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Class Action Suit Goodies Await Tech Users

timothy posted about a year ago | from the didja-save-those-receipts? dept.

The Courts 117

jfruh writes "Did you buy an Acer laptop with Vista and less than 1 GB of RAM? The company has a thumb drive it would like to send you. Did you get an unwanted text from Papa John's? The company would like to make it up with you with $50 worth of free pizza. These and other little rewards are available as a result of class action lawsuits that have wound their ways through the court systems and now, years later, are paying off for very large groups of tech users." I wonder how many USB drives the lawyers took as their share.

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Paying off for whom? (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#43925365)

It sounds more like these settlements are paying off for the defendants. Papa John's pulled off an especially neat trick there, getting the court to accept pizza the customers don't want in lieu of statutory damages.

Re:Paying off for whom? (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43925473)

Them and the lawyers who brought the case to the court. In most of these class action lawsuits, the lawyers "fighting for the little guy" end up getting huge amounts of money. Sure they have to pay their own bills, but it often goes a lot further than that. There shouldn't be any options to give out free stuff in these class action suits. The payouts should be cash only. $50 worth of pizza doesn't cost Poppa John's $50.

Missing the point (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | about a year ago | (#43925679)

The point of a class action lawsuit isn't, unfortunately, to compensate the members of the class. The point of a class action lawsuit is that there are too many people who suffered minor damages to really be able to logistically handle that.

The primary point of a class action lawsuit isn't to "fight for the little guy," it is to punish companies that do wrong. If lawyers end up making $2 billion off a lawsuit, well, that's $2 billion out of the company's coffers. And before you go spouting off about how ultimately they pass that cost on to customers, maybe they do, but if so, that puts them at a disadvantage compared to other companies. Or put another way, if Domino's is giving their customers good quality pizza while Papa John's is skimping because they are trying to pass a $2 billion lawsuit judgment on to their customers, they'll lose market share. But I digress...

Anyway, I don't necessarily agree that the lawyers should make so much off of a class action lawsuit, although they really should make a lot, since they're handling the details of compensation which costs a lot more than most people think. What I'd like to see is some kind of public fund set up for money like this to go into, such as to build parks or something, so that the end effect of punishing the companies is maintained but the incredible amount of time, effort, and money that goes towards mailing a few people checks for a buck or two isn't wasted. At least that way, you also avoid the problem that class action payouts usually aren't that high since most eligible claimants won't bother to jump through the hoops to get their judgment.

Re:Missing the point (5, Insightful)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#43926105)

The primary point of a class action lawsuit isn't to "fight for the little guy," it is to punish companies that do wrong. If lawyers end up making $2 billion off a lawsuit, well, that's $2 billion out of the company's coffers.

No.

Punitive damages do that. Compensatory damages are intended to make the plaintiffs "whole". The jury or judge will make it clear which damages are intended to do what. Remember, class actions aren't just for pizzas, they're also for injuries and death caused by negligence.

Either way, I think there should be parity in awards to the attorneys and the plaintiffs in a class action suit, both in time and monetary value. If the class is paid in coupons, the attorneys are paid in coupons.

The attorneys are free to sell the coupons for cash.

If the plaintiffs are paid cash over a period of time - say a trust has been established that pays medical bills- the attorneys should be paid incrementally as the trust is used up. The attorneys certainly have the option to sell that revenue stream for an immediate payment - they'll probably get 50-70 cents on the dollar.

The point is that class action attorneys should have their interests tightly aligned with those of the class, otherwise they will cut deals that benefit only themselves. The best and simplest way to do that is to reward them as a percentage of the net present value of the market value (not face value) of the plaintiff's share of the award.

Re:Missing the point (1)

Skater (41976) | about a year ago | (#43927567)

You do realize you can opt out of class action lawsuits and pursue your own legal action, right? When you join the class, you are agreeing to the lawyers' negotiated settlement.

Re:Missing the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43927721)

Why should I have to take action to be excluded from a class?

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43932969)

Because massively increasing the administrative costs of a class action suit for the effectively zero chance you'd actually pursue your own action against the company makes no sense.

If you're upset enough about something to be considering legal action, you're orders of magnitude more likely to be researching and informed of pending actions, whereas the alternative, waiting for thousands of apathetic people to return some sort of paperwork and hiring people to process it all has no actual benefit.

Re:Missing the point (2)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#43928977)

When you join the class, you are agreeing to the lawyers' negotiated settlement.

It's the class's negotiated settlement, not the lawyers'. The suit is started by the lead plaintiffs, who hire the lawyers. It is the lead plaintiffs that agree to any negotiated settlement, not the lawyers. The whole point of the action is to satisfy the interest of the class, not the lawyers. I realize that these principles are often abused, but those are the principles nonetheless. Lawyers who get too careless with them get jail time: just ask Bill Lerach.

