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back to article The long war on 'DRAM price fixing' is over: Claim YOUR spoils now (It's worth a few beers)

Remember getting hosed on those 128MB DIMM RAM sticks back in Y2K? Well, it's time to exact your revenge: with a $10 payout. A group of US Attorneys General have agreed to a $310m settlement package with memory chip makers, which is to be distributed among the public, following allegations of price gouging by vendors between the …

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Facepalm

Just great...

What if I *was* a US resident at that time, but no longer am?

I better start a lawsuit to get my $10!

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Re: Just great...

I just e-mailed them to ask how to do that, since their idiotic web form of course will not allow anything but a US mailing address.

Yes, on occasion people do actually LEAVE The Land Of The Free.

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Leave the US?

Not with upwards of ten federal deserve dollars on your person you won't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just great...

Don't you really mean

Some people Escape from the so called 'Land of the Free'?

Anon but that won't stop the NSA from targetting me now will it?

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Re: Just great...

Silly me. I thought they could maybe FIX THE WEB SITE?

Dear xxxxxxxxxxxxx,

Thank you for your email. If you currently reside outside of the United States, but purchased DRAM during the class period while residing in any state or territory in the United States, you can still submit a claim. If you supply me with your mailing address, I would be happy to mail you a claim form. Alternately, there is the option to print a claim form from the website www.DRAMclaims.com.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Thank you,

Claims Administrator

DRAM Indirect Purchaser Antitrust Litigation

info@DRAMClaims.com

1-800-589-1425

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Pint

Oh THAT kind of Dram. Worried there for a minute!!

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

DON'T tell your friends!

Quoting from the settlement site.

"There is also a highly unlikely possibility that Small Claimants will not receive an individual payment. This is because there is a cap of $50 million on the portion of the Settlement Fund that can be used to compensate Small Claimants. Therefore, if there are more than 5 million Small Claimants, which is not anticipated, no cash distribution will be made to them. Instead, $40 million will be distributed for their general benefit to non-profit organizations approved by the Court, as described above."

So if too many people file a claim then nobody gets anything.

Also, one wonders why the non-profits don't get the full $50M in that event...

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Bronze badge

Re: DON'T tell your friends!

Why does nothing designed by lawyers make the slightest bit of sense?

How about just paying $10 to the first 5 million claimants? That would make a lot more sense.

Why $40M rather then the full $10M? Easy. No doubt some law firm will take $10M in administration fees, even though administering such a distribution would cost less than administering $10 each to 5 million claimants.

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Silver badge
Pirate

Re: DON'T tell your friends!

Class action lawsuits no longer benefit anyone but the lawyers.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Free market" means free to eff you up the arse without consequence.

Big business is stealing from you everyday and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Wasn't this settled years ago???

Micron cut me a check, out of the blue, for price fixing. I got far more than what this payout seems to be.

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Silver badge

Re: Wasn't this settled years ago???

Did you inform the IRS to enjoy suitable taxation?

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Silver badge

Re: Wasn't this settled years ago???

If you claimed the original purchase as an expense and got a tax deduction, then you will have to pay some of it back when you receive your rebate; if you didn't, then you won't have to pay anything as it is a partial refund of a non-deductible expense.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Really?

Just give the lot to some secular charity.

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Facepalm

Re: Really?

Just give the lot to some secular charity.

Often nowadays the charities to whom the lucre is given in lieu of actual injured parties are in league with the class-action plaintiffs' attorneys. Who are not mentioned in the article, but are unmistakably alluded to at the Web site linked to in the article.* The unmentioned presence of these private attorneys is the reason why the settlement is not limited to residents of the 33 states whose AGs chose to sue, each of whom is legally authorized to represent victims only in his own state.

And no doubt the $10 million missing or unaccounted for when "only" $40 million, instead of $50 million, gets funneled to these "non-profit" organizations — "for the general benefit" of the (by hypothesis) over 5 million actual victims who are classified as "Small Claimants" — represents a commission or finder's fee — i.e., a kickback — paid to the lawyers by the organizations receiving the windfall. It's win-win for everyone except the actual victims, who end up with nothing. (Except of course that lovely, vicarious "general benefit.") And the courts look the other way.

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* The article only mentions state attorneys general — at one point even calling them "US Attorneys General," even though none of them has ever actually been the U.S. Attorney General.

However, the Web site linked to in the article ("dramclaims.com") says right up front that there were class action lawsuits as well as suits by the state AGs. Class action lawsuits are always and inherently private lawsuits brought by private attorneys representing individual clients, and the fact of these private lawsuits is what explains the fact that the settlement is not limited to residents of the 33 states whose AGs brought so-called "parens patriae" suits on behalf of residents of their respective states. See items 6 and 7 of the site's FAQ page.

