Personal Finance 
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Wal-Mart Netflix Class-Action Settlement

Wal-MartIn 2005, Wal-Mart and Netflix made a deal. Wal-Mart would kill its DVD rental subscription service and push customers towards Netflix. Netflix wouldn’t sell DVDs and would instead tell folks to go to Wal-Mart. It was a win-win deal for both companies. It was a lose-lose deal for customers and those familiar with collusion and anti-competitive practices will know that something like this just isn’t going to fly. Competition brings down prices and so the argument is that without Wal-Mart keeping Netflix in check, DVD rental subscription prices wouldn’t be as low as they “normally” would. You know what’s next – lawsuits!

Class action lawsuits were filed against both companies and last year Wal-Mart settled (Netflix is still fighting). If you live in the United States (and Puerto Rico) and paid a subscription fee to Netflix anytime between May 19, 2005 and September 2, 2011, you are a member of the class. Visit the settlement website for more information but here is the claim form. You have until February 14, 2012 to file a claim.

Unfortunately, the settlement was for $27,250,000 and 25% goes to to the laywers. An additional $5,000 for each class representative and there will also be fees and costs deducted. Then, divide that by everyone who files a claim (which will be many) and chances are we’ll all get cash or gift cards worth about a nickel. :)

(Photo: alphageek)


 Banking 
62
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National City – PNC Bank Overdraft Settlement

This is a reminder to anyone who may be eligible for a piece of the $12 million settlement (litigation Trombley v. National City Bank, No. 1:10-CV-232) that the deadline to submit a claim for those benefits is creeping up, you have a little over a month until the August 26th, 2011 deadline. If you haven’t excluded yourself (that deadline has passed, it was June 27th) then you might as well download the claim form and submit it, otherwise you’ll get nothing.

Who is eligible? “The Settlement offers payments to eligible people who paid Overdraft Fees on a National City deposit account between July 1, 2004 and August 15, 2010, whether or not such fees were charged before or after National City was merged into PNC, where the overdraft fees resulted from you using your bank card.”

How much will you get? “As long as there are sufficient funds available in the Settlement Fund, each Settlement Class Member who submits a valid claim will receive $36 for each eligible Overdraft Fee. If sufficient funds are available, Settlement Class Members may be paid up to three times this amount. If the total amount needed to pay valid claims exceeds funds available in the Settlement Fund, each Settlement Class Member’s payment will be reduced and paid in proportion to all Settlement Class Members’ payments.”

If you want more information, you can visit the website or call 1-866-960-5706.


 Banking 
699
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Bank of America Overdraft Fee Lawsuit Settlement

Bank of America ATMsIn late May, Bank of America’s $410 million settlement of a class action lawsuit concerning debit-card overdraft fees received preliminary approval from a Miami federal judge. Thirty five banks were named in a class-action litigation and Bank of America was the first to settle. The final approval hearing will be November 7th.

Did you just get a letter in the mail about the Bank of America overdraft fee lawsuit settlement? Congratulations, you’re due for a little piece of the $410 million dollar settlement that Bank of America agreed to several months ago in litigation named “In Re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, No. 1:09-MD-02036-JLK” (they’ve settled on a lot of things, but that’s the one this post is about). The agreement has been approved and you can now take action.

Remember a few years ago when it was revealed that banks were (allegedly) playing games when it came to the ordering of various transactions? Fifth Third Bank settled in April on something very similar. Well, the lawsuit charged that banks were processing charges days after a purchase was made, they were reordering the processing times, and doing all sorts of other chicanery in order to maximize fee income. I won’t be surprised to hear other banks settling too.

The judge ordered that the administrator create a website (it’s now past July 1st so that’s the website) and toll-free number (1-800-372-2390) by July 1st, so look for a website by then. Also, all class members will receive a postcard by September 2nd.

According to the website, if you want to get payment or account credit, you don’t have to do anything. The website states: “You do not have to do anything to get a payment or account credit from the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement and it becomes final and effective, all identifiable Settlement Class Members who are entitled to receive a cash benefit and who remain in the Settlement Class will automatically get a payment or account credit and will give up their legal rights against Bank of America about thes claims in this litigation.”

If you want to exclude yourself from the settlement, and thus retain the right to bring separate litigation, object, or go to a hearing, you can do so via the website (or find out more information on how to do so. If you do nothing, you’ll get paid a portion of the settlement amount.