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43929193)

No.

Punitive damages do that. Compensatory damages are intended to make the plaintiffs "whole".

No. You're conflating punitive damages with punitive function. The point of requesting compensatory damages, and the basis of calculating the amount, is to reinstate the plaintiff to a position somewhat like what he should have been in without the wrongful action. The function of forcing the defendant to PAY those damages is to provide a deterrent to repeating that injurious conduct in the future. Punitive damages are awarded as an additional penalty for particularly egregious cases, under specific circumstances.

The GP is correct that the purpose of a class action lawsuit is to compile a class of people who have suffered a common, but typically trivial, harm. Any one case is not worth the cost of hiring an attorney for the plaintiff, and has no meaningful impact on the defendant.

By aggregating claims, the defendant company suffers a (theoretically) significant cost, either monetarily or in providing services. The attorneys negotiating the settlement, who completed all the work without any promise of pay and for which the individual plaintiffs contributed nothing, gambled that the company would settle for an amount that covers the time and expenses incurred. Most class action suits do not.

The ones you hear about tend to be the major ones, for which there is a substantial payout. As a member of the class, you are not the primary focus of the lawsuit, nor do you have much in the way of a right to complain. If you don't like getting something for nothing, you're welcome to opt out and pursue your own resolution with the company.

That goal can be achieved multiple ways (-1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#43926355)

The primary point of a class action lawsuit isn't to "fight for the little guy," it is to punish companies that do wrong.

This is a useful purpose, but one that could be served just as well by fining the companies in question real money and directing it to some constructive destination determined by the court. There is no need to allow for the blatant enrichment of lawyers as the primary beneficiaries of such cases, which from an outsider's point of view seems to be the norm in US class actions.

The point of a class action lawsuit is that there are too many people who suffered minor damages to really be able to logistically handle that.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to require a failed defendant to compensate the individuals to a fair extent in any case. If the overheads of doing so are absurdly disproportionate, it will serve as a very practical punishment and a reminder of just how many people were harmed even in a small way.

You forgot about patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43928087)

In a market where there are parity products, such as that of pizzas, the customer has choice.

What about in the realm of pharmaceuticals?

What if BigPharmaBrand does something shady and agrees to give people PMS medications as compensation? Roughly half of potential victims would have no use for the medications, and there's probably a law preventing them from reselling the product.

Also, if BigPharmaBrand patented the only safe chemical that can be used to treat PMS problems, then the cost absolutely gets passed on to the consumer. They simply raise their prices by (cost of judgement / projected sales over desired time period). If you want the medication, you pay for it. Otherwise, you go without it and suffer like a cavewoman.

Since I'm a programmer of secure systems, consider this abuse case:

I write banking software for an evil corporation (started and run by my brother). My brother adds a "feature" that withdraws one dollar from every account holder's balance and deposits it in to the corporation's account. That money is then spent on software development (mostly paid out to me).

Now, I'm rich and many, many people are slightly inconvenienced.

The company has to provide its services to customers for free for 1 month. It costs them virtually nothing since the software and hardware are already bought and paid for.

The company has been "punished", and all the people who suffered a loss are--although not monetarily compensated--avenged by having the evil corporation lose out on its revenues.

My brother does not go to jail. ...cContrast this with a bank robbery.

My brother robs a bank, and buys a used car from me for 20 million dollars.

My brother goes to jail. I lose my money. And my car.

Why is corporate crime acceptable--or at least not subjected to equitable punishments?

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43928615)

Actually, in most cases, very likely this one included, most of the "handling of details of compensation" is done by a 3rd party, such as RUST Consulting, or Garden City Group.
These places actually deal with the entire process of notifying class members, handling call centers, collecting and preparing data for court, handling the compensations, and the distribution of said compensation...And pretty much everything in between.
THAT is where the big costs are run up.

On top of that, generally unclaimed distributions go right back to the defendant, meaning the payouts aren't as large as the press releases claim, as the class turnout is NEVER as large as anticipated, and usually very short of that mark.

Re:Paying off for whom? (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43925749)

Good, the lawyers did the work.

The whole point of class actions is to make small individual claims able to be handled by the courts. No one is going to sue Papa Johns for $50. Papa Johns got a nice $25 per customer punishment.

Re:Paying off for whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926029)

You don't want the lawyers to get paid? Then no one is going to bring these class actions.

