Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm eligible for what?

So, yesterday, I go the Post Office and gather the mail for the day.  In my box I find a letter from a consulting company.  Now, typically this type of thing makes me suspicious.  I've gotten chain letters and various other odd things from "consulting" companies.

So, naturally, I opened it.  Let's see what I'm being consulted over.  And what is it?

It's related to a class-action lawsuit.  Apparently, between 1999 and 2002, several companies "conspired" to "price-fix" the cost of DRAM for computers.  A lawsuit was filed in 2005 against some companies, and then others were sued in 2010.  Somehow, large groups of people were harmed by the price-fixing, and money is due us.  I can only tell you I'm deliriously happy over this.  Well, except:

1.  I haven't had my PO Box since 2002.  In fact, I've had it a little over a year.  That means these people somehow tracked me down based on prior purchase history and current address.  That's disturbing.

2.  I have no idea what I paid for a DRAM module between 1999 and 2002.  I vaguely remember that I bought one, one time, for a computer I had at the time.  I no longer have this computer.

3.  Even if I was financially harmed by over-paying for DRAM, it's been at least 8 years.  Not 8 weeks, not 8 months.  8 years! Are you going to pay me back with interest?  Can you provide the box of more expensive diapers I didn't buy because I bought your DRAM?  Never mind that the child that was in diapers then is now nearly 10!  If I bought one DRAM module, I bought it at a price I was willing to pay, so I didn't feel overly ripped off at the time.

4.  The total on this settlement is $27.85 million.  The lawyers will receive no more than one-fourth, plus their own actual costs for being the lawyers, for the effort of finding out that at least 8 years ago I was ripped off, then violating my privacy (I've lived in 3 different states in 8 years) to connect with me, to provide me with a remedy I don't need.  And I wonder how much "actual cost" the lawyers ran up on this.  Did they need a new jet to get around the country pricing DRAM modules?

5.  Another question is this: I have no receipts for any purchases this could be related to.  I could:

A.  File that I bought $10,000 worth of DRAM and hope nobody questions it, and get it a bigger slice of what's left after the lawyers.

B.  Estimate that I bought 1 module, find some way to estimate the price, and file it.

C.  Just not bother, and wonder what happens if not enough people claim money.  Does more go to the lawyers?

Where does the money come from for these settlements?  Simple: the cost of your next purchase from Hitachi, Toshiba, or Mitsubishi will go up to cover it.  And to cover the probable next lawsuit they'll see. 

Folks, this is insane.  Really, it is.  That $28 million, what could it do?  Here are some examples:

1.  Employ 112 people with good salaries and benefits for a year.

2.  Fund the startup costs for Ouachita Baptist University to have a graduate School of Theology.

3.  Relieve 280 ordinary Americans that are highly stressed on their mortgages.

4.  According to FeedingAmerica.org, $1 provides 7 meals to people in the US, especially children and the elderly, that are hungry.  Let's do the math: 7x28= 196.  Add the million: 196 million meals.

Let's be nice.  Just divide all of those by 4, and realize that the profit of the lawyers would do that.  49 million meals.  That's still allowing the law firm to recoup its actual costs, including the salaries and benefits of employees.

Instead, what will I get?  I'd probably get a $5 gift card to some store that doesn't exist in Arkansas or that I'd have to spend more money to use.

So, I'll not bother.  Instead, I'll imagine what would happen if we only used the courts and legal system to address real wrongs in our society.  Yeah, that'll be the day.



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