(Photo: rainforestactionnetwork)


 Banking 
194
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Fifth Third Bank Overdraft Lawsuit Settlement

Fifth Third BankA few years ago, banks did some crafty things to juice up their fee revenue. One of those things was the re-ordering of debit card and ATM transactions to maximize insufficient funds and overdraft fees. Instead of posting the transactions in chronological order, which one would expect, transactions at Fifth Third Bank were not posted in chronological order. Fifth Third Bank was sued in a class action lawsuit and settled for $9.5 million.

If you are or were a Fifth Third bank customer between October 21st, 2004 and July 1st, 2010 and were assessed at least one overdraft fee with a debit card transaction, you can submit a claim form. Your settlement is amount is is up to three times the amount you claim on the form. If you can’t remember whether or not you paid an overdraft fee, you can submit a request with Fifth Third Bank and they will provide that data free of charge (according to the claim website).

The deadline to submit a claim is May 2nd, 2011.

Here is the official settlement website.

(Photo: valkyrieh116)


 NEWS 
30
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Dannon Settlement: Activia and DanActive Priobiotics Lawsuit

Dannon DanActive YogurtDannon has settled a class action lawsuit filed in January of 2008 that its claims of the health benefits of “probiotics” in their Activia and DanActive line of yogurts were falsely advertised. In their most recent press release (link) they offered:

“The decision to settle this case is based on the Company’s desire to avoid the distraction and expense of litigation and to quickly resume 100 percent focus on making products that provide proven health benefits to millions of highly satisfied consumers. This resolves the plaintiff’s concerns while affirming the essence of the claims of Activia and DanActive, which are substantiated by years of scientific research.” said Michael Neuwirth, spokesperson for The Dannon Company.

What does this mean for you? You may be entitled to a piece of the $35 million fund created to provide cash refunds to people who file a claim. You can’t get the claim form yet but you will be able to get them at DannonSettlement.com (the URL currently redirects to another law firm, not sure if that’ll be used for the claim form) once the site has been set up.

The stipulation of settlement for the case (26 pages) outlines the details of the settlement. From what I can tell, you can file a claim electronically or by mail. You can claim up to $15 without a receipt of purchase. You can claim $15 to $30 by submitting a Claim Form signed under penalty of perjury, but also without receipt of purchase. You can claim $30 to $100 but you must provide proof of purchase. How much you actually get paid out will depend on the number of valid claims.

The Dannon Settlement website is up and you can file a claim here.

This post will be updated as more details emerge.

(Photo: star5112)


 Shopping 
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Airborne Settlement Increased to $30M

Airborne In A Coffee CupEarlier this year, I wrote about the details of the Airborne Settlement and how you could claim your Airborne settlement refund. Airborne agreed to settle a complaint with the FTC of false advertising because their nasty orange mixture doesn’t actually prevent colds. The original settlement was for $23.5M and the FTC recently added $6.5M to the original figure to bring it to $30M (this is all subject to approval by a federal court in California).

If you purchased an Airborne product between May 2001 and November 2007, you qualify to participate in this settlement. You can get a refund for as many items as you can prove you bought in that time period (purchase receipts) plus six. If you have no receipts, you can claim six without any proof of purchase. If you have receipts for 2 items, you can claim eight. This means that a lot of people can claim six products purchased without any proof and so you probably will just get a microscopic percentage of the $30M settlement (at least it’s $6.5M higher!).

The deadline to submit is 15 September 2008. If you opt to mail it in, it must be postmarked by September 15th.

Resources:

(photo: fredosan)


 Credit 
7
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TransUnion Free Credit Score Settlement

If you had a credit card, loan or credit account between January 1987 and May 28th, 2008, you are eligible to file a claim in a preliminary settlement of a class-action lawsuit (though not slated to be approved until September, though it’s probably going to happen). That’s a whole lot of people. The lawsuit was filed eight years ago in Chicago and alleges that TransUnion sold consumer profile information to businesses, which is a violation of federal law. What started in Chicago certainly didn’t stay there, eventually there were 14 federal lawsuits. Yikes!

(Thanks to Cap, if you used TransUnion or TrueLink between December 1, 1999 and April 16, 2007, you can get three months of credit monitoring through a settlement in the Robert V. Townes, IV v. TransUnion, LLC and TrueLink, Inc. case, deadline for that settlement is July 22, 2008)

What Do You Get?