Litigating a class action is something that takes years, an incredible amount of skill and experience from the lawyers. The lawyers who bring these suits are looking to earn money, but they are doing it by trying to hold companies accountable for illegal acts that are generally too petty to warrant individual relief, and where the cost of enforcement exceeds the cost of the harm.

I agree the Papa John's settlement is not great, but it's also possible that the case was not that great to begin with. Regardless, no consumers were harmed in the making or settling of the lawsuit. If you don't want $50 in free pizza then you are free to opt out of the class and pursue your own claim against Papa Johns.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926595)

Thanks for pointing out why the entire legal system is just plain fucked. YEARS? Why the fuck should it take years for something like this, huh? And why should it take a lot of skill? "Here's what happened, your Honour: company A did X to Y number of customers. Oh, and here's some proof that they did it." The skill would be on the part of the judge to determine if it's a valid case and how to rule it.

Really, the US (and most other countries as well) legal system is a goddamned shambles and an utter disgrace to anything resembling "justice".

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#43926751)

It takes years becuase the system allows for appeals, and tortfeasors are allowed to continue cases for a variety of reasons, ostensibly to discover more facts related to their case (but really to try to wear down the plantiffs). But think if those rules were changed. People would sue people and win based soley on who went to court first. That's not going to work either.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#43926235)

Now you are in the position of stripping the victims of their rights. If it hadn't been for the lawyers "blowing the whistle" on the corporations the individual would not get anything and the corporation would get away scott free. You are in fact flying in the face of conventional economics, where the negative consequences of the actions of a corporation is costly. If there were no cost involved then moral hazard would rear it's ugly head. Stop slamming the lawyers, they did not cause the problem. It was the companies who hosed the consumers who caused the problem.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year ago | (#43926907)

What kind of harm did Papa John's cause by sending a few texts? How many people that got these texts were charged anywhere close to $50 for having received them? This is one example of why the US legal system has issues.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926565)

Article says $50 cash AND a free pizza.

Papa John's stop free pizza and give healthcare (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43927761)

Papa John's stop free pizza and give healthcare to your workers. Any ways the big 3 all suck. Lot's of good small chains in the Chicago area.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43928191)

I'd rather have $50 worth of pizza than a $5 rebate check, which is about all I'd get as case. Class action rewards are laughable.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year ago | (#43925503)

Papa John's pizza being given away for free is still dramatically overpriced. If someone wants you to eat shit, they should pay you.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#43926045)

They said $50 worth of free pizza. Doesn't that mean that one can order anything from Papa Johns, including $50 worth of coke?

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#43927871)

Round here they tell you "We don't carry coke. Will crystal meth be OK?"

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#43926825)

I am from the same town as John Schnatter. I ate papa john's pizza when there was one "store" in the back of a somewhat crappy bar. It was great. Over the years I would usually always try to get PJ's whenever pizza was being ordered out of hometown loyalty (I guess).

Having said that, papa john's is not much better than little caesar's is nowadays. It is terrible, terrible mall pizza.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year ago | (#43925505)

It sounds more like these settlements are paying off for the defendants. Papa John's pulled off an especially neat trick there, getting the court to accept pizza the customers don't want in lieu of statutory damages.

It's typical for the company's products or services to be offered in a settlement (as opposed to ruling).

Re:Paying off for whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925549)

When the courts find that $major_corporation installed bitcoin mining software in their latest game, I hope they can get the same deal. Free copies of the game to anyone who may have been affected, also their friends with nice graphics cards!

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | about a year ago | (#43925693)

That is nothing. When I was in high school I was a member of one of those CD club things where you bought some and got some for free. I think it was BMG. There was a class action lawsuit and I got three discounted CDs in the settlement. The court ruled I was screwed over by BMG and the settlement was the option to pay them more money for the privalege of receiving my share...

Re:Paying off for whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43929411)

Oh Boo Hoo, the text really hurt me. THis whole lawsuit was a shake down, but libs hate big business esp. Christian ones so who cares right?

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about a year ago | (#43930965)

esp. Christian ones so who cares right?

Please. Play the "I'm so oppressed" card. Louder.

So the rest of us can hear you whine.

Same story Different year. (1)

DiEx-15 (959602) | about a year ago | (#43931245)

Nintendo [wikipedia.org] did this a long time ago. Instead of paying money, Nintendo passed out "coupons" for games. So this is nothing new.

Re:Paying off for whom? (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year ago | (#43932027)

It's even worse when the defendants are peddlers of intangible goods. Sued for millions? No problem, here's download links to $100 of free music, or here's a copy of Microsoft Office.

At. Zero. Cost. to them.

