Want to make a quick $10 from an old optical drive? Customers who purchased a computer with a built-in DVD drive between April 1, 2003, and December 31, 2008, can complete this form to receive up to $10 for the drive based on a recent settlement made by Sony, NEC, Panasonic, and Hitachi-LG. The settlement covers external drives, too, enabling customers to claim more than one optical drive. Claims must be submitted by July 1, 2017.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed against optical disc drive manufacturers years ago that accuses these companies of conspiring to inflate optical disc drive prices that were sold to the big device makers and retailers. Because PC builders like Dell and HP purchase in bulk, they look for the cheapest offer from optical drive makers. However, these suppliers were apparently sharing their bids with each other to inflate drive prices to artificially high levels.
While this drove up the prices of desktop and laptops, the inflation also affected optical drives sold on store shelves. The settlement filed in December of 2016 specifically mentions Circuit City, which, during the “conspiracy period,” purchased large numbers of optical drives worth billions of dollars. This hurt the electronics retailer “to the tune of millions of dollars,” the settlement said. Circuit City closed its retail stores in 2009 and sold its brand to Systemax (TigerDirect).
Here are the remaining defendants accused of inflating optical drive prices during the conspiracy period:
- BenQ Corporation
- BenQ America Corp.
- Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
- Lite-On IT Corporation
- Philips & Lite-On Digital Solutions Corp.
- Philips & Lite-On Digital Solutions USA, Inc.
- Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
- Toshiba Corp.
- Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corp.
- Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corp. Korea
- TEAC America Inc.
- TEAC Corporation, Quanta Storage America, Inc.
- Quanta Storage Inc.
- Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.
- Pioneer North America, Inc.
- Pioneer Corporation
- Pioneer High Fidelity Taiwan Co., Ltd.
Note that these companies may settle out of court as well. If not, the jury trial begins on February 12, 2018. One Hitachi-LG executive already went to prison over this whole price inflation fiasco in 2012, after pleading guilty to conspiring with others to rig bids for optical drives sold in bulk to HP. The executive agreed to serve six months in prison, cough up a $25,000 criminal fine, and help the Department of Justice in its investigation.
Unfortunately, the settlement isn’t for everyone, as it only covers individuals and businesses residing in the following jurisdictions:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Finally, the form states that customers who file a “valid and timely” claim will receive an electronic payment. It also states that the settlement payment will be based on “qualifying” purchases, meaning customers may be required to cough up serial numbers listed on the optical drives during the claim processing procedure.
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