sent to consumers throughout the country who received partial refunds for faulty tires.
Under the national settlement, Bridgestone/Firestone will pay the jurisdictions a total of $36.5 million in civil penalties, attorneys fees and to reimburse them for the costs of the investigation. The company also agreed to devote at least another $10 million to restitution for consumers who purchased faulty tires and $5 million to pay for public service announcements regarding the need for tire maintenance, general tire safety and handling characteristics of tires. The settlement is in addition to the $450 million Bridgestone/Firestone already has paid in restitution to consumers in the 53 jurisdictions.
The first round of notices will be sent to about 30,000 consumers who requested reimbursement under Bridgestone/Firestone's Voluntary Safety Tire Recall Reimbursement Program or its Customer Satisfaction Program. Those consumers will receive a letter from the attorneys general, along with a reconsideration form and a list of contact information for any questions they may have about the settlement.
Consumers who want their refund request to be reconsidered must return the form no later than March 11. It should be sent to the State Attorneys' General Multistate Working Group – Attn: Bridgestone/Firestone Settlement, Post Office Box 5155, Des Plaines, IL 60019-9971.
Consumers who return the reconsideration form will have their denial reviewed by Bridgestone/Firestone, which will either pay the refund or inform the consumer why it is denying the refund. The consumer has the right to send the refund denial to an independent arbitrator for review at no cost to the consumer. A request for arbitration review may be made by returning a form Bridgestone/Firestone will provide within 45 days.
The company estimates the cost for this stage of the restitution program will be $10 million. Under the settlement, however, the company will be required to complete the program, regardless of the cost.