Reminder (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925421)

These aren't the results of judgments, they're the rewards for settlements. So if you ever wondered why the end result is so awful it's because the actual money goes to the lawyers while the people for which the lawsuit was intended to provide justice get cheap plastic kazoos. This is supposed to be okay, though, because "class action lawsuits are intended to punish companies, not restore damages." The best part is that by accepting your cheap plastic kazoo you're also signing away any other legal recourse you may have had.

Re:Reminder (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43925703)

And if they owned a 3D printer, those people wouldn't need stupid lawsuits and settlements to get their very own cheap plastic kazoos!

Re:Reminder (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | about a year ago | (#43927679)

Are you going to steal intellectual property of the company that makes kazoos?

You wouldn't steal a car would you?

Re:Reminder (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43927959)

I wouldn't steal it but I would copy it [videosift.com] !

Re:Reminder (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925835)

The best part is that by accepting your cheap plastic kazoo you're also signing away any other legal recourse you may have had..

That's fine. It's a choice you make when you join a class action. It's a form of recourse where you give up most of your claim for reparation in exchange for someone else to represent you at their own risk. It's your own responsibility to choose which of your options is the most appropriate.

In this case, pursuing an individual dispute against Papa John would be questionable. What's the chance of winning? Do I really deserve a large payout just for receiving an unwanted SMS? If I don't win, what would it set me back? Would it be worth the time and expense even if I did win? What I really want is just for them to stop sending SMSs to me, and if somebody else can potentially profit from representing me in a class action then so be it. They're putting in all the effort and accepting all the risk; I stop getting SMSed - I say they've earned what they got.

Re:Reminder (4, Interesting)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#43926117)

it's called small claims court and the chance of winning is far better they you'd think. I'll take $250 dollars - depends on the state - EG California now allows $2500 for spam and such per incident. Now if we'd all simply take advantage of these laws and start collecting from the most egregarious offenders.

Re:Reminder (4, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year ago | (#43927949)

I had a run in with small claims years ago just after I graduated from college. The insurance company didn't want to pay anywhere near the fair market value of a vehicle that was totaled as determined by various objective not involved 3rd parties (NADA, KBB, and an independent appraisal). I paid my $35 filing fee which you could as part of your requested damages. The car sat in storage with the insurance company for 6 months as they stone walled me and I went to court. I went in with a stack of paper to prove my point that included:
The KBB value of the car
The NADA value of the car
The independent appraisers valuation of the car
Examples of very similar cars and their asking price with pictures they were all in really bad condition and/or had really high mileages even by my standards with one having 750,000+ miles on it
Examples of the same vehicle in the price range the insurance company was claiming my vehicle was worth
The data and method the insurance company used to come up with a valuation

I presented my stuff and picked apart their valuation making sure to point out where they had deducted things multiple times. The judge then asked the insurance company to justify their valuation in which they presented their method and data that I had presented. The judge looked at the insurance company lawyer and told them they should have just settled as what I was asking was perfectly reasonable. The whole court proceeding took about half an hour. After that the insurance company still stalled on getting me my money and I had to threaten to get a lien against their assets as I had a court order to have my money by a certain date which had passed and I was now legally allowed to do so and if I didn't have my check by the end of the day I would be doing that. About an hour later my check was hand delivered. In the end they ended up paying the fair market value of the car, storage for 6 months, what ever it cost to have someone go to court, what ever it cost to prepare for court, and what ever it cost to have someone hand deliver a check to me when it should have only cost them the fair market value of the vehicle.

More people need to put the screws to companies like this and things would get better quick because what ever it costs you in your time it will cost the company more. If a kid just out of college can force a big insurance company to pony up just about anyone can.

Re:Reminder (1)

shafty (81434) | about a year ago | (#43929265)

Good job! Which insurance company was this?

Re:Reminder (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | about a year ago | (#43930049)

Good story. I don't think I would have thought to take an insurance to small claims court. I always assumed that was more for interactions between individuals or local business, rather than with MegaCorp. Highly educational. Glad it worked out for you, too. I know several people fighting with insurance companies over lousy valuations, I'll be sure to mention this to them.

Re:Reminder (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43927719)

Except some class actions are opt-out. You my never hear of the suit at all until one day you suddenly relize what that cheap plastic kazoo you got in the mail a year ago was all about.

Re:Reminder (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43925907)

The "people for which the lawsuit was intended to provide justice" were minorly inconvenienced. A cheap plastic kazoo sounds pretty OK when all that happened to you was you got an unwanted text message. The entire premise of a class action lawsuit is that the harm is so negligible at an individual level that nobody would ever sue.

This is supposed to be okay, though, because "class action lawsuits are intended to punish companies, not restore damages"

Yes, yes they are. Saying it in a sarcastic tone doesn't make it less true.