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Flame

What about today's price gouging?

DDR3 must be double the price it was 2-3 years ago.

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$10 = only bottom feeding, lottery playing, monthly government check depending people will apply.

Even if I got hosed on 256MB DRAM 10 years ago it was too long ago for me to remember or care. I have moved on.

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Bronze badge

Was any of that necessary?

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@Pet Peeve Re: "Was any of that necessary?"

Apparently so. He clearly needed to get his rancid contempt for all those lower down the food-chain than he is off his chest. One is of course entitled to wonder what the hell that has to do with the DRAM price-fixing ring. However, his personality problems are indeed his problem and not ours - praise be!

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Bronze badge

With the name Joe Drunk, I can only assume you posted this while taking after your name.

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Bronze badge

Here's the thing: You'd have to be a complete idiot to turn down a free ten bucks. So guess what that makes Joe Drunk?

Except of course that he's not just an idiot, he's a snob too.

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Silver badge

snob...

s/k?

whatever

he's both

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Silver badge
Big Brother

Meanwhile, tweeting from the federal gun grab in Missouri....

What if I, as a buyer, was actually OKAY WITH THE PRICE I PAID!

Am I now a government-despising scum that is an insult to western civilization or its remains?

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Silver badge

Re: Meanwhile, tweeting from the federal gun grab in Missouri....

ordinarily I'd say 'no'

but i recognise the nick, so 'meh'

:D

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Joke

A few bers?

You mean a wee dram, surely?

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lawyer get-rich fund

I see that the players get 25%

PLUS their costs and expenses. Sweet for them. For us, closer to "sour".

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Devil

Re: lawyer get-rich fund

And all the state attorneys general get something to brag about in their campaigns to be reelected or reappointed, or to be elected or appointed to the governorship, the U.S. Senate, or the state supreme court.

Excuse me. I meant they all get the deep satisfaction of knowing they have served the public they were sworn to protect!

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Anonymous Coward

Waste of time for anyone but the lawyers

Wow, I sure am glad I saved that receipt for that 256MB stick of RAM I bought in 2001! Definitely gonna be worth my time to dig it up, fill out the form, include the evidence, send it off, receive the $10 check, then pay it into my bank account.

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Gold badge

Re: Waste of time for anyone but the lawyers

Follow the link to the site. Apparently no documentation is necessary. It looks like you just need a US mailing address and be old enough that you probably bought something that qualifies. (Hence the previous commentards remark that it is free money to anyone who can be bothered.)

In that light, the claim that it is "unlikely" that 5 million claimants will come forward (thereby exceeding the $50m pot for small claims) looks vulnerable.

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Re: Waste of time for anyone but the lawyers

I won't bother with a claim, in order to increase the odds of the "victims" getting something. How's that for generous? Although it is possible for these settlement thingies to result in real money...sometime around 2005 I bought a graphics card, which was also apparently price-fixed, and was a few years later informed that I was part of a lawsuit but could opt out if I wanted. I didn't, since that would have involved some effort, and a while later I got a check for around $100 more than I had paid for the card in the first place. If I'd known that was going to happen, I would have bought dozens of the things....

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Childcatcher

Re: Waste of time for anyone but the lawyers

Ken Hagan, you win the prize!

With no proof or documentation of a purchase within the covered time period required, it is indeed free money to anyone who asks for it.

Except if enough people ask for it, none of them will get any of it! As soon as that 5,000,001st "Small Claimant" shows up, the lawyers are relieved of the burden and expense of writing and mailing all those checks (which probably would cost one or two million dollars in postage alone), AND they get to pocket another $10 million for themselves!

(The difference between the $50 million allocated for payments to "Small Claimants" and the $40 million that will be paid to complicit "non-profit" organizations "for the general benefit" of the over 5 million Small Claimants who are not being paid!)

Viewed in this light, the Web site's assertion that it "is not anticipated" that "there [will be] more than 5 million Small Claimants" does indeed sound disingenuous, or at least highly questionable, and the site's dismissal of the "possibility that Small Claimants will not receive an individual payment" as "highly unlikely" looks like mere preemptive, anticipatory posturing: "We don't expect to be forced to keep another $10, 11 or 12 million for ourselves. No siree, Bob, we definitely do not! (Of course you never know.)"

