Some NYC tourists could be due a refund

Tourists who visited New York City between 2009 and this June could be due a refund if they bought a ticket for Gray Line or CitySights "hop-on, hop-off" bus tours. An estimated 4 million people are eligible to collect a portion of a $19 million settlement of a class action that alleged overcharging due to price fixing.

The settlement, reached in the spring, involves Twin America, Coach USA, International Bus Services, CitySights and City Sights Twin. The deadline to file a claim is Jan. 19.

Twin America, a joint venture between Coach USA and CitySights was allegedly created to stifle competition. Passengers were allegedly overcharged by at least $5 apiece and as much as $20 per ticket.

In a separate action, the U.S. Department of Justice and New York's attorney general filed a lawsuit against the companies in 2012 alleging antitrust violations. A settlement is expected in that case. No details have been released yet.

The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

A final determination of how much each consumer will be paid as part of the class-action settlement won't be decided until after the claims filing period closes next month. You must have purchased tickets for one of the buses between Feb. 1, 2009, and June 16, 2014.

These hop-on, hop-off bus tours allow tourists to use the same ticket, which could be purchased for one day or multiple days, to get off the bus at various New York City attractions and then get on others buses.

Those who believe they're eligible can file a claim online at the official settlement site. And those with questions can call 1-866-431-9265.

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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.