Re:Reminder (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43927733)

Unless, of course the text message cost you more than you were willing to pay for a cheap plastic kazoo.

Re:Reminder (2)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#43925999)

The best part is that by accepting your cheap plastic kazoo you're also signing away any other legal recourse you may have had.

Not quite. The best part (if my notice of the Sony PSN class action settlement is typical) is that by not explicitly excluding yourself from the settlement (i.e. even if you take no action to claim the cheap plastic kazoo), you're giving up any further legal recourse you may have.

Re:Reminder (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about a year ago | (#43926057)

Even better, if you don't specifically say you have no desire to be represented for a kazoo (even if you don't know about it until after) you still give up your right to legal recourse, even if you never claim your kazoo.

Re:Reminder (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43926305)

These aren't the results of judgments, they're the rewards for settlements. So if you ever wondered why the end result is so awful it's because the actual money goes to the lawyers while the people for which the lawsuit was intended to provide justice get cheap plastic kazoos. This is supposed to be okay, though, because "class action lawsuits are intended to punish companies, not restore damages." The best part is that by accepting your cheap plastic kazoo you're also signing away any other legal recourse you may have had.

Class actions happen because companies figured it was better to steal $1M from 100,000 people than to steal $1M from 10 people.

Yes, by accepting the kazoo you give up the legal right. But if you were wronged for $20, will you prefer to take the kazoo or to file suit? Even in small claims court, with filing fees of around $30, plus a day of your time, doing all that to get back $20 In damages is an extremely poor ROI.

Companies figured that out and it was a great way to make money hand over fist. It's sort of the spam model of moneymaking - steal from one and it's tricky, steam from thousands and most don't care and will put up with the annoyance. And you only really have to deal with the odd few who decide to go all the way on principle. After all, if you ripped off $10 from those 100,000 people, you can probably expect to only need to repay maybe $20 tops (you don't even need to show up for court!). What a bargain! The plaintiff gets to waste a whole day and filing fees, and you do nothing but make money and pay the $10 in damages owed.

And yes, such abuses are common - you'll see in contracts wording like "from time to time, the cost of your service may go up and are not a reason for the termination of this contract". And there are cases where the service provider ups the cost of service by $5 a month. Cancel, and pay the contract cancellation fee of $300. Or put up with it because the contract expires in 2 years (additional cost - $120). The number of people willing to go to court over it is extremely low.

Re:Reminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926593)

These aren't the results of judgments, they're the rewards for settlements. So if you ever wondered why the end result is so awful it's because the actual money goes to the lawyers while the people for which the lawsuit was intended to provide justice get cheap plastic kazoos. This is supposed to be okay, though, because "class action lawsuits are intended to punish companies, not restore damages." The best part is that by accepting your cheap plastic kazoo you're also signing away any other legal recourse you may have had.

A court approved the attorneys fees based on actual hours worked by the attorneys. Moreover, it is fantastically expensive to proceed with most class-action suits, even before you can get them certified as a class.

One of the big purposes of class-action lawsuits is to make it feasible for consumers to press claims against corporations for losses that would otherwise be unfeasible to bring individually. If AT&T shortchanges 5 million of its customers one dollar a month for a year it just made $60 million dollars by cheating its customers. Its customers, though, only lost $12 individually. That isn't worth the time or effort to bring a claim for and AT&T counts on that. Class-actions allowed consumers to band together to at least keep AT&T from profitting by cheating their customers.

Unfortunately, rather than treat consumers fairly, Big Business has simply had the laws changed to make it so when they stick a binding arbitration clause in paragraph 124 of their "user agreement", consumers are forced to now bring their claims individually through an arbitrator of the company's choice...allowing them to once again steal from their customers with impunity.

How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925493)

40%

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (5, Funny)

2gravey (959785) | about a year ago | (#43925699)

The sad truth of it is that the poor lawyers probably did not get any thumb drives at all and had to make due with nothing more than millions of dollars for their trouble.

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43925779)

I'll trade those poor folks some thumb drives. I'm a nice person.

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43925827)

Which is a feature not a bug.

They did the work, and they took the risk. They also made it possible for a company to be punished without requiring people to spend a day at a courthouse for a minor damage. If class actions were not available then any company could rip off its customers so long as it kept that theft below the amount that would motivate most folks to go to court.

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (1)

2gravey (959785) | about a year ago | (#43925905)

Class Actions are like unions. They serve a purpose, keeping the corporate bosses honest, but have grown wildly out of control and benefit the people that run them much more than the people they represent.

