November 8, 2001

Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Maine has joined other states in settling claims for unfair trade practices against Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., over defective tires sold by that company to Maine consumers. In addition to $525,000 in cash that will be divided between the State's General Fund and the fund the Attorney General's Office uses to enforce the Unfair Trade Practices Act for Maine consumers, the settlement also binds Bridgestone/Firestone to detailed consumer restitution practices and bans specific deceptive business practices, provided below in detail.

The State settlement comes on top of the $972,144 Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. has already reimbursed Maine consumers, either in cash or the replacement of 11,738 tires. This settlement does not affect the rights of private citizens to pursue their own claims against Bridgestone/Firestone, except to the extent of any offset for restitution that the consumer will already receive as part of the State's settlement.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who handled Maine's case from the AG's Public Protection Division, said the case is a win for Maine consumers. "We Mainers do so much driving on such a wide variety of road conditions, I think the settlement provisions requiring improved information sharing will take some of the mystery out of buying tires," said Diaz.

Attorney General Rowe said that the cash recovery is substantial by any standard, and that it will help both in the next State budget and in future consumer protection efforts. "The law gets enforced, tire buyers get the truth, the State's coffers get a boost, and consumers get some power. It is a real win for Maine people."


Restitution provisions:

  • Bridgestone/Firestone to reimburse or refer to arbitration certain consumer complaints forwarded to the Attorney's General Offices and/or relevant state agency prior to today that will have been submitted to BF prior to 12/31/01.

  • Anyone who was denied a refund under the "Voluntary Safety Tire Recall Reimbursement Program" or Customer Satisfaction Program will receive a letter that will explain that the consumer has an option to seek a reconsideration of his or her refund denial.

  • If the consumer returns the forms included with their notice, Bridgestone/Firestone will review the request. If there is credible evidence that a consumer essentially meets each requirement of the aforementioned programs, the consumer will be paid.

  • If Bridgestone/Firestone denies the claim, the consumer will be provided notice of the denial and the option to submit their claim to an independent Arbitrator, at no cost.

Permanent Injunction provisions:

  • The company may not misrepresent the safety or safety characteristics of any tire or tread pattern.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone may not misrepresent the characteristics, manufacturer or appropriate uses of a tire.

  • The company must be able to substantiate with competent and reliable scientific evidence any specific claims of tire safety, performance or durability.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone may not make misrepresentations during a recall or customer satisfaction program.

  • The company shall not provide or facilitate inconsistent information to consumers about tire pressure.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone must not make misrepresentations in or retroactively change any guarantee or warranty.

  • The company shall not misrepresent that they have given an expert all requested information.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone shall not misrepresent the expected life or wear pattern of a tire tread.

  • The company must handle consumer complaints in a truthful, ethical and timely manner.

  • Also under the agreement, Bridgestone/Firestone will provide detailed safety consumer information to consumers at the time of delivering tires including information about: proper tire maintenance, load capacity, air pressure; proper tire repair, and warranty information.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone also agrees to provide truthful sworn testimony and cooperation for the Multi-state Working Group in related investigations