A few minutes of your time could mean cash in your pocket after a recent out-of-court settlement involving foam-based common household goods like mattresses, couches, chairs and carpet.

The payout stems from a $38-million settlement of class-action lawsuits brought against about a dozen manufacturers of flexible polyurethane foam, alleging that they formed a cartel to fix prices between 1999 and 2012, resulting in consumers paying more than they should have.

It represents one of the largest price-fixing settlements in Canada.

You automatically are considered a "class member" and can make a claim if you lived in Canada between Jan. 1, 1999, and Jan. 10, 2012, and bought an eligible foam product or carpet underlay made in Canada during that time period. 

Reidar Mogerman, one of the lead lawyers, told CBC News they are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to claim a portion of the award.

Take a picture and submit

A potential claim starts by Canadians checking their furniture, bought between the identified dates, for the manufacturer's tag, said Mogerman. 

"You just take a picture of that tag and that will tell us that you purchased the right kind of furniture," he said. "If you have that picture and you submit it, you're going to get a minimum of payment of $20."

Proof of purchase, like a receipt or invoice, will also work. Canadians can then fill out a claim form and submit their photos — free of charge — online at the Foam for Cash website.

CBC

In order to make a claim, you simply need to take a picture of the manufacturer's tag and submit it online. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

For those with carpet underlay, some form of proof of purchase is required. Those with questions about what is considered proof can contact the number listed online.

The minimum payout for one item is $20, and that amount may increase depending on the type and number of items purchased. Family members who are living together must submit their purchases under a single claim.

When will cheques arrive?

Canadians have until Feb. 6, 2018, to file their claims. The payout will then be approved by the court and any unclaimed money will be donated to court-approved charities.

Mogerman said it's hard to know exactly when the settlement cheques will be issued, but he expects they will be in the mail eight to 12 months after the court gives its final OK.

Cases like this are important, he said, because they "send strong messages about behaviour in the economy and that there are serious consequences to manipulating competition."