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43925975)

I agree on the first point and disagree on the second. Like unions they are fast becoming nerfed to the point of uselessness. Class actions and unions benefit all of society and are being castrated by the corporations to ensure they are no longer a hindrance. Your idea that they have grown when they shrank like unions is like the effect of the media you consume. I urge you to turn to actual statistics instead.

Pretty much all one sided contracts, like cell phones now include verbiage forbidding class action suits.

Re:How many thumb drives did the lawyers get? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926667)

Pretty much all one sided contracts, like cell phones now include verbiage forbidding class action suits.

Those hold up in court? I thought you couldn't sign away that right.

not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (-1, Redundant)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#43925527)

Acers free thumb drive will be factored into 1q2014 quarterly profit and expenditures accordingly. it will be reflected in the price of the $next_Acer_laptop
$50 in free pizza at Papa Johns might be used by President John Schnatter as damage control for his recent plan to raise the price of his food based on the healthcare reform act. then again he might suddenly decide to decrease the size of a pizza, or the amount of topping, or the quality, or both.

tl;dr: at no point does your class action windfall guarantee companies wont try to fuck you in the future in pursuit of the same greed that landed them in court the first time. its most ethical to not participate in class action skull duggery and simply act as a responsible consumer. maybe consider the local pizzaria next time, or pick up some ingredients at the local market and make one. laptops from thinkpenguin or system76 are also pretty good too, and im sure there are a few other places willing to make you a windows laptop that wont try to screw you out of a component.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year ago | (#43925621)

Of course it will because margins aren't at all tight in the laptop market.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925637)

I'm pretty sure the quality doesn't have any downward room. It is already like eating a mouth full of flour.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43925717)

But flour is expensive. It's been replaced with finely ground sand.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925781)

why is the "tl;dr" part of your post longer than the part that is supposedly too long to read?

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925863)

Product paid for by future cuts = free product now and none of my business later when the company cuts quality or raises prices to compensate.

A free pizza from Papa Johns today that will result in higher prices tomorrow means I buy Little Caesars tomorrow.
A "windfall" ACER USB drive in my hand today that raises Acer prices across means I buy a Dell PC instead.

It's called the free market. You're free to charge whatever you want, and I'm free to buy from someone else.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (4, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43925945)

If the penalty is reflected in the price of next year's line of Acer laptops, then more people will buy from Toshiba instead. "Passing it on to the consumers" only works when the entire market is passing it on, not just one company.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43927427)

"Passing it on to the consumers" only works when the entire market is passing it on, not just one company.

I think tobacco companies might disagree. Your statement doesn't seem to hold up for products that aren't basic needs. All cigarette prices have gone up over the last decade, but profit margins are smaller. Some of the industry sacrifices some of their profits to negate some of the taxes, and they do it to make their brands more attractive. Alternately, many kinds of companies can lower the quality of their products to maintain profits, or they can cut costs internally (smaller workforce, less advertising, less R&D, etc).

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#43926095)

Or, in case of Acer, it could enable them to move product that wasn't moving (say the Thumb drive was at a very low density that nobody wanted). In case of Papa Johns, they get to show all those extra pizzas as product that had to be made and delivered to customers, if not technically sales.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#43926141)

Acers free thumb drive will be factored into 1q2014 quarterly profit and expenditures accordingly. it will be reflected in the price of the $next_Acer_laptop

So not only do they get a free thumbdrive, but competitors laptops will be cheaper for the same thing since the cost of those drives has been added to acers new units, which I wasn't planning on purchasing anyway having been burned by them last time?

So... how is that not a win for me?

tl;dr: at no point does your class action windfall guarantee companies wont try to fuck you in the future in pursuit of the same greed that landed them in court the first time

Of course.

its most ethical to not participate in class action skull duggery and simply act as a responsible consumer.

It makes even more sense to take your class action freebie, and then refuse to do business with them in the future.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#43926215)

$50 in free pizza at Papa Johns might be used by President John Schnatter as damage control for his recent plan to raise the price of his food based on the healthcare reform act.

FWIW, to give him credit, he was quoted out of context over his supposed "attack" on HCR, which did include positive commentary on, for example, the fact it leveled the playing field and meant he could provide insurance to his employees without that giving his competitors an advantage over his company.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#43926303)

... he might suddenly decide to decrease the size of a pizza, or the amount of topping, or the quality, or both.

You can reduce the quality of Papa Johns pizzas?

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926393)

you really need to figure out what "tl;dr" means. you went on longer at that point then your original point.

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43927325)

Why is your tl;dr longer than your post? Do you even know what it means?

Re:not to be a buzzkill but this isnt free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43930149)

This tl;dr thing, I'm not sure you understand what it means.