You may be eligible for one of two options:

(1) Basic relief. Free credit monitoring for six months, which gives you daily access to your credit report and credit score and 24-hour credit-monitoring service. This normally costs $59.75. Those who elect this option may get a cash payment if there’s money left from the $75 million settlement fund.

(2) Enhanced relief. An alternative enhanced set of services” in exchange for a full release of claims. This options includes nine months credit monitoring, a suite of insurance scores and TransUnion’s mortgage simulator service. This option normally would cost $115.50. You won’t be entitled to any cash payment under this option. [Source: Phuong Cat Le of SeattlePI.com]

What Are My Option?

Option 1, basic relief, is the only one where you could potentially get money (if there’s any left over). If you elect basic relief you can get the free credit monitoring for 6 months or a $59.75 cash payment. I don’t think there will be any cash left over in the $75 million settlement fund (there never seems to be, plus you figure with the internet and how fast information spreads, you’ll get a pretty high percentage of the estimated 160 million eligible Americans registering for this).

Option 2, enhanced relief, has no cash out option and comes with three aditional months of credit monitoring, and a “suite of insurance scores.” There’s conflicting interpretation of “suite of insurance scores.” Some news outlets are reporting that it’s your credit score, others call it a different score that insurance companies use to determine your rates. I didn’t know that there were even separate scores (there may not be) in the first place. Bottom line, you will get a credit related number for free that you otherwise would’ve had to pay for.

My Thoughts

  1. All the estimates put the settlement cost in the billions, yet TransUnion said they’d earmarked $75 million (this could always go up). They must not think people are going to sign up for this.
  2. Option 1 seems more like a waste of time for the consumer and a boon for TransUnion. Getting credit monitoring for six months and then not renewing is like getting life insurance for six months and then canceling. Sure, you’re protected for six months but then what? Maybe you forget to cancel something or end up renewing the service, both earn money for TransUnion (turn a big long lawsuit in a money making venture, brilliant!). I wonder if we’ll hear complaints in six months (maybe I’m just cynical) about it. Nix that, no credit card will be required.
  3. Option 2 seems a little better, though it still has the failings of Option 1, but you get to see some credit related score for free.
  4. If you aren’t interested in either option, I’d register for Option 1 and see if you can get cash; that’s likely what I’ll be doing. I think we need to see the options all spelled out and finalized before reserving judgment.

How To Participate

First, you’ll have to register. After June 16th, 2008, you can register online at www.listclassaction.com or by calling them up at 1-866-416-3470. As of May 31st, the website doesn’t work yet.

Lastly, you can always get a free copy of your credit report, thanks to Federal Law, through AnnualCreditReport.com.


 Shopping 
16
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$23.3M Airborne Refund Settlement Details & Forms

This has ended.

What happens when you make a product that promises to “boost your immune system” and ward off colds? You make a ton of money, if it actually boosts your immune system and wards off colds. When you make that promise and don’t actually do that, at least anymore than a sugar pill placebo, then you are called Airborne and you settle for $23.3 million for false advertising. I’ve never taken the stuff, mostly because it looks like a nasty orange mixture and because I didn’t believe it, but a lot of people did and if you are one of those people, you are entitled to a piece of the settlement.

If you did drink the stuff, you probably didn’t do your body any harm; the mixture was just a super-shot of Vitamin C along with some other goodness that was mostly likely expelled out of your body the next time you used the bathroom. In fact, Vitamin C is water soluble and you urinate out anything more than 100% the daily recommended value (so the extra 230948203483209% is pretty much useless). If you do feel a cold coming on, taking Vitamin C is not a bad idea but taking 2309428304923% will not help anymore than 100%. (Some other vitamins such as A, are fat soluble and thus not expelled in urine, and you can certainly overdose on those so be very careful!)

Anyway, if you bought an Airborne product between 01 May 2001 and 29 November 2007, then you qualify to file a claim against the settlement. If you have proofs of purchase (unlikely unless you are a serious receipt filer) then you can get a refund for everything you bought and stuff have a proof of purchase for. Otherwise, you can claim as many as six products in addition to the ones you have proof for. So, if you have a receipt for three boxes then you can make a claim for as many as nine (3 proofs plus 6 undocumented items). The only downside is that everyone and their mother is likely to make a claim since you can claim up to 6 items without proof, whether you bought it or not, so you will only get your piece after the $23.3MM has been divvied up.

The deadline to submit is 15 September 2008. If you opt to mail it in, it must be postmarked by September 15th.

Resources:


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