However sincere or insincere their prediction, the lawyers behind the site have done everything in their power to rig the game in favor of more than 5 million Small Claimants showing up, and therefore of another $11 or 12 million falling into their own pockets. They have done everything they can to encourage as many people as possible to submit claims, and gratuitously imposed a rule whereby if too many people submit claims then none of them will be paid, and the lawyers will benefit personally if this should end up happening.

Are we really supposed to believe — or care — if the people who invited the entire town to their party feign surprise when the entire town shows up? Their prediction that this will not happen, and that their own decisions will not have the obvious consequence — or at least tendency — that Ken Hagan points out, means nothing.

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Bronze badge

The biggest harm done by this price fixing was not to consumers buying the damn stuff, but from the damages involved in the mass theft of memory. The costs as a result including lost business, the cost of repairs and of course corporates clearing out memory suppliers thus probably pushing up prices a little more.

I recall one theft where an entire floor of a large office block was stripped of its memory. Every PC had been carefully opened, the screws laid on in neat rows on desks and the memory carefully removed. A very professional job. That one involved costs from lost business and of course the cost of replacing all that memory, but jobs like that were rare. More commonly we were called out to jobs where PCs had been ripped open with crow bars and memory modules ripped out damaging motherboards. The end result of this was usually that most of the PCs on such a job needed replacing. The stupid thing being that often in these jobs you could tell a lot of the modules had been damaged when they were removed, rendering them worthless. The apes doing these jobs often didn't even recognize the memory and ripped out other components that vaguely resembled memory. Those jobs were much more expensive and all because some dodgy buggers decided that fixing RAM prices was a good move.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Score to date:

Lawyers and companies - on beeeellion dollars in profits

Screwed over customers - a pint of beer.

Don't you just love fascism?

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Bronze badge

Might as well file, the computers are in the closet!

I still have a couple of the systems gathering dust in the closet. So why not file? I can actually show the memory. They don't ask for any proof, though, like sales receipts. If I were them, I'd be asking for some proof of purchase. That would cut the claims down!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Might as well file, the computers are in the closet!

The form is very simple to fill out, too. I went onto a few accounts to look up past order history and found a bunch of stuff I had completely forgotten I had purchased way back then. Covers memory modules, whole computers, printers, video cards, game consoles, DVD players, DVRs, MP3 players, PDAs, and more

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No one has mentioned something rather odd to me. The value of the settlement is silly. I am pretty sure 380 million or what ever it worked out to is less then the amount these companies pay in taxes every year.

Why not just put a levy on their earnings and put the money back into the government. Where it will be used for something useful like 3 hour breaks for road crews.

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Boffin

Why not just put a levy on their earnings and put the money back into "the government"?

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The value of the settlement is silly.

Should it be higher or lower in your opinion?

And keep in mind, according to the theory underlying antitrust law, it should only be equal to the amount of harm that the 12 defendant companies have done to consumers by overcharging for DRAMs, and by not selling enough of them as a result.

You are of course free to offer and go by a different theory — indeed, I have a different one of my own that I have thus far chosen to keep to myself — but that is the standard theory on which lawsuits of this sort are predicated.

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Why not just put a levy on their earnings and put the money back into the government?

That's a good question, but it has a reasonably compelling answer in this case: None of the 33 states whose attorneys general decided to sue is in a position to impose the levy you suggest. And while the private lawsuits and all the state lawsuits were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the U.S. Government itself had no direct part in this suit. Neither the Justice Department nor the Federal Trade Commission had any involvement in the case at all.

I assume that by "the government" you meant the national government, and that what you had in mind was a sweeping levy that would be effective nationwide. But in fact there was not one government involved here but 33. Including not only big ones like New York, Florida and California, but Maine, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa . . . I doubt these are the taxing jurisdictions you had in mind! And I especially doubt you were advocating a levy that would have effect in Rhode Island but not Connecticut, in North Dakota but not South Dakota, and in New Mexico but not Texas.

(See item 7 on the FAQ page of the lawsuit's Web site for a list of the 33 states whose attorneys general were involved. It isn't clear whether these state AGs sued under federal law, state law, or both.

Item 9 identifies the 12 defendant companies.)

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Where it will be used for something useful like 3 hour breaks for road crews.

Agreed. Plowing the money back into government, even if feasible here, would be tantamount to setting it on fire.

And it would not confer any benefit on the supposedly injured parties.

(Nor would bestowing a $40 million windfall on a select group of "non-profit" organizations chosen by the lawyers and the courts confer any benefit on the actual victims. This BS "general benefit" of the victims theory is just that — BS. It is a pretext for bestowing an unearned $40 million windfall on friends of the lawyers, while the lawyers pocket an additional $10 million for themselves. Leaving the actual victims conspicuously empty-handed and out in the cold.)

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