1GB for Vista? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a year ago | (#43925533)

I was a bit confused since I was certain the minimum requirement was 512mb. Did some research and figured it out:

  • 512mb is the minimum for Home Basic (with 32mb graphics memory). 1gb is the minimum for the other editions (with 128mb graphics memory), which were the ones listed in the class action lawsuit.
  • The 1gb was shared between the GFX and RAM, so you definitely have a system that fails to meet the minimum requirements (1.25gb would have probably gotten them off the hook).

Re:1GB for Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925687)

To run well vista needed a minimum of 2gig (4gig preferred) out of the box. A 'clean' install of vista would use 800 meg just for the OS and the flotilla of services that consumed it. Best I ever got it down to was 300ish and that was stripped and didnt do anything because all the services were off.

You can run it with 512 meg. If you do not mind not doing anything else but watching the blinky light on your hard drive.

Also I seriously doubt it was 50/50 for the ram. Most of those are like were 32 or 16 meg shared.

The laptop in question would have probably ran XP very well. Which is probably what it was designed for. They knew it but had a stack of them on shelf...

Re:1GB for Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925763)

Yeah, old XP tower with 512MB with separate video card ran some games faster for me then 4GB Vista laptop.

Re:1GB for Vista? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43925971)

I ran Vista, and Windows 7 very easily on a 2GB machine. It only went above the 1GB line when I was running a VM that soaked up 512MB for itself, despite my best efforts. You do know that much (most?) of the memory usage on a modern system is caching, right? Empty memory is wasted memory.

I hate class action suits (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43925575)

They pretty much never lead to anything but a payday for lawyers, and an almost insulting token gift (if even that) for the plaintiffs. At least the Apple one sounds good for those who were denied, but how many people still have texts from that long ago to prove Papa John's sent you a text?

Re:I hate class action suits (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about a year ago | (#43925751)

The obvious solution is to have everyone in the potential class opt in at the start of the lawsuit. If the lawyers needed actual clients before proceeding, these suits would almost never happen (and probably be settled much more quickly).

eMachines settlement (3, Informative)

ThatsLoseNotLoose (719462) | about a year ago | (#43925625)

If you purchased an eMachines computer with a floppy drive way back in the late 90s, you can get either $62.50 in cash, or $365 worth of Gateway or Acer stuff from their refurb outlet.

http://www.emachinesfloppydisksettlement.com/CaseInfo.aspx?pas=EMS [emachinesf...lement.com]

I'd forgotten I ever bought an eMachine until I got the notice last month.

When is SlashDot going to post the Verizon story? (-1, Offtopic)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#43925673)

I know a lot of us have heard or seen the "NSA box" in our closets, but now it's official:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order [guardian.co.uk]

Off-topic, I know, but this one is boring. (Everyone already knows class action suits screw consumers.)

Re:When is SlashDot going to post the Verizon stor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925787)

They did
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/06/06/0140252/verizon-ordered-to-provide-all-customer-data-to-nsa

Re:When is SlashDot going to post the Verizon stor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925793)

Several hours ago. That's when:

Verizon Ordered To Provide All Customer Data To NSA
Posted by samzenpus on Thursday June 06, 2013 @12:27AM
from the do-you-hear-what-I-hear dept.
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/06/06/0140252/verizon-ordered-to-provide-all-customer-data-to-nsa

You were sleeping (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about a year ago | (#43925799)

When is SlashDot going to post the Verizon story?

I know a lot of us have heard or seen the "NSA box" in our closets, but now it's official:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order [guardian.co.uk]

Off-topic, I know, but this one is boring. (Everyone already knows class action suits screw consumers.)

You must have been asleep and missed it. This was the first story posted today, 27 minutes after midnight:

Verizon Ordered To Provide All Customer Data To NSA
Posted by samzenpus on 12:27 AM June 6th, 2013

Go to the front page and scroll down a bit, difficult as that apparently is. You should see the story you were hoping for.

Re:When is SlashDot going to post the Verizon stor (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#43926157)

When? They published it over eight hours ago, Swifty.

That's all for Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43926567)

Anyone who bought Vista should get a compensation.

Do the flash drives have text on them saying... (3, Funny)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year ago | (#43926621)

"I won a class action lawsuit against Acer and all I got was this stupid flash drive."

Small print ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43926847)

But in order to get any of this you'll need to provide us with extensive information which will be used for marketing purposes, and sign away some other rights.

Most importantly, these 'settlements' amount to trivial amounts, and no real admission of guilt ... gee, a whole 16GB USB stick for selling a laptop which is patently not suited for the claimed purposes, several years later when you can buy one at a gas station for $10. That makes up for selling a shitty product in the first place.

