For those of you who bought computers, printers, video game consoles, MP3 players, personal digital devices, DVD players and digital recorders between 1998 and 2002, the Oregon Justice Department has a deal for you.
Even if said electronics were long ago recycled, sold at garage sales, relegated to a dusty shelf in the garage or otherwise discarded, Oregon businesses and individuals are entitled to their share in a $310 million multi-state price-fixing settlement with major manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory computer chips.
Perhaps the best part is that no receipts are necessary, although documentation may come in handy with some claims.
DOJ spokesperson Kristina Edmunson said any Oregonian who purchased an electronic device between 1998-2002 is most likely eligible for money back. The claims, however, must be filed by Friday, Aug. 1. Justice anticipates payment to be about $10 per device, with larger devices receiving more money.
In October 2005, Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, agreed to plead guilty and pay a $300 million fine for participating in a global conspiracy to fix prices. At the time, when the global market for such chips was nearing $8 billion, it was the second-largest criminal antitrust fine ever levied.
The federal government spent more than three years investigating Samsung of Korea, along with competitors Hynix Semiconductor of Korea and Infineon Technologies of Germany, before filing charges the firms were conspiring to fix prices of DRAM chips. Hynix and Infineon also pleaded guilty.
Edmunson said Oregon began its investigation in 2005, joining a multi-state effort a year later. A settlement was reached in March and received court approval following a June 25 hearing. The defendants deny that they did anything wrong.
"This is the last piece of the settlement puzzle," Edmunson said. "Most folks have upgraded from their DVD player they had at the time. You don't have to still own the equipment, as long as you purchased it."
Refunds will be issued after final court approval of the settlements and the resolution of any appeals. The amount of each refund will depend on the type and quantity of electronic devices the claimant purchased, and the total number of claims made. Payments will not exceed the actual difference between the purchase price and the expected price in the absence of the alleged price fixing.
To file a claim, visit www.DRAMclaims.com, or call 1-800-589-1425.
— Greg Stiles