You may recall the announcement of a settlement in the De Beers diamond lawsuit class action that could put money back in your pocket for your recent diamond jewelry purchases. And even more recently in the news is word that those popular Airborne anti-sickness supplements probably don’t work, and a class action lawsuit against Airborne’s makers could give you a decent-sized refund.
At this point you may be sitting there thinking, “Hmm, maybe I could make a living buying all sorts of garbage and waiting for the manufacturer to get sued so I can cash in on the settlement.” But before you quit your job and set up a tent in the back of your local courthouse, keep in mind that relying on class action lawsuits for a steady income is, to put it gently, super-duper retarded.
That said, there are still some class actions on the horizon (either just being filed, in the process of being considered in court, or going to settlement) that could net you a few bucks based on your past purchases or actions. Below you’ll find a list of some of the more interesting lawsuits making headlines that might include you in their affected classes.
It’s Not So Comcastic After All!
Who’s Getting Sued: Comcast, everyone’s favorite cable and internet services provider.
What’s It About? Comcast is being sued in California and Washington D.C. for interfering with popular peer-to-peer downloads, allegedly slowing their speeds or sometimes preventing them altogether. Comcast may argue that it can do whatever the hell it wants with its internet tubes, while the consumers bringing the suits will probably throw Comcast’s claims of unfettered internet access back in its face.
How Much Money Could I Expect? Don’t worry too much if you’re a Comcast user but you don’t live in California or D.C. It’s only a matter of time before one of these lawsuits transforms into a nationwide action or a separate one pops up in your neighborhood. If Comcast loses or agrees to settle, you may be able to get a partial or full refund for your internet access fees over a certain time period—anywhere from a few months to a few years.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “comcast class action” in your RSS reader.
Never Get Between a Gamer and His Fun
Who’s Getting Sued: Microsoft, maker of the Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows, and other things that tend to break a lot.
What’s It About? Millions of gamers seeking to unwind over the December 2007 holiday break instead ended up breaking Microsoft’s Xbox Live online videogame service which couldn’t handle the extreme load on its servers, resulting in an outage of the service that lasted for days. A handful of enraged gamers in Texas, not satisfied with Microsoft’s apology which came with a free arcade game dowload, filed a class action suit in January seeking $5 million in damages.
How Much Money Could I Expect? If you’re lucky, you might get a free month of Xbox Live service or a refund for the alleged outage period. One month of Xbox Live service runs for about $8.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “xbox live class action” in your RSS reader.
Two Cases Sprint-ing to the Courthouse
Who’s Getting Sued: Sprint Nextel Corp., provider of cellular phone services and constant buyer’s remorse.
What’s It About? Sprint Nextel saw itself hit with two class action lawsuits in February 2008—one alleging it illegally extended cell phone contracts for pretty much any reason (You like the color blue? That’s a two-year contract extension.), and another claiming it improperly charged roaming fees.
How Much Money Could I Expect? Your guess is as good as mine. Depending on how the proceeds of any settlement or award are split, you might see anywhere from a few bucks to a bucket of cash if you were hit with unfair roaming fees or contract extensions. Just the contract extension suit by itself could bring in hundreds of dollars of monthly fee refunds for consumers who were wrongly locked into longer contracts.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “sprint nextel class action” in your RSS reader.
Your Blu-ray Player Doesn’t Work? Uh, It’s Supposed to Do That
Who’s Getting Sued: Samsung, manufacturer of electronic toys for girls and boys.
What’s It About? This one’s pretty straightforward: buyers of Samsung’s early generation of Blu-ray players insist they (the players) are pieces of junk that won’t play the latest awesome Blu-ray movies like Fantastic 4 and The Land Before Time 47: Hi-Def Dinos. Samsung responded to the lawsuit saying, “Oh crap, we were hoping nobody would notice that.”
How Much Money Could I Expect? Samsung should settle this one pretty quickly since it’s so obvious they’re in the wrong. Expect a lame settlement though—something like discount vouchers for another piece of crap Samsung Blu-ray player.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “samsung blu-ray class action” in your RSS reader.
Yeah, This PC’s About As Vista Capable As My Game Boy
Who’s Getting Sued: Microsoft, software giant that gets sued for every product it ever makes.
What’s It About? Consumers allege that Microsoft, in order to keep PC sales going during the multi-year delays of its new Vista operating system, slapped “Vista Capable” stickers on PCs and laptops originally equipped with Windows XP that can now barely run the most basic version of Vista. PC buyers are mad that they spent money on machines that are already out-of-date.
How Much Money Could I Expect? I think Microsoft knows it screwed up badly on this one, so expect a speedy settlement. Depending on how stupid the plantiff’s attorneys are, you could personally see anything from a free copy of “Vista Basic, Lawsuit Edition” for your woefully inadequate PC to a partial or full refund of your machine’s purchase price.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “vista capable class action” in your RSS reader.
Buy This .com Domain Today For Just $5. No, $10. Now It’s $30. No Wait…
Who’s Getting Sued: Network Solutions, overpriced domain name registrar.
What’s It About? Domain name hunters claim that popular but pricey registrar Network Solutions would put a hold on domain names when users searched for them on its website, preventing the searcher from buying it on a competing registrar’s website at a much lower price. Network Solutions charges roughly $35 a year for domain name registrations; for comparison, I paid GoDaddy.com about $7 to renew punny.org this year.
How Much Money Could I Expect? The typical personal payout for this lawsuit could be some fraction of that $35 a year fee if you found yourself forced to buy a domain from Network Solutions due to their automatic holds. But if you decided not to give in to NetSol’s extortion, you may be better off filing your own suit against them (and excluding yourself from this class during the award distribution phase) to recover whatever actual damages you experienced not being able to get your desired domain name.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “network solutions class action” in your RSS reader.
90% Efficient… About 50% of the Time
Who’s Getting Sued: Furnace manufacturers Carrier, Bryant, Payne, and Day & Night.
What’s It About? This lawsuit is already in the settlement phase, but it slipped under a lot of people’s radars due to lack of mainstream media coverage. In short, those 90% efficiency furnaces that are supposed to save you money on your heating bills will end up costing you more in the long run because they break down far more often than their 80% efficient counterparts.
How Much Money Could I Expect? Current or previous owners of certain furnace models will get $270 and an enhanced warranty. You have until August 1, 2008 to submit your claim form at www.furnaceclaims.com.
How Do I Track This Case? Subscribe to Google News updates on “carrier bryant class action” in your RSS reader.
Now before you start planning a trip to Jamaica using your chunk of the awards from these lawsuits, remember that there are a few things standing in your way of cashing those settlement checks:
- They have to, like, win the case first. Or at least push the defendants into a settlement.
- Lawyers get their huge cut of the money first.
- Big business lawsuits can drag on for years.
- You’ll probably need receipts for your affected purchases. If you didn’t keep them, your benefits may be reduced or eliminated altogether.
- Anyone named Nick gets his check first. It’s the law. Look it up in this law book of mine that I wrote just now.
Your best bet for keeping up with these class action suits so you don’t miss out on your piece of the settlement pies is by subscribing to the RSS feeds posted with each story above. Each one should monitor Google’s news service for updates to each case and notify you in your feed reader if the suits are settled, won, lost or dismissed.