US Residents Only (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | about a year ago | (#43926939)

The Acer settlement (and all the others mentioned here, if I had to guess) is for US residents only. [kccllc.net] It's too bad this couldn't have been mentioned in the summary, the linked article, or even the front page for the settlement.

Are the /. editors yet unaware that the majority of its readership lives outside the US?

Re:US Residents Only (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#43928833)

No, but readers outside the US should know by now that these kind of settlements are restricted to the US only.

Papa John's Class-Action (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43927323)

Papa John's pizza needs to be hit with another class-action lawsuit. I've witnessed something quite illegal - here in California, delivery drivers have $1 taken off of every credit card-paid delivery they make where the tip received is over $1.95. That's a violation of California Labor Code 351.

Might as well keep suing ol Schnatter until he's out of business permanently.

Re:Papa John's Class-Action (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#43927977)

I always tip cash. That also leaves it in the hands of the tippee as to how they report it to the taxman. Also, tipping on the card can mean it takes a while for the cash to get to the receiver and cash flow can be an issue for people working those jobs.

Re:Papa John's Class-Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43929895)

Yea why should they pay tax. Fuck the man!!!!!1 Thanks richardthomasconsulting.com

Re:Papa John's Class-Action (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43930201)

"That also leaves it in the hands of the tippee as to how they report it to the taxman."

Pretty much every driver here makes less than federal minimum wage, including the tips, before illegal credit tip deductions, mileage, etc. Which means we're not reporting at all, because we're routinely falling under the filing threshold ($9,750 for 2012)

Jumped the Shark. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#43927941)

The first class action I got involved in was pretty decent. A replacement CD-writer for one that died early. The replacement wasn't SCSI like the original but fair enough. I'd bought the original one used anyway.

The last couple that have come in my mailbox though were just stupid. For trivial things that were nobody's fault and were just a waste of time and resources to take through the courts. They went straight in the trash.

What I would like to see a class action for is the broken GPS on the Galaxy S that I carried for 3 years. Total rip-off and Samsung stonewalled anyone trying to find out what the issue was.

Re:Jumped the Shark. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43929227)

> What I would like to see a class action for is the broken GPS on the Galaxy S that I carried for 3 years

Yes! Hell yes! Why that wasn't a fiasco of biblical proportions I'll never know. I finally ate the penalty to end the contract so daughter could get a phone that actually worked. We haven't bought a Samsung product since.

That and the total inability to get the AT&T techs to understand that approx positioning via cell tower is NOT the same as GPS satellite lock. No, it's not. Not even a little bit. Not the same thing. No. Not better. Not equivalent either. Gaaah. Now I have to take another Tums. Being a former Samsung/ATT customer is like having PTSD.

Re:Jumped the Shark. (1)

Myopic (18616) | about a year ago | (#43930121)

I've never owned a Samsung phone but I hope to someday. They look nice.

On the other hand, FUCK ATT. They are fucking bastards and I hated every single moment that I was their customer. I'm on a prepaid plan now (PagePlus) and much happier. My service is cheaper and better and it is totally impossible for me to be overcharged.

Re:Jumped the Shark. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43931447)

Fair enough. Daughter went through six Galaxy phones before I paid off ATT and she switched to a Verizon Bionic. But it did seem like a whole pallet of Galaxies had fallen off a truck on the way to the ATT store and they decided to sell them anyway. Lots of different bizarre issues, of which lack of GPS was only the most common.

Re:Jumped the Shark. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43930011)

Yea. I love how everyone who jumped on the Android bandwagon circa the Galaxy S2/S3 goes on about how great Samsung way. My Galaxy S was absolute garbage. Never did get usable GPS...

Did I what?? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#43929121)

> Did you buy an Acer laptop with Vista and less than 1 GB of RAM?

Um, no, because I'm not an idiot.

Optical Drives (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#43929693)

I received an email a week ago about a settlement on optical drives. Apparently it is about drive manufactures colluding to keep the disc drive prices artificially high. The email was sparse on details of the settlement and did not have details on claim amounts or how to redeem yet.

The question I had was how they determine the amount. The settlement includes PC component drives and consumer electronics devices that have drives built into them. As someone who has built a personal computer and purchased two blu-ray players in the specified period I would think I'm entitled to three times the settlement amount.

Hey neat, free upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43931213)

I bought one of these budget Acer computers a couple years ago because I needed something cheap to take with me to class. I knew full well that the RAM included would not be enough to run Vista with, and that was okay with me, as completely wiping the drive and installing a perfectly good copy of XP only took an hour or so. It's been a reliable machine ever since with only 512 megs of ram. Now I get a free upgrade for it rather than having to pay a few bucks to get actual ram for it. Works for me. I still won't be using Vista on